The fifth edition of Party Poker's European Open has been won by Welsh poker pro for the last three years Roberto Romanello (32), who was overcome with emotion after taking down the first major title of his career and scooping the $200 000 winner's prize.
The Swansea pro triumphed over European number one Marc Goodwin in a heads-up after a tough final table that included PartyPoker.com European Open IV runner-up Craig Burgess and World Open IV runner-up and Irish Open champion Neil Channing.
“I’ve made so many final tables but never managed to nail down a title – this win couldn’t mean any more to me,” said a tearful Romanello. “The money will go straight back to my family.”
“I think I played really well in the first heat and was disappointed to finish runner-up," said Romanello. "That got me an entry into the turbo heat and I really felt during it that it was finally going to be my time. This was the big turning point for me.”
Romanello ran deep in the WSOP Main Event in 2006 and has made three GUKPT final tables; he is the first player to win a PartyPoker.com European Open or World Open title through the second chance turbo heats.
After finishing runner-up to Peter Wood in his heat, Romanello secured his passage to the final table as the short stack by taking out Dale Hoy heads-up in the turbo. Commentator Jesse May was adamant throughout Romanello’s remarkable passage through the tournament that nobody could want the title more and the Welsh wizard continually fought against the odds.
When the six seat final table went four handed Romanello found himself with over half the chips on the table but the eliminations of Andy Ward and Craig Burgess at the hands of ‘Mr Cool’ Goodwin meant the stacks were relatively level when it reached heads-up, with Romanello slightly down on 685 000 to Goodwin’s 715 000.
Goodwin was fancied by many after a period of superb play and an ability to avoid marginal situations. Goodwin had made the final table of the World Open IV and on this final table managed to exact some revenge on Neil Channing, who spectacularly bust him with quad tens on the final table of that event.
Romanello played over 100 hands heads-up in his heat but his one-on-one with Goodwin was much faster. Goodwin pushed with Ks 9h and Romanello woke up with As 10s. When an A came on the flop it was enough to give Roberto the victory. Goodwin, who won $100 000 for finishing runner-up, was gracious in defeat. “It would have been fantastic to have been European number one and European Open champion but I am so happy for Roberto. He has been knocking on the door for such a long time – it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy,” he said.
Eddie Hearn, Director of Matchroom Sport said, “This PartyPoker.com European Open saw the events toughest field to date and Roberto Romanello was a worthy champion. It’s not often you see the winner of a Poker event breakdown in tears and that's a measure of just what this title means to the players.”
Amongst the players who took part in the Matchroom Sport organised 72-runner $7 000 buy-in tournament were Annette Obrestad, Roland de Wolfe, Vicky Coren, Juha Helppi, Ciaran O’Leary, Eoghan O’Dea, Ian Frazer, Surinder Sunar, Barny Boatman, James Akenhead, Padraig Parkinson, Julian Thew, Donnacha O’Dea, Stuart Rutter, Nik Persuad, Karl Mahrenholz, May Maceiras, Thomas Bihl, Robin Keston and UK Open champion Michael Keiner. Germany’s assault on the title was spearheaded by PartyPoker.com Women’s World Open II champion Soraya Homam and Christoph Haller but both fell down at the semi-final stage.
The event ran from Friday 6 February to Friday 13 February and featured 12 six seat heats and two six seat turbo runner-up heats. There were two seven seat semi-finals and one six seat final. The top three players in each of the semi-finals took their chip stacks through to the final. The total prize pool was $504 000 with first place scooping $200 000.
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