Roberto Romanello: Take a break and recharge your poker battery

EPT and WPT champ Roberto Romanello is one of the UK’s leading players and is here to solve your poker dilemmas

Quitting Time

I’m getting sick and tired of poker. I’ve been grinding it out at the low- and mid-stakes for almost four years and getting nowhere. I’m just losing money, not to mention patience. Is it time to be realistic? I keep on saying one more year, but should players just accept their limitations, or am I just whinging?
Sam Granger
You need to take a break. Give it a rest for a couple of months and you’ll come back hungrier for success with a more positive outlook. I’m a professional now so breaks aren’t an option, but I’ll still miss a few tour stops and wait till I’m fresh before getting back on it. Also look at your game and see if you’re stagnating. When I started, I was lucky to improve really fast. Sometimes when I go back to local casinos I see the same faces and nothing’s really changed. They’re still playing ABC and haven’t added any depth to their poker strategy. You need to avoid the same trap.

Poker Pals

Poker’s full of great characters, and you’ve been at the top of the game for some time now, so who’s the funniest player you’ve ever battled with?
Brian Tomlins
That’s a hard one. He might not be one of the ‘big’ names, but everyone who grinds the UK circuit knows Barry Neville, and when I first started, he was at every event. We just clicked. We’re both loud guys who like a joke at the tables, but I still wanted his chips. Andy Bradshaw’s a massive character as well. He’d either get all the chips or blow-up in the first level; a great guy to play against who always guaranteed lots of fun. I’ve played with the superstars like Ivey, and having him on my left in the Aussie Millions $100k was an experience I’ll never forget. But at the same time, I’ve actually had more fun with people like Bradshaw and Neville.

Watch and earn

How important is maths in poker? I play a lot more live than online, so think I can always rely on my reading skills to spot when I’m behind. But there are more younger guys crushing at the local casino and they all seem to have a background in statistics. Can I survive on tells alone?
Warren Foot
Tells will help you against amateurs in your local casinos, but you need a little more than that if you ever want to make it as a player. The only way to beat the best is to watch them. Sit back and study how they’re making all these great plays and try and work out why they take the betting lines they do. Once you’ve calculated it all, you can reverse their game and play back at them. The maths becomes easier after a long time and a lot of it is common sense. I know when I’m supposed to be in a pot or not, and you can learn pots odds really quickly. Instincts mean a lot in poker, but make sure you work at every area of the game.


What are players generally trying to do when they min-raise after the flop? I’ve played a lot of tournaments recently where players will min-raise me after I’ve lead out, and I never know where I stand. What are they doing exactly? Are they just hoping they’re good and trying to get some value? Are they raising to ‘see where they’re at?’ And what’s the best line to take against players who keep min-raising?
Harry Eames
Min-raising is a great play to have in your arsenal because it’s unpredictable. You can min-raise with a monster and force your opponents to call, either because they don’t believe or it looks like there’s too much value, or you can protect your hand and try and get to showdown cheaply. I like to min-raise a lot to get maximum value, but also to get a free card on the turn. If you min-raise a flop with a flush draw, it might frighten your opponent and force them to check the turn, giving you a chance at a free card on the river. If people are min-raising you, it’s important not to fall into traps. Put yourself in their shoes and picture why they’re doing it. Amateurs can easily bring min-raising into their game, as it’s rarely damaging to your stack. Try it out with draws first. If you hit, fire again for value. If you miss, check till showdown. By the time the river lands you might just win a massive pot.

Blinding out

I’ve always been a live player and only recently begun using tracking software online. I’ve noticed I lose a lot from the blinds. From every other position I’m profitable, but on the blinds I’m a losing player. It’s got to the stage where I’m throwing away my blinds to all raises unless I have a premium hand. I’m back to winning ways but really easy to steal against. What should I change?
Stew Davies
You need to keep on folding marginal hands and only playing back with premiums, but if you want to mix it up, three-bet or fold. That way you’re always the aggressor. Don’t pussy around trying to find out where you are, start being the daddy. With hands like A-6, A-3 try a three-bet. In reality you might as well be raising with 9-2 as if you get raised you’re folding. But occasionally pile it in and stay unpredictable. Weaker players hate the blinds and bleed chips – good players punish them. Either let your hand go or raise. Never peel! Well, unless it’s suited (sometimes).

Sucks to be you

Do you ever apologise for sucking out on someone? A lot of players do, and getting rivered or sucked out on is pretty cruel. But why are people sorry? At the end of the day they’re in the game to win chips and you’re never sad to win a big pot. How do you handle it when you suckout on someone?
Robert Young
I have said sorry because sometimes I feel bad when I beat a player, especially if they’re a nice person. If they’re not nice, I quite enjoy it. But you have to notice when it’s best to say nothing and just collect your chips and count yourself lucky. Personally, it doesn’t make a difference when someone apologises to me for bad beats, shit happens. I’ve never gone mad. I play with my heart on my sleeve, and while I might look miserable when I suffer a bad beat, I’ll always say good luck and leave the table in a professional manner. Inside I feel like exploding and going nuts, but I never show my emotions. Always be a gentleman at the tables.

Romanello’s tip of the month

A lot of amateurs shove too soon with big hands. When you have a premium hand like Aces, you three-bet and are four-bet, try and keep your value going. In these types of spots, amateur players will over-shove their big hands and they’re missing out on loads of value. Small five-bets or six-bets are much more likely to fool your opponent into overplaying their hands, so click it back, keep the value in, and don’t jump the gun. You need to leave enough rope for your opponent to hang themselves. Don’t be afraid of letting people into pots and playing a flop against you. You want people to peel and still get it in bad, that’s what the game’s about.
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