The most striking figure at the feature table right now is Italian pro Carlo Savinelli. If you don’t believe me switch on the EPT Live coverage. Scan the table. You’ll see him.
The Italian’s beard, sunglasses and Superman cap make quite the impression, but there’s also the matter of the shirt he wears. It’s an Italian football shirt with the infamous name “Materazzi” on the back, and it harks back to a recent tournament Savinelli played in Paris.
If you’re not familiar with the name Marco Materazzi let me get you up to speed. Think back to the World Cup in 2006. France faced Italy in a tense final, a game that would be the last for legendary French player Zinedine Zidane.
What happened next is not exactly clear, but Materazzi said something to Zidane that prompted the Frenchman to stop, turn and charge headfirst at Materazzi’s chest. He fell, Zidane walked away and was immediately sent off. It was a moment both players took a lot of questions on later.
But back to that tournament in Paris. Savinelli faced Laurent Polito heads-up, and would finish second. As he put it, he had two friends and his girlfriend with him on the trip. Meanwhile the rail was a partisan crowd of Frenchman, whose cries of “allez papa!” rang out at every opportunity, even when Savinelli folded pre-flop. So when he came to Deauville his friends figured this small act of defiance might protect him from a partisan home crowd.
“It’s a joke,” laughed Savinelli as he told the story. “And now I talk with Polito a lot. He comes to my table to say ‘allez papa!'”
As a sort of protective shield it’s worked great. As a talisman it’s also done the trick. So far this event Savinelli has yet to move all-in, and is on the brink of a first EPT final table.
“I’m happy and confident. I hope everything will be good.”
If only Materazzi himself had said the same.
POSTSCRIPT: Carlo Savinelli has just been eliminated from the main event in ninth place.
Coverage from the Main Event of EPT Deauville is on the Main Event page. Check out all the action from around the festival on the main festival page. Also follow the action on EPT Live and stay up to date with the sensational EPT app for iPhone, iPad or Android.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.