In the tank: Tournament tactics from Roberto Romanello

EPT and WPT champ Roberto Romanello is here to solve your poker dilemas

Trouble hand

How do you play A-T in mid-position in an MTT? Or on a cash table?
Tim Roberts

I would open every time in cash games and tournaments but it depends on the stack sizes what I would do if I was three-bet. Stack sizes are always so important. If I was three-bet by a tight player I’d fold every time but if it was a guy who thinks he is a ‘playa’ then I might make a move with A-T.

If you just had 15 big blinds or so it becomes difficult, but I don’t think shoving would be too bad. Especially if you have a few less chips such as 12BBs. If you’ve been really tight you might even get someone at the table to fold a better hand!

Pushing time

I recently played in the £1,000 six-max UKIPT event at Dusk Till Dawn and had a question about my exit hand. I’m on a really tough table with some good players like Jack Ellwood and Lil Dave Nicholson. I had 25k at 500/1,000/a100 and we were playing five-handed. I raised with K-J to 2,100 under the gun and a very aggressive young kid three-bet to 5k on the button. I thought about it for a while, shoved all-in and he called me after a minute or two with K-Q to knock me out. Do you think my shove was okay? Should I have just folded in the first place instead of getting involved?
Rob Drake

I probably would have just folded under the gun to be honest. There’s nothing wrong with opening there but you need to know what you are going to do when somebody puts a decision on you. I would also just have folded to the three-bet but, again, it’s not really bad. That’s poker – it looks like your opponent is super aggressive and you could take the pot down some of the time. You were a bit unlucky to run into K-Q as some of the time you’ll be racing versus 8-8 or 9-9 against a player like this. It’s more complicated when a player is aggressive – it’s much easier to find a fold when you’re up against a super tight player who always has it. One important thing to bear in mind is that on a very aggressive table there will be good spots to three-bet shove later on, and it will be better to wait for those than play in a close spot like this one.

Stake well done

I have a few friends who play professionally and some of them are staked to play online tourneys. Even though they are really good players one of them is over $60,000 in make-up and he’s getting really stressed by the situation. I’m quite worried about him and the countless other young guys who have all this pressure on them – it seems like they will need to win a few big tournaments just to break even. What are your thoughts on this business? In my opinion if you can’t afford to play the tourneys off your own back you shouldn’t be playing them.
James Harrowed 

I’ve got friends in a similar situation actually and it’s really tough to get out of big make-up. It’s tough enough to win online but especially so when you have to win $50k just to break even! On the plus side it’s not your money directly so when the backer is fed up he will eventually cut you off. That has happened to a lot of my friends and they then start over again. If I could afford to play I would rather do it my own way and build up from there. You have to be confident in your own game to do this though.

Hitting the big time

I’m from Killay, Swansea and I just won a seat into a $500k guaranteed tourney online. It’s the biggest tourney ever for me. How should I approach it?
Geoff Stockton

Early on I’d be sitting very tight and just playing premiums. I would fold everything that is marginal. You could get dealt some good hands but if not you can still protect your short stack later on and get lucky to get a healthy stack. You can’t really play for the win from the start. You have to climb the ladder first and play well from early on to get into the money in the first place. You can easily go from half the average to the chip leader within three or four hands if you keep doubling up! You can go in like a raging bull early on but you’ll lose more than you win. Play good poker, use your skills and try to get into the money first.

A new hope

I know it shouldn’t really make a difference but I get excited every time a new year comes around, and it really motivates me to play as much poker as possible. Do you always set goals for yourself at the start of a calendar year and what goals would you recommend I set for myself? I currently play $50 cash games online and the odd £50 tourney at the Vic.
Simon Moone

 I’ve always been a big fan of setting goals, they are brilliant and can motivate you. When I first got into poker my goals were to play on the bigger scene, and from there to get on the EPT circuit. I also had a goal to get sponsorship and I feel like I have always achieved my goals. I would advise you to build your bankroll up, maybe to around $10k for these stakes. I was in this same scenario when I started out. Building a bigger bankroll will allow you to play bigger games.

Quickfire questions

  • Do you get annoyed when you see players winning big tournaments and not showing any emotion?
    No, it doesn’t annoy me. People react differently – I can’t keep mine in at all but some people do even if they want to jump up and down! 
  • What’s your favourite place to stay when in Vegas?
    The Wynn.
  • If you could see someone besides yourself win the WSOP Main Event who would it be?
    It would have to be my Dad! He loves poker so much. I can’t imagine how happy he would be.
  • Do you ever late reg live tourneys and is there any value in doing so?
    All the time! I don’t think it’s a good thing to do but I guess I love the gamble of sitting down and only having 20 big blinds! 
  • What do you want to achieve in poker in 2014?
    I would one day love to represent a great poker site again and play in the bigger games around the world. To take it even one step further than the EPT tournaments I used to always play.

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