Carlo Citrone: Son of Bodybuilding Legend Presses Ahead in Poker


If there's one physical trait the game of poker definitely does not require, it's strength.

Mental strength and stamina, sure. But you don't need to be a power lifter to toss your cards into the muck or carry a rack of chips to your next table.

Being the son of an eight-time Mr. Universe with a built-in genetic code for fitness, though? That might be a bit of advantage.

England's Carlo Citrone stood out for a couple of reasons at the just completed EPT Malta.

For one he had a very deep run in the main event before busting in 12th for €44,500, his biggest cash since a $57k score in Las Vegas in 2009.

john citrone arnold schwarzenegger
John Citrone hanging with Schwartzenegger.

For another, his father - world famous bodybuilder and British bodybuilding icon, John Citrone - loomed large in the crowd as he followed his son's impressive run to the money.

Just a few of John's bodybuilding credentials:

Member of the British Bodybuilding Hall of Fame. Possesor of "Mr Britain" titles in all three age categories - junior, senior and masters. Eight Mr Universe titles and two Mr. World titles.

Oh, and he also holds the British bench press title. So, what's it like to come from such a potent gene pool?

PokerListings spoke with Carlo - himself the owner of an impressive resume with $1m in career live cashes -  to find out more on his famous father, his life in poker and a key hand that had him freerolling the main event.

PokerListings: Carlo, do you consider yourself a professional player?

Carlo Citrone: Put it this way: I earn my living playing poker.

I’m very sceptical of the word 'professional,' because everybody can sit down, start to play and say 'I’m a professional.'

So, I’m not really sure what a professional is. But yes, I make a living playing poker. I’d rather answer the question like that.

PL: Your name sounds Italian. Where does your family come from?

CC: Yes, my family originates from a village just outside Rome, but I was born in the UK.

PL: Your father was a famous bodybuilder. Is fitness also important for you?

CC: Yes. My father won about eight world championships and plenty of other titles. I went into bodybuilding when I was 19.

I became pretty successful within three years. I won the British Championship in 1985 or so, I can’t even remember exactly.

I had good genes from my father; I improved very quickly to international standard. But then I had a terrible motorcycle accident that almost killed me and ended my career.

Fitness is still important to me, although I’m saying that while smoking a cigarette. I used to have a fitness studio, too.

I ran it up to a chain of 13 studios then sold them and got into poker about 12 years ago.

Carlo Citrone
Carlo Citrone at the WSOP in 2005.

PL: Do you follow a specific diet?

CC: You know, I’d like to say yes. I keep fit, I work out, and I stay in shape.

Unfortunately, in the last three months, I haven’t done any of this.

I’m overweight, I’m out of shape and my preparations for this tournament were about as bad as you can possibly imagine.

On the day of registration of the main event, I had just played 30 hours of cash games straight.

All through the week I’ve played 90 hours with about four or five hours of sleep. And I still registered for this tournament like an absolute idiot – a real idiot!

PL: Theoretically, what would the perfect tournament day look like from a fitness perspective?

CC: You know, tournaments are 80% about mental control and being mentally healthy. When I go to the WSOP, for example, I have a very strict regime.

I’m in the gym at seven in the morning. I go to breakfast at nine o’clock. Then I’m in the pool from 9.45 to 10.30.

I rest for one hour, take a shower and then I go to play. And that’s the exact same every single day.

I stick to a low-carb, high-protein diet. And after the tournament I can hardly wait to roll into bed.

I’m not much of a party animal. Never have been, really. Don’t go to clubs or bars, I’ve never taken drugs. I’m more of a family man.

Also, after the tournament, you are completely mentally drained and exhausted. I sleep very well those nights.

PL: You have a lot of results, but no really big one.

CC: Yes, I’m a crossbar specialist. I hit crossbars for fun.

I’ve been deep in many, many tournaments, but then there is usually one unlucky hand that kills me.

I don’t really think that this is about luck. It’s just part of my game and I’m focusing a lot on it to stop it from happening.

Feels good on a freeroll.

(Editor’s note: Carlo Citrone was eliminated in 12th when he got it all-in with A-J against K-J. A King hit on the flop).

PL: Is this special for you or just another tournament?

CC: It’s almost the same, but here I’m freerolling because I had a key hand on Day 2. Benny Spindler raised, I called and the button called.

I had pocket tens and the flop comes T-3-2 with two clubs. The button bet, Spindler folds and I moved in. He snap-calls with A-2 of clubs.

Now the dealer was dealing very aggressively. She dealt very fast. So when she dealt the turn, the card flew out of her hand and fell on the floor face down.

When I went to pick the card up, she already went on to deal turn and river, which both bricked out.

I asked her what about this card and she said it’s burnt. I looked at it, it was the queen of clubs.

Without the dealer’s mistake I would have been out of the tournament. I’m now on the ultimate freeroll.

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