WSOP 2012 - Moorman, Romanello and the British likely lads - part one

June 2012 cover

30 May 2012

Balls to the Olympics. There, we said it! The real British hope for gold this year lies within the hole cards of our heroic poker players. Here we profile young British players yet to win bracelets who we think will shine in Vegas this summer. With apologies to the likes of Ben Vinson, Priyan de Mel, Jon Spinx, Rob Akery, Ketul Nathwani, Marc Wright, Ben Jackson, Stuart Rutter, Laurence Houghton… (we could go on forever).

Here are our tips for the top.

Stevie Watts

Stevie Watts is a 34-year-old ex-professional footballer who played for Leyton Orient (up the Orient!) before an injury, six years ago, relegated him to non-league football and saw him gravitate towards poker. He’s been playing the game a long time, however, having cut his teeth in the early days in cash games with the Hit Squad. A baptism of fire if ever there was one.

His recent retirement from football, following the umpteenth operation on his knee, freed up some time for him to turn his attention to tournaments, and a WSOP final table last year, plus fifth spot at the WPT Dublin this year, followed by another fifth spot at the Irish Open, proves that this fella knows precisely what he’s doing.

“I don’t go out there and give it ‘the big one’,” he tells us. “I stay in one of the cheapest hotels and just concentrate on poker. I’m out there to work. You always want to be the best at what you do and a bracelet is the pinnacle. Jake and Matt won one last year, and it was great to hear the national anthem in front of all the Americans. Hopefully, this will be my year.”

Stevie is a larger-than-life character with bags of confidence – our wild card tip for WSOP success this year.

Roberto Romanello

At 35, Roberto is the oldest on our list, but deserves an honorary spot in our youthful little club because he spent his formative years distributing chips at the family chip shop in Swansea rather than accumulating them on the felt. Also, our editor is 36, so he considers Roberto to be very young indeed.

Despite Roberto’s late start to poker, he has become prolific. Prolific in Europe, that is – curiously he’s never cashed in a single WSOP event. “I’ve pretty much run really bad in Vegas,” he says. “I’ve had horrific hands beaten, and I also get very homesick, being there for such a long time. But I’m a tryer and I keep going back.”

God loves a tryer almost as much as he loves an EPT and WPT winner, and it’s Roberto’s dream to complete the Triple Crown. He’s there for six weeks and, with the help of his backers, Matchbook, will be playing as many events as he can. We think it’s high time this man breaks his Vegas duck.

Any tips for the Main Event, Roberto? “You just have to pace yourself. There’s no point going hell for leather on the first day. The first two days are all about getting through. Then days four and five are about trying to build your stack and then putting that stack to use.”

It’s that simple, kids.

Chris Brammer

Twenty-four-year-old Chris Brammer from Southampton has enjoyed a string of decent live results this year, but it’s online where he really shines. Two months ago we interviewed him in this magazine as he sat atop the Pocket Fives Rankings and was therefore briefly but officially the best online player in the world. Recently, he came third in FCOOP Main Event on for “officially” $236,523.91.

This will be Chris’ fourth trip to Vegas and he admits he hasn’t done too well on previous trips, despite finishing 365th in the Main Event, which suggests, at least, he’s got the stamina for the live grind.

The British player he would most like to see win a bracelet, he says, is Moorman: “He’s probably more deserving than anyone else. And more likely.
“When somebody final tables,” he adds, “because there are so many Brits out there and we all know each other, we’ll all rally round. I think we’re quite famous for our rail. I think it’s quite rowdy sometimes. We make sure that everybody in the RIO knows that a Briton’s at the final table.”

John Eames

Southport’s John Eames quietly puts in the volume and reaps the rewards. Last year he had an extraordinary 16 cashes in major live events around the world, including a third in the EPT Copenhagen, finishing third in the Bluff European Rankings table. He’s out there for the full seven weeks and is particularly looking forward to the ante-only event, in which the blinds stay the same and only the antes go up, because “it will create some interesting dynamics and a lot of post-flop poker”. He’s also relishing the six-max, heads-up event and the heads-up round-of-each.

John is expecting big things from UK players this year: “I think, from the amount of players we have representing the UK, we’re probably proportionately the best country in the world at the moment. We’ve had an EPT winner every season since it started and we represent a very small percentage of the field. And bracelets – we’ve won eight or nine in the last two years and, proportionately, that’s pretty special.”

Chris Moorman

Chris is one of the most prolific online tournament players of all time, but people used to wonder why he couldn’t seem to cut the mustard live. That all changed at last year’s WSOP in Vegas, when not only did he cut the mustard but Jackie-Channed the whole mustard pot into the wall where it shattered into pieces, covering the RIO in vivid Dijon.

Moorman racked up five cashes in Vegas, including one second and one third spot. Then he went to the WSOPE in Cannes, finishing second in the Main Event. All in all, he made $2.21m in World Series events last year. Chris Moorman has found his live poker feet, you betchya socks, and we can see him closing the deal this year.

Andrew Moseley

Andy Moseley was the subject of many rumours as an under-the-radar cash game player last year. “The kid’s amazing,” went these same rumours; “the new Stu Ungar… and he can, like, cut guns in half with his mind.”

Since then, Andy has been spotted playing the big game in Macau, he came 13th in the WSOPE, we saw him tormenting Phil Laak on the Party Poker Big Game and he’s even had a couple of articles published in this magazine. Nice bloke, too.

Could it be time for the mystery man to step out of the shadows, and could Vegas be his stage? To be honest, we’re not sure how good he is at tournaments because – well, he doesn’t seem to play that many. When we phoned him up to ask him about this, he didn’t answer because, presumably, he was too busy crushing people. Legend.