If you’re one of the thousands of poker players playing in the Daily Deepstacks events at the World Series of Poker this summer while dreaming of one day playing for a bracelet, know this; you could be just a few short years away from winning multiple five, six or seven figure scores on your way to winning World Poker Tour Player of the Year.
Sound crazy? Well you should meet Anthony Zinno.
Just two years ago Zinno was at the WSOP, focusing on cash games but he also managed to get in a few of the Daily Deepstacks events with buy-ins between $235 – $365. He cashed in three of the events, his best finish earning him just over $7,000.
“When I was grinding Daily Deepstacks, it was actually just mostly for practice. I used to play cash games around the Series,” said Zinno. “I’d play $5/$10 PLO, take shots at $10/$25 PLO cash, but Daily Deepstack was more of like a practice, a good value thing.”
The practice paid off. That summer Zinno took a shot at a bigger buy-in tournament after a friend agreed to cover half of his buy-in for the $5,000 buy-in Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza main event. Zinno outlasted 253 players to make the final table before finishing fourth for $86,964.
“That felt so huge at the time and so amazing I think back at that. That was like $90,000 or something. I was like, ‘Oh, my God, this is amazing’,” said Zinno. That was just a bit of a tease though for what was next. In September Zinno wanted to play the WPT Borgata Poker Open but rather than sell a lot of his action to backers and investors, he held most of it for himself, selling only 10% to a good friend.
“I just thought it was such good value and I knew I could win a WPT. I could afford to take a shot because I know I’m good enough where if I take a shot, and had to grind it back in cash, no problem,” said Zinno.
Zinno outlasted 1,187 players to get heads-up with Vanessa Selbst. Most observers at the time just assumed that Selbst would wipe the floor with the unknown Zinno. That’s not at all what happened though as Zinno ended up besting Selbst heads-up to win $825,099 and a WPT title.
Taking the shot paid off handsomely. Having most of himself at Borgata meant an increase in his bankroll that would allow him to start playing more big buy-in tournaments around the world.
“When I won that, I realized that I could travel more and play WPTs and that was the key. I realized I could travel and play WPTs like St. Martin for example; it’s so awesome. You can go there, rent the ATVs and you can cruise around the island and have fun and go and get some sun then play the main. It starts at like 4 pm, so you play the main, hope you make it deep. If you don’t, you have fun, enjoy yourself and then onto the next WPT.“
Going from a cash game grinder who was using small buy-in, big field events at the WSOP to learn tournament strategy to a regular on the World Poker Tour is quite the jump but it was always something Zinno had in mind.
“That was a goal of mine, rather like a possibility of something. Like, wow, someday I imagine being one of those guys that can travel the world and play big buy-ins. That would be awesome’,” said Zinno, who quickly realized he wouldn’t be able to rest on his single success. “While you’re doing that, you have to keep your eye on the goal of playing really well. People will win a big tournament and then they get lazy. They either have too much money syndrome or they just don’t practice as much.”
Even when he was visualizing what life would be like as a touring pro, he never considered he’d ever have a run like he has the last six months. It started with a 23rd place finish at the WPT Lucky Hearts Open in early February but really kicked into gear at the next WPT stop, the Fallsview Classic in Niagara Falls, Canada.
Zinno beat out 418 other players to win his second WPT title and earn another $314,629 while becoming one of the select few players to have captured multiple WPT titles. At the $10,000 buy-in LA Poker Classic just a few weeks later, Zinno did the improbable when he beat out the 538-player field to win $1,015,860 for his second WPT title.
“This year’s been magical. The back to back is a statistical anomaly no matter how good you are at poker, it’s just ridiculous,” said Zinno, who recently invested some of his winnings in YouStake.com, a staking site. “When I won LAPC, I told myself I have to make sure to get back to the universe in some way from that because I did something right in life to deserve this, something, some type of, I don’t know what you’d want to call it. Some people call it karma, some people call it luck, some people call it blessings from God.”
It’s only been four months since Zinno’s back-to-back run and he admits it hasn’t really sunken in yet. That’s bound to change later this summer when, for six weeks straight, Zinno’s face will be all over the WPT broadcasts of his two wins. The notoriety that comes with his success isn’t something he ever sought.
“That’s exciting, not the reason I came into poker. I actually don’t like attention very much. I’d always been shy but it’s kind of cool to have people that are happy for me because they know how hard I worked, how much I wanted it and the fact that I will probably do good things with the money over time,” said Zinno.
Just over 2.5 weeks into the 2015 WSOP Zinno has found some momentum. After failyg to cash at all the first two weeks, Zinno made back-to-back final tables, finishing sixth in the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Championship and seventh in the $5,000 Eight Max No Limit Hold’em event.
“I had a rough start. I’d play in No Limit event and then I’d lose a crucial flip for 100 big blinds or whatever but I was playing well, that’s all that matters. Just like, ‘Bust the tournament, play them well, and don’t think twice.’ Try to get good sleep,” said Zinno. “Last week I was just like, oh, it’s going to be one of those summers where you’re just like, brick, brick, brick but no boom. It’s two in a row so I’m feeling good,” said Zinno. “
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