Roberto Romanello: How to deal with variance

EPT and WPT champ Roberto Romanello is here to solve YOUR poker dilemmas!

Family Grinding

I need some advice on how to deal with variance. I only play poker once or twice a week but when I do I take it very seriously and record every tournament I play, how much I’ve spent, how much I’ve won and what profit I’ve made from it. For the first 6 months of this year I was playing my best poker and got the best results I’ve ever had. I made enough to take the family on holiday and buy a second hand car. 

I then had to take a month off from poker in July due to family and work commitments. I started playing poker again in August but now my game has taken a turn for the worst and I have not cashed in any tournaments since. The tournaments I play are only at the local casino and there are plenty of fish about but at the moment I can’t even win an argument with the wife, let alone any money from poker!

How do you handle variance? I feel like I have just lost my mojo and nothing goes right for me. I just want to get back to my winning ways. Please help! – Craig Blades

I think you have a chance because you know you can do well in poker playing a couple of times a week and you know the more important thing in life is family and work. They are your priority. When you have run good and won a little bit of money you obviously want more. It’s purely variance that things aren’t going well right now.

Stick to the same tournaments, keep working hard and have poker as a part-time thing until you build up a huge bankroll hopefully. The variance will settle itself and come round. 

I exploded onto the scene when I first started playing and I was so hungry to play. Then I went on an eight month downswing, it felt like years. It’s easy to get disheartened and lose your mojo but if you keep doing what you are doing things will eventually take off from there. Don’t let variance get you down. 

Theatre of nightmares

I have just come back from playing in a live tournament at Old Trafford, which was won by Sam Trickett. I couldn’t believe my eyes when he turned up to a £250 event! Anyway, I got knocked out after open raising with 9-9 from the cutoff and shoving my 30BB stack over the top of a three-bet from the small blind. It was in the mid-stages of the tourney. He had pocket Tens.

I had just moved to the table and had no info on the players. I rarely play this kind of live structure and I often wonder whether I am getting my stack in too early in these situations. Online I would have looked at his stats and if they were a LAG player I would have shoved – but if they had a low three-bet percentage I would have folded. Did I make the correct play or should I be adapting my game to these live events? – Paul Massie

You clearly know what you are talking about. You did say you had no information when you made this play though. I like to know how everyone is playing. If the situation is right I have no problem with you playing the hand the way you did. Say you’d been on the table a few hours and this guy had three-bet in position a few times then 9-9 is a good hand to go with.

I would prefer more information before making this play in a live tournament. I agree that online this is a standard shove. I’m much more aggressive online. Reading an opponent’s physical tells is a huge part of my game and I don’t have that online. 

Doing your nuts

I’m tempted to go to the UKIPT Isle of Man tournament but this looks like one of those where the expenses involved make it a bit pointless to make the trip. How do you manage to find the right balance between travelling to events and not overspending? Sometimes I’m just too tempted to grind online where there are zero expenses! – Paul James

Good question. I went to the recent UKIPT Galway after I won a seat to the main event online. I didn’t do anything in the main, played a €1k side event and with all the expenses I ended up doing £6,000! I wasn’t even planning on going and now I’m down £6k. You should be aiming to win complete packages for these trips that include all the expenses.

Swish suit

Do you like playing low suited connectors and if so, how do you play them? – Andy Smith

I love playing low suited connectors and I have made a massive amount of chips with these cards. When I’m head to head with a player I always feel that I can outplay them – it comes down to confidence. If you don’t connect you have to have a way of winning the pot. And if you do connect you stand a good chance of stacking opponents who have Aces and Kings.

Position is very important when you are playing 4-3 and 5-4 suited. But when you are super deep you can get away with playing them out of position too so long as you are prepared to try and outplay your opponent. You shouldn’t play these hands when you, or your opponent, are short though. That’s a huge mistake. Make sure your opponent is deep enough to play these type of hands. 

Hey, good lookin’!

What is the biggest prop bet you have ever made? – Jon Hancock

The biggest was for about $5,000 with JP Kelly. We had three months before Vegas one summer to lose weight, gain muscle and then the jury of Sam Trickett, James Akenhead and more would decide who was the best looking person! We got down to our bathers by the pool and I won!  

Get involved!

If you have a question about poker strategy, a hand you played or even just want to know what Roberto’s favourite Enid Blyton novel is you can send your question to: or tweet us @PokerPlayerUK using the hashtag #AskRomanello. 

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