After a week of hotly-contested prelimary rounds, Welsh pro Roberto Romanello claimed his first major title last Friday by taking first at the PartyPoker.com European Open V in London. Romanello outlasted 71 competitors, including Marc Goodwin heads up, to claim the $200,000 cash prize and the title.
The tournament featured a $7,000 buy-in, creating a total prize pool of over half a million dollars. Many notables competed, among them Annette Obrestad, Roland de Wolfe, Surindar Sunar, Barny Boatman, Vicky Coren, and Ciaran O'Leary. The 72 entrants began by playing 12 six-handed heats, the winners of which all advanced. The 12 runner-ups from those preliminary heats had a second chance, though, as they next competed in two six-handed turbo tournaments to produce two more players, making it 14 altogether to reach the semi-finals.
As it happened, Romanello was one of those who finished as runner-up (to Peter Wood) in the first heat, but made it through after surviving a heads-up battle of more than 100 hands against Dale Hoy in the second chance turbo tourney. Romanello thus becomes the first player ever to win a PartyPoker.com European Open via the second-chance route.
The semifinals consisted of two seven-handed tables, with the top three finishers at teach table then taking their chip stacks to the six-handed final table. William Taylor had the chip lead with 351,000 chips when the final table began, followed by Andy Ward, Goodwin, Neil Channing, and Craig Burgess. Romanello, meanwhile, was sitting on the short stack when the final table started with just 143,000.
Romanello took charge from there, however, and after Taylor had been eliminated in 6th and Channing in 5th, Romanello had over half the chips in play. Then Goodwin eliminated Burgess (fourth) and Ward (third), and heads up began with the two players nearly even in chips. Romanello had a slight advantage when Goodwin shoved all in with and Romanello called him with . An ace flopped, and Romanello's hand held up, giving him the title. Goodwin took $100,000 for finishing second.
"I've made so many final tables but never managed to nail down a title," said an emotional Romanello afterwards.
Goodwin, currently Europe's number-one ranked player, was gracious in defeat, noting that "it would have been fantastic" to have won, "but I am so happy for Roberto. He has been knocking at the door for such a long time — it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy."
The event will be broadcast on UK television later this year, with commentary by Jesse May.