Event: European Poker Tour Prague €5,300 main event Entrants: 563 Prize Pool: €2,730,550 First prize: €640,000Rebecca McAdam: Did this hand occur when you were quite deep?Roberto Romanello: This is an important hand because it was at the final table but as people forget it’s not just about the hands, it’s all about history. I had been playing with this guy [Peter Skripka] for virtually the whole day the day before, and half of the day previous to that as well. He was a very aggressive player. I’m aggressive myself. The build up was… You know what I’m like sometimes, I have a lot of banter at the tables and I like to wind players up a lot in the nicest way possible, I’m not really rude in that way.I kept niggling him and every time I beat him in a pot I would give him a hard time and have a joke about it with him. I knew that this was annoying him, and obviously I was trying to get him where I could really get the lock on him if I did get a prime hand, and all my banter would pay off. I knew keeping on to him all the time and annoying him, he’d want to beat me in a pot.So there were a few hands the previous day before the final table where I annoyed him, specifically in a hand where he got lucky, and I could see I was annoying him as I just kept on giving him the rubdown every now and then.The final table hand came early on, a few hands in, and I had just won a big pot off the Italian [Marco Leonzio] so I had got my stack up a little bit. He opened for a small raise and I looked down at pocket kings. Then remembering all that had gone on in the past couple of days I thought he was such an aggressive player he probably could play back with a wide range of hands, and obviously I would never be folding my hand here at this point and with the blinds at this stage in the final. So I re-popped it to make it really look as if I was making a move on him with all the history we had.So I made it 605,000 — a really big raise because I just felt that he would play back and he would make a mistake with any sort of hand. He thought for a while and re-shipped all in and we played a 5.5 million pot, which would be a chip-leader pot. He did that with pocket threes. He had overplayed his hand completely, but with all the work I had been doing, niggling him and annoying him the day before, he really wanted to beat me in a pot.So that, and then he made a mistake of making a move back on me with a hand that wasn’t quite strong enough, or he thought that I was making a move. That was a key pot for me, I took the chip lead and never looked back. I was chip leader from that point on and won the tournament.RM: What were the stack sizes like before the hand?RR: I started the final table with 25 big blinds so I was pretty short. I had just won a big pot off the Italian where he tried to bluff me, so I was just short of a double-up through him. I must have had around 2.5 million then. That pot was for the chip lead.RM: Did you knock Skripka out?RR: No I think he had about 5.5 million before the hand. So that’s why I knew as well that he was capable of making a move against me, he knows that he’s going to be still in the game, and that’s why I wanted to make it look like a move — it was such a big reraise.RM: Did he say anything after the hand?RR: He did actually. As soon the hand was over and I was raking in my chips, he said, “I played that bad.” He instantly knew he had made a big mistake. I think it’s just when you have history with players it adds a big factor, and when you’re making a lot of moves against each other, your timing has to be impeccable at that stage of the game — a mistake like that can cost you the tournament. And I know that myself as well. RM: You obviously think that making an imprint on your opponents and frustrating them a bit is a very big key to the game?RR: Yeah, if you’ve got the right player, and I knew he was the type of player — he was young, he was inexperienced, and I knew these things. So I knew that he could make a big mistake but you’ve got to be careful, it doesn’t work against everyone. I’ve used it a lot in the past and it’s a big part of my game. I use my skills of reading people, which is a big factor in my game, and is a big strength I have.But sometimes you can use other scenarios to get paid. I always try to take advantage of that, I felt that this was something that I could take advantage of him, and it worked for me. But it doesn’t always work, so I don’t do it all the time, and I don’t do it against a lot of the better players. They don’t fall for this sort of banter or these tricks so I don’t even bother trying to use it. You have to be careful who you use it on.RM: What kind of player was he? What read did you get on him?RR: I liked him actually because he had a lot of game and he reminded me a lot of myself when I first started playing — super aggressive and fearless. But the key is it’s not just about having all this super-aggressive game, as I know myself, I’ve had nice stacks in tournaments before and made a couple of finals and blown up by being over-aggressive. It’s something that I’ve learned with experience — timing is everything. I’m still very aggressive to this day when I play but I try to use my aggression against the right players and make the moves against the right players.I knew this kid had a lot of game and he was definitely one of the strongest players left in the field. He had a shot at winning because of the way he was playing — he was fearless. I think his experience let him down a little bit. It wasn’t the only pot that he made a mistake against me, he made two or three mistakes, like he reraised a guy all in for another 3 million and he lost half his stack. So it was just a few mistakes that cost him the tournament. It is a learning curve and without a doubt all my experience I’ve had playing major tournaments seemed to have come together for me for that, and I used it to my advantage. So hopefully there will be many more to come!RM: Indeed! Finally, what hands would you make that same move with against him — re-popping it and being willing to call that all in. Did you have a range in mind for this?RR: I think at that point with the blinds and my stack I probably would have played jacks the same way and then anything lower I probably would have been a little bit more careful. But I would have been willing to do the same with a pair of jacks or queens. I would have reraised him and then still gone with my hand against him because he could have done it with a lot, lot worse. With the mistakes I saw him make the day before with A-10 and A-9 and getting lucky, I definitely would have played my jacks out.Welshman Roberto Romanello did indeed take the chip lead and run with it as he finished with the title and a nice payday of €640,000. The Full Tilt Pro is one of the most likeable characters on the European circuit and has more than $1.3 million in lifetime poker winnings to his name.
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