EPT8 Campione: Hard working, tee-totalling, PoY chasing Romanello
When Roberto Romanello won EPT Prague two seasons ago he became an immediate favourite. For one he couldn't stop himself crying. Ordinarily this means you shuffle your feet, point into the distance and pretend you need to be there. But for Romanello, they were tears of relief, mixed with laughter. He didn't want to cry, but it showed how seriously he took his poker. That was point two, by the way; Romanello takes the game seriously.
With two events after Campione to play this season, Romanello is second in the Player of the Year standings. This year the Welshman has been ruthless when it comes to scoring PoY points. So far he has 11 side event cashes, nine of which from final tables, two of those, in Tallinn and Barcelona, being wins. Two others were runner-up finishes, although ironically he's had only one main event cash, back in EPT London.
"I either smash a tournament or I'm nowhere to be seen," said Romanello at the break. "If I have to be honest I don't know what it is. I change gears and sometimes put myself to grind mode and sometimes I'm pretty wild.
"But I feel that when I've got a stack, it's time to change gears and try to win the tournament. I have three goals. The first goal is to make the money; second goal to make the final table; third goal is to win it. If I do get a stack you'll see me go to work."
It's not just a stack that puts Romanello in work mode. Just being here tends to turn that switch in his head that tells some people to sit back and enjoy the view, and others that a professional performance is his first priority.
His results speak of an ability to focus for a week at a time. Of those 11 cashes, six have come from three events, with two big results in three separate festivals. When Romanello turns up to play, he plays to win.
"It's important," said Romanello. "These are beautiful locations and you've got to try and enjoy it, but you're here to do a job, you mustn't get carried away and party too hard.
"This week I've given up drinking. In Madrid I had a few too many beers with the boys and we had a good time but I feel as if you can get carried away.
"If I do well and have a big score, I'm allowed to enjoy it and relax and party with my friends. Otherwise there's no drinking now until Vegas. I think I'll make the same plan for Vegas. Unless I get a big result, there's no drinking."
It's a radical plan and not an easy one to stick to given the allure of an EPT party stocked with free booze, not to mention the allure of regular bars stocked with booze you have to pay for. But Romanello has something else to aim for than just a second EPT title. But winning the Player of the Year won't be easy.
"The season started off just playing and I had a few results," said Romanello. "Then I started to notice that I had a chance of Player of the Year. Then it comes into your mind, thinking, that would be special to win.
"I've had some pretty sick results this year in EPTs; some deep runs in mains and I've won a couple of side events, in big fields too; big scores of 100k plus. So for me not to be at the top means it's pretty tough to win. So that has made it more special for me and given me an incentive to try harder for the rest of the year."
He may not cry if he wins the PoY Award, but if he does there will be a few people ready with handkerchiefs; and a few more with a couple of beers.