Anthony Zinno Goes Back-to-Back at LA Poker Classic, Wins Historic 3rd WPT Title

Anthony Zinno now sits tied with Gus Hansen and Carlos Mortensen for the all-time lead in WPT titles.

Anthony Zinno now sits tied with Gus Hansen and Carlos Mortensen for the all-time lead in WPT titles.

It’s already been a season to remember on the World Poker Tour, but what Anthony Zinno accomplished Thursday night at the Commerce Casino pushes him into another level entirely.

Zinno came from way back at the final table of the 2015 WPT LA Poker Classic to capture the second of back-to-back WPT titles and his third win on the tour. He earned just over $1 million this time around, and added one of poker’s most prestigious titles to a rapidly growing resume.

It was just over a year-and-a-half ago that Zinno hoisted the WPT Champions Cup for the first time at the Borgata Poker Open, and just a few weeks since he did it again in Fallsview. Zinno’s third WPT title at the LAPC ties him with Gus Hansen and Carlos Mortensen for the most wins on tour at three. Zinno even got to three WPT wins 72 days faster than Hansen, with just 531 days between his first win at Borgata and Thursday night at Commerce.

While Zinno was fortunate in some big spots at the final table and at various points in the tournament, as you might imagine he’d have to be on this kind of run, it was no easy path to victory. Not only did he start the final table fifth out of six, Zinno had to fight his way past the likes of Chris Klodnicki and Mike Leah, among other serious challengers along the way.

“One thing I want to say is that this final table was tremendously difficult,” said Zinno shortly after his victory. “Every player played well, especially when we got down to three-handed. Klodnicki, and Mike, they’re some of the best players in the world.”

Zinno ultimately faced off with Leah heads-up holding an advantage of over 2.5-to-1, but the heads-up portion was over in a flash. On just the 12th hand between Leah and Zinno, Leah raised to 400,000, Zinno three-bet to 825,000 and Leah four-bet all in for 3,950,000. Having looked down at A A, Zinno called instantly and put Leah on the edge of defeat holding a dominated A 3.

As is often the case, the flop provided a little drama to the process, falling T 5 2 to give Leah four clear outs to a straight. The 3 turn left Leah two outs to win and four to chop, but the 5 river sealed it for Zinno

The earliest stages of the final table, on the other hand, were largely uneventful as the first few orbits passed by with little fanfare. That changed in a hurry on Hand 20 of the final table, when Igor Yaroshevskyy and Peter Tran got into another in a long series of unique situations that Tran helped foster in his run in this LAPC.

Yarosheskyy, who began the day with the chiplead, opened the action with a raise to 105,000 from under the gun and Tran three-bet to 305,000. For more than four minutes Yaroshevskyy sat in silence, mulling his options, but when Tran called for the clock Yaroshevskyy raised and Tran beat him into the pot pushing all his chips in the middle. Having committed himself, Yaroshevskyy called with A 9 only for Tran to show A K; both players flopped a pair but Tran’s hand stayed best throughout, giving him the double.

That hand not only put Leah well out in front, but pulled Yaroshevskyy, Tran and Peter Neff nearly even from second through fourth place. It would be a brief rise back into contention for Tran, however, as he’d soon play a sizable pot with Klodnicki that would claim nearly all of those new-found chips.

Tran raised to 100,000 from under the gun, Klodnicki three-bet to 400,000 from the big blind and Tran eventually four-bet to 1.6 million, essentially putting Klodnicki all in. Klodnicki called, only to realize he had a few spare chips left over, and those went in blind before the flop fell A A K. Despite having had his hand caught in the cookie jar, so to speak, Tran called having flopped a draw with T 8 – only for Klodnicki to flip over A K which had Tran drawing dead.

On orbit later, it was all over. Tran raised to 110,000 on the button, Leah called in the big blind and the flop fell 8 7 6. Leah checked, Tran bet 110,000 and Leah called. The T was the turn, Leah led out for 200,000, Tran min-raised to 400,000, Leah three-bet to 700,000 and Tran shoved for 1,595,000. Leah called with 9 2 for the straight, and with K 7 Tran could only chop with one of the three remaining nines. The A landed on the river instead, and Tran was the day’s first casualty in sixth place.

With his double through Tran Klodnicki pulled clearly into second place, but he’d essentially have to keep his head down as Leah took control for a stretch that ultimately gave him more than half the chips in play. Zinno was the shortest stack of the remaining five players at this point in time, but he’d get a double through Neff as pocket jacks held off pocket eights.

This left Neff with less than 10 big blinds, which he’d put into the middle on the very next hand after Klodnicki opened from the cutoff. Zinno four-bet all in over the top and Klodnicki folded, but his K Q was behind against Neff’s A Q. The J T 7 gave both players a straight draw, but Zinno’s was open-ended. The A made that straight for Zinno and left Neff with just two outs to chop, which wouldn’t happen as the 5 river ended Neff’s run in fifth.

