Lee Davy sits down with Roberto Romanello to talk about his hunt for the Triple Crown, playing six-card PLO in Wales, the importance of living in a house in Vegas and much more.
I walk through the Brasilia Room trying to spot my next victim.
“Can I interview you at the break, Erik?”
“Who are you?” asked Seidel.
I introduce myself as the person who once interviewed him for over an hour for the front cover of WPT magazine and dined with him for several hours at a private lunch in Cannes.
I guess I am not that memorable.
“I remember…you’re the guy who interviewed LuckyChewy. I liked that interview. I’m not as deep as LuckyChewy. Not today, I’m not really in the mood.”
That’s the end of that then.
Then I spot Roberto Romanello. The light is shining just right on the top of his dome. It makes him look like an angel. Romanello is the complete opposite to Seidel. Always talkative and is as deep as the Mariana Trench.
We sit down in the poker kitchen.
Erik Seidel is sat in front of us eating his dinner. Perhaps, if he hears my interviewing skills he will change his mind?
I am surprised that Romanello is playing the Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO) Hi-Lo but then again I shouldn’t be because I know it’s a popular game in his local card room in Swansea.
“It is but we play with six cards, not four. Obviously, it’s a completely different game but I am confident and know what I am doing.”
I ask Romanello if he would be excited to see a six-card game at the WSOP?
“Yeah, that would be exciting and we would get a lot more Welsh boys out here if that was the case. We all like to get our money into the pot and see whose lucky day it is? It’s just a relief to play something different than two-card all the time. When you play six cards it’s always so exciting until that river card comes because it can change the hand completely.
“That’s why I enjoy playing a Thursday night with my friends back home. I don’t like playing too much with them though. They are all my friends and so it’s not that great when I have a great night and win a lot of money from them.”
Crikey, Romanello is a strange cookie. He’s a poker player with a conscience.
“That’s the way I’ve been raised. I believe in a bit of good karma. Do good things and good things will happen to me. It’s worked for me so far.”
There seems to be a glow about him. I know he hates Vegas. He loves the WSOP action but hates being so far from his family. What’s changed?
“This year I am staying in a house with a few English boys and that’s been massive for me. It’s been a big difference. It’s more of a natural lifestyle to be in a house and around people, rather than being stuck in a hotel room, which I seem to have been doing each year. I never really enjoy Vegas to be honest with you. I always look forward to getting a big win but I have never quite cracked it out here despite making a few final tables.
“This year I feel different. I have had two deep runs already, and just finished 13th a couple of days ago. I felt really good and positive when I busted. The house makes me feel good. Just cooking and being normal is a big thing for me.”
What happens to Romanello if you lock him up in a Vegas hotel room for six weeks?
“Every day you are playing poker. You get up, you play poker, you bust, you go back to your hotel room, try and meet up with people and it’s such a hassle. You end up in your hotel room, on your own, and it gets a little depressing. You are going to bust a lot and so you need the right frame of mind. Yesterday when I bust 13th I went straight back to the house and I felt good about the situation. I felt I played really good, and I was really happy with my game.”
Romanello was once sponsored by Full Tilt Poker, followed by a stint with Matchbook, and since those heady days he has been playing far fewer tournaments, whilst choosing to invest his time in the family business. Does this lack of game time affect his edge?
“I don’t think it takes an edge from my game. When I sit down I feel as confident as ever. When I sit down at the table the first thing I do is respect everyone at that table. If they don’t respect me back they are going to be in trouble. Once I get into it I know what to do. I play each player differently, depending on the strengths in his or her game. If I didn’t play for a long time it may be different, but I am keeping my hand in the game enough so it doesn’t cause a problem for me.”
Romanello is a former European and World Poker Tour champion so is the Triple Crown important to him?
“It would be an amazing achievement as there are only a few people who have done it. I get very emotional when I hit a big win and take every game very seriously. Every event out here is a major event for me because they are all bracelet events. I am very grateful to be out here, grateful with what I do, and feel really good and positive about doing something great out here.”
As Romanello leaves with his friend, I notice Seidel wiping his chops so I head over the table to see if my interviewing skills have impressed him.
“Hi Erik, any chance for that interview?”
“Who are you?”