Carlino's Way: Singing Baker Charms His Way to Final 6 in Deauville

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Carlino in fight mode.

49-year-old Joseph Carlino is the people’s darling here in the tournament area in Deauville.

The waiters love and greet him whenever he walks by to take a break or get himself a coffee.

He likes to talk about food and he expresses the action at the table in food terms.

The journalists call the restaurant owner from Lyon "The Singing Baker," because he has a weekly Karaoke Show in his house.

We asked the amateur, who surprisingly made the final eight of the EPT Deauville Main Event, about his poker story, his past life as a professional Taekwondo Fighter and his resemblance to famous actor Jean Reno.

PokerListings: Joseph, you really look like actor Jean Reno! Do a lot of people tell you this?

Joseph Carlino: It happened more often when I was younger and slimmer. But I was at the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008 and the Chinese girls went crazy.

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Jean Reno?

They didn’t even accept it when I really seriously said that I am not him.

PL: What does it look like when you’re serious? You're one of the most entertaining guys here.

JC: It only seems like this. I am ready to fight (laughs). But even when I make funny faces I am cool and rational inside.

I don’t do stupid things at the table. I believe that I technically can be competitive in such a tournament.

PL: But you are an amateur. How did you get into a major tournament like this?

JC: That’s a pretty interesting story. I got a telephone call from an Italian friend, he told me to buy a poker chip set for our skiing holidays.

It was 2009 and I had never heard about poker. So I bought the thing and we played every night. After that I was addicted to it (laughs).

PL: And then you started to play online?

JC: Yes. And after half a year I got another telephone call from friends.

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"I open my laptop and she asks me why I don’t make love to her. And I say 'I don’t know, I can’t help it, I’m a geek.'"

They checked my stats on Sharkscope and said: 'You have to stop playing poker. You lost about $2,000 in only a few weeks.'

I was so focused that I didn’t even realize that I lost money (laughs). So I started to really educate myself.

I read books and magazines and learned by watching videos. At the end of the year I won $60,000 in a $300 Full Tilt tournament for a sixth place.

I won this tournament ticket with an investment of $2. The beginning of a true love affair (laughs).

PL: You’ve played a handful of EPTs. Do you pay the buy-in with your own money?

JC: No, I only play if I qualify. I qualified for the France Poker Series with a 10-Euro ticket. And for the EPT Main Event I played a $700 Qualifier.

PL: You have a restaurant, a wife and two kids. How can you bring that together with your dedication to poker?

JC: I work every day and when I come home my wife watches Desperate Housewives or something like this (laughs).

I open my laptop and she asks me why I don’t make love to her. And I say 'I don’t know, I can’t help it, I’m a geek. It is like a drug for me' (laughs).

PL: Why are you not a professional player then?

JC: Because I love my family. And I love my restaurant. And I know how much stress it is to play these long tournaments for that much money.

And to travel all the time is also not my thing. It is enough to have that once in a while.

But I’d think about it, if a sponsor would offer me a contract.

PL: You seem to have some special skills. We have seen you showing some martial arts moves in the tournament area. It looked really professional.

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"I know how to fight and I know how to win."

JC: I was a professional Taekwondo fighter when I was young.

In the 90s I was four time regional champion of Lyon, and I won a bronze medal in the French Championships 1996.

So, I know how to fight and I know how to win.

My opponents on the final table should be aware of that.

Carlino is currently sixth of seven players at the EPT Deauville final table. Follow along with the live stream right here.

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