There has been a lot of debate in the poker industry recently as to whether the much-fabled Triple Crown of a World Series of Poker, World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour victory should be limited to the those three tournaments. None of those famous tours have a monopoly on huge payouts or player attendances, so are the boundaries for inclusion as a Triple Crown event too narrow or would including other events dilute the prestige of the achievement?
To find the answer, we spoke to the man who won the most recent Triple Crown, Roberto Romanello. The Welsh Wizard won his EPT and WPT in quick succession, claiming the EPT Prague Main Event in December 2010, before winning the WPT Bratislava Main Event just three months later. Despite this, Romanello did not complete the legendary treble until 2020, when he won one of the WSOP Online bracelets that were awarded last summer during the initial COVID-19 lockdown.
Winning in Prague and Bratislava
“I didn’t have any thoughts of the Triple Crown [in Prague], but when I won WPT Bratislava, it was a different story.”
After Romanello won the first of his three Triple Crown trophies, the EPT Prague Main Event for a €640,000 return on his €5,300 investment, he had no idea that it would be the first step towards poker immortality.
“After winning EPT Prague, I was on the biggest high I had ever been in my life,” says Romanello, who these days runs several restaurants back in his native Wales as well as heading up the team for his brainchild BetClever, which gives sportsbettors the best odds in real-time via a revolutionary app. “I didn’t have any thoughts of the Triple Crown at that point, but when I won WPT Bratislava just a few months later, it was a different story. I realised that I had the chance to become the fastest Triple Crown winner ever with the WSOP in Las Vegas approaching right after my WPT win. It was just one massive buzz.”
That honour of winning in record time had previously fallen to Romanello’s fellow Brit Jake Cody, as we told you when we broke down the stories of the nine men who have won poker’s Triple Crown earlier this week. But had Romanello won at the first World Series of Poker that followed his triumph in Bratislava for €140,685, he would have broken that record and claimed all three within a year – something that has never been achieved.
“I thought of all that and it was very exciting,” confesses Romanello, looking back ten years on. “That year I went to Vegas on such a high and I didn’t put any pressure on myself. I already knew I had achieved something very special. I just wanted to enjoy that time in Vegas playing those special events and thought ‘I’m playing good so if it’s gonna happen, it will happen.’ That was my attitude for the whole series in 2011.”
The End of a Long Wait
“The final table was tough but that never worries me.”
Despite heading to Vegas several times over the intervening years, as well as playing WSOP Europe events, Romanello missed out on the elusive bracelet, winning big scores in events that didn’t qualify instead. The proud Welshman won a WSOP bracelet in 2020 from his home in Wales almost a decade on from the EPT Prague victory back in December 2010. Stories like his are exactly why last year’s raft of WSOP Online events were so important. They kept the prestige and lustre of the famous old series going. Better than that, they led to Triple Crown history when Romanello won his terrific trio of trophies at the online felt on GGPoker.
While having players like the eventual runner-up Niklas Astedt in the tournament made it even harder, Romanello has always relished the experience of playing against the very best in the business.
“The final table was tough as there were some great players on the table,” agrees Romanello. “As always, though, that never ever worries me. If anything, it motivates me to win even more as I know that if I am to win it’s going to be a whole lot sweeter.”
Romanello says that his strategy at the final table was to ‘try and make zero mistakes and apply maximum pressure when needed’, but while that worked until the final duel, taking on Niklas Astedt was a daunting task.
A Heads-Up and a Hug
“I got to celebrate my achievement of the Triple Crown with my wife and children.”
“Getting heads up, I knew it was going to be extremely tough when playing against one of the very best online players in the world, but as I previously said this just motivates me. Luckily for me, it was my time that night to complete that Triple Crown.”
If he’d done it in Las Vegas, Romanello would have to have made an emotional call home to let his wife know the good news. The hug with his children would have been a virtual one across the Atlantic Ocean.
“Winning the Triple Crown online was special because it was won in the comfort of my own home. It was completely different to winning a major event at a casino or live venue. I instantly got to celebrate my achievement of the Triple Crown with my wife and children with some big cuddles. All these memories are so special – I hope they will last a lifetime.”
For Roberto Romanello, family man, it was a victory made all the more enjoyable by being around those he loves at the moment of victory.
Should the Triple Crown be Expanded?
“It should expand to events that the poker community believe are worthy.”
The big debate in poker right now is whether events with equally mammoth guarantees as the WSOP, WPT and EPT should be included as ‘Triple Crown’ events. When we put the question to Roberto Romanello, his answer was resounding in the affirmative.
“Yes! I think it should expand to all the major events that the poker community believe are worthy,” he says. “Other major events qualify as being as equally prestigious as the EPT, WPT and World Series of Poker. I think that would be fair and correct and it’s also good for players achieving their dreams and goals in poker.”
With massive events such as the partypoker MILLIONS lobbying for inclusion at the very top table when it comes to discussing a tournament’s merit, it’s certain that the argument won’t go away any time soon. Nor too will the unforgettable poker achievement of former partypoker pro and BetClever impresario Roberto Romanello, the Triple Crown winner who played his heart out for a decade to achieve his dream.
Do you think it should be a World Series Bracelet, WPT or EPT only to qualify as a Triple Crown win? Let us know on Twitter and join the debate!
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