Things had been going in the wrong direction all day for Yaroshevskyy, and the early chipleader looked as if he could be on the way out when he put himself at risk. The action began with Yaroshevskyy, who raised to 125,000 from under the gun, and Klodnicki three-bet to 300,000 from the button. Yaroshevskyy shoved for 1.5 million and Klodnicki called with A Q, which was racing against Yaroshevskyy’s 9 9. The Q J 8 flop left Yaroshevskyy with just six outs, but the 9 turn gave him a set and ultimately the double.

Leah passed the 9 million mark, and then 10 million, and for a stretch it seemed as if he’d simply run away with the title. The dynamic started to shift, however, when a short-stacked Klodnicki doubled through Leah with K K against A 6. He still had 9.5 million at that point, but then Zinno grabbed a double of his own as his Q J outkicked Leah’s Q 3 when he got all in on a Q 8 7 flop.

On Hand 99 Klodnicki made an unlikely hero call on the river with jack-high and took a 2 million chip pot off of Leah, and on Hand 100 Zinno beat him in a pot that knocked Leah out of the chiplead entirely. Zinno was on top, but he, Leah and Klodnicki were all within a few big blinds of one another with Yaroshevskyy on the short stack.

Leah distanced himself again for a short time with a pair of medium-sized pots, but another dramatic shift was in the cards on Hand 128. Zinno raised to 250,000, Klodnicki shoved for 2,675,000 from the small blind and Zinno thought it over for some time before calling with 9 9 It was a race with big implications – the winner would take over the chiplead, while the loser would either be decimated or out in fourth. It appeared to be Zinno’s pot through the 7 6 3 flop and 8 turn, but Klodnicki got the K on the river to go from the brink of elimination to top dog.

Zinno bided his time on the short stack, falling to just over seven big blinds at one point, and won a crucial double against Leah as A 7 held off K Q. That pulled him even with Yaroshevskyy, and the Ukranian would be the next player at risk. After Leah opened to 2 million, basically putting the two short stacks in the blinds at risk, Yaroshevskyy shoved for 70,000 more and Leah called with K 8.

Yaroshevskyy had the best of it with K Q, and while an A 7 7 flop gave Leah a little hope of a chop it didn’t change much. The 8 turn was a much different story, however, giving Leah the lead and putting Yaroshevskyy on the brink. The J river sealed his fate, and after 85 hands of four-handed poker Yaroshevskyy finally went out in fourth.

Three-handed play was a decidedly shorter affair, but no less important in the final outcome of the tournament. It didn’t take long for Zinno to continue his climb, as he found a double on the very next hand after getting all in on a K K J board with Q J. Leah called with 9 7 and added even more outs with the 7 turn, but despite improving further on the 9 river his two-pair was still second-best.

Zinno and Leah tangled in yet another big all in, only this time it was a true coinflip between his 7 7 and Leah’s A T. The board provided some serious drama by the turn of a K 5 2 Q board, but the 6 kept Zinno’s pair of sevens best and put him into the chiplead.

It couldn’t have been much closer three-handed, as Zinno held 6.2 million to Klodnicki’s 5 million and Leah’s 4.9 million. After taking two pots from Klodnicki, however, the balance was thrown completely in Zinno’s direction. Having fallen to just over 2.5 million, Klodnicki called all in from the big blind with K J, which put Zinno in yet another race holding a pocket pair – 6 6 this time around.

The board ran out a clean 5 3 2 T for Zinno, and Klodnicki – whose tournament record includes a lot of close calls in big tournaments – fell out in third place.

Most of heads-up play, all of 12 hands in total, was as even as could be; Leah and Zinno chopped the first pot and won five apiece before the final confrontation brought the proceedings to a swift and decisive conclusion.

Leah, despite falling one spot shy of victory at the LAPC, is on a remarkable run of his own. He finished second in the 2014 BLUFF Player of the Year race behind only Dan Colman, putting together a year where he won five times (including his first WSOP bracelet) and cashed 23 times. Even so, his $701,350 cash Thursday night trumps all but his runner-up result at the 2014 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open.

That wraps up BLUFF’s coverage of the 2015 LA Poker Classic, but stay tuned for more WPT coverage in the next few days from San Jose at the Bay 101 Shooting Star Classic.

2015 WPT LA Poker Classic – Final Results

  1. Anthony Zinno – $1,015,860
  2. Mike Leah – $701,350
  3. Chris Klodnicki – $451,090
  4. Igor Yaroshevskyy – $333,680
  5. Peter Neff – $250,260
  6. Peter Tran – $200,830
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Tim Fiorvanti

Tim Fiorvanti graduated from St. John's University with a B.S. in Journalism in 2008. After several years in the industry, he started working for BLUFF in the summer of 2010. He worked his way up at BLUFF and joined full time as a Senior Writer in April of 2012. Fiorvanti now serves as the Managing Editor of BLUFF. He's a tortured Mets and Jets fan, along with several other frustrating allegiances, but he's also a two-time defending BLUFF Fantasy Football Champion.
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