Roberto Romanello: Solves your poker problems

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

Slick fold

In March, I wrote in and you described my tactics as ‘horrendous’ – how about this spot? I was playing in a satellite with ten going through to the next round. I was placed eighth out of eleven when I was dealt A-K offsuit. I raised in early position and was three-bet to just over half my remaining stack by the chip leader. Under different circumstances I would have shoved, but on this occasion I opted to fold as I felt confident about making the final 10. Did I make the correct play? Matthew Kirman

Folding is fine. People forget satellites are a completely different ball game to tournaments. I’ve had quite a lot of success in satellites because people make a lot of mistakes by playing them like they would a tournament. There are ten seats available here and you just need to get one of those ten – it’s not about winning the whole thing.

The chip leader is never folding to a shove in this spot after he has put in a raise to half of the hero’s stack. You have to think what you are up against. He’s probably got a pair and the only situation you want is when you are dominating him with a better Ace. The objective is to make one of the ten seats and not to put your stack at risk so it’s the correct play.

Jack hammered

I played in the recent UKIPT London main event and had a tough hand that I wanted advice on. I had 25k at 200/400/50 and raised J-J UTG to 850. The table was fairly weak except for the button. He was very aggressive and had a big stack of 80k+. He three-bet to 2k. I just called – would you do the same here or look to get it all-in? I check-called a half-pot bet on a 2-3-4 rainbow flop. The turn was an offsuit 5. I checked and he bet 5k. What do you think I should do on this turn? Rob Hall

Against an aggressive player like this I don’t mind four-betting. J-J would be near the bottom of my range but I also play the player as well, so it depends. I don’t mind calling either, it’s a tricky situation either way.

On the 2-3-4 flop you call a continuation bet, which is fine. When he bets 5k on the turn he is really asking questions now. The aggressive player could still be bluffing with air but he will also have massive hands as well which leave us drawing dead. You must be careful that you don’t pay off an aggressive player in a bad spot just because of what you have seen before.

Can you spot a tell if you are playing live? That’s what I would be looking for. If I spotted weakness I could just continue letting him hang himself or I could fold if he looked strong. The turn is a horrible card for us. I’d probably just fold, the way the hand played out post flop.

Cash fest

During the recent tournament action in London I was tempted to go and play some cash games. Do you think the games are softer at low stakes during these festivals or are they tougher because all the good players are in town? Craig Jones

I think it’s a good time to play. During the UKIPTs and tournaments like that a lot of bad players come into town alongside the good ones. At UKIPT London my Dad came along and played £1/£2 cash games. He’s a very average player and doesn’t play high stakes but he won two nights in a row. He won £700 one night and £350 on the other. You can beat these games and there are lots of weaker players around. Everyone wants to have a go when they get knocked out of the tournament so the games might be easier than usual.

Speed demons

What do you think to the huge increase in turbo tournaments that are taking place in live poker now? Graham Tamwin

I absolutely love these events. When I play a main event on the EPT or any tour I give my heart and soul to it. I generally do quite well and have deep runs. When I bust I’m devastated or tired because I have been grinding for days on end.

The last thing I want to do after that is go into another tournament with a really long structure. I hate that. But if a £1k turbo with 15 minute blinds is starting in a few hours then that is a breath of fresh air. They are also very exciting tournaments, good fun and you don’t have to take them quite so seriously. I enjoy them and have decent success because people play them quite badly. Every time I play them the fields are massive too, and getting bigger. They get large numbers and really big prizes.

Fish trap

I was playing an online tournament with 25 players paid and 30 left. The blinds were 300/600 and I had 18,000. A big stack – who I know is a fish – raised to 1,500 and a player moved all-in for 5,000. I had A-A in the big blind. In this spot do you think I should just call or raise all-in? I wanted to get maximum value but wasn’t sure the best line to take. John Hannigan

This is a good question and there are two answers. In this spot with a pair of Aces if the first raiser was a very good player I would ship all-in. A good thinking player would know that my all-in could be with a wide range. When the initial raiser looks down at Jacks or higher he will never pass these hands to me and just call it off.

But when the initial player is a fish I definitely flat call here. The fish will almost always call the extra chips because they want to see a flop. There’s a big chance he will put more money into this pot and if he hits top pair you are likely to stack him. You must always keep in mind who you are playing against and play the player.

Romanello’s tip of the month: never give up

When you get down to around 15 big blinds you should never forget that you are still in the game with a massive chance to do well. I love these situations and feel very comfortable in them. It’s a huge part of tournament play. You won’t always have a big stack but just one double-up and you will be away and going again with a good chance to do well in the tournament.

Deciding when to shove your short stack is all about position and who you are up against. That should change your range all the time. If it was folded to me in the cut-off with a hand like A-T I’d just shove with 15 big blinds instead of making a small raise. The main reason for this is that I wouldn’t want an aggressive player shoving on me with two live cards in a spot where I have to call.

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