The 2015 World Series of Poker is less than two weeks away.
As always there are a few players coming into poker's annual smörgåsbord with a ton of good results in their recent past and a lot of momentum.
Few people fit that description better than Anthony Zinno who won back-to-back WPT titles earlier this year.
By Lee Davy
Anthony Zinno is one of only three people to win three World Poker Tour (WPT) Main Event titles
And if anyone is going to open a new club for people who have won four, it will likely be him.
The Season XIII WPT Player of the Year has of late been touring Europe before returning to Vegas to kick off the 2015 WSOP.
Meteoric rise but still undercover in Europe
While on the continent he also played in his first €100,000 Super High Roller at the European Poker Tour (EPT) Grand Final in Monte Carlo (catching everyone’s attention with a move holding six-deuce).
I found him sitting at a table in the Holland Casino during the WPT Amsterdam Main Event. This was a man I wanted to talk to.
Lee Davy: You've become one of the most high-profile live tournament players in the world. It was a meteoric rise. How does it feel?
Anthony Zinno: Everything happened pretty quickly. I have always grinded high-stakes cash games under the radar so I've always been comfortable playing relatively high stakes.
It’s interesting; in Europe I am still under the radar. I’m no Gus Hansen. This makes a difference in terms of how I have to adjust at the table.
You always have to be aware of your table image at all times. It’s been an amazing transition.
I’m well known in the poker world and am playing in all of these WPTs. I'm going to keep going until I win my fourth.
LD: We live in a world where celebrity dominates and poker is no exception.
AZ: That’s especially true now we have Twitter. The interesting thing about Twitter is it feeds the human ego.
Everyone wants followers. Who wants to be a follower? Celebrities have much more outreach than ever.
They can tweet something and hundreds of thousands of people can gain access to it instantly. That’s a very powerful thing.
The celebrity concept has always interested me. Like how Leonardo DiCaprio can be more famous than the president of the United States, for example.
In the poker world we also have celebrities. Take Phil Ivey, for example, whenever I see him, I think he’s the man. It’s an interesting dynamic.
LD: Do you think you are a celebrity within the poker community?
AZ: No, no, no … I don’t like the attention. I’m a private guy.
I’m proud of my accomplishments, and I appreciate all the praise, but when I’m sitting at the table I like to be myself.
"When I choose something I go all-in." (Photo: WPT)
I love talking to people, giving advice and being the same person I was before all of this poker success.
LD: How have your friends and family managed the transition?
AZ: They have been great. It definitely varies tremendously from player to player. Some need to validate to their family that it was the right path to take.
It was different for me. When I finished law school and started playing poker my family was cool with it. They knew I didn’t have an addictive personality.
They knew I made good decisions. They expected success from me. I know that’s a bold statement. But that’s how they felt.
They felt that whatever I set my heart to I wouldn’t stop until I was successful.
When I studied engineering at school I tried my hardest; at law school I did the same. And now in poker I will do the same.
My family and friends have been very supportive and they have never treated me any different.
LD: Why don’t you have an addictive personality, when so many players do?
AZ: I was a nerd as a teenager so I wasn’t involved with all the partying and drinking. I was more of a bookworm.
Perhaps it was never in my nature to be the bad boy. I think it’s in some people’s blood. I think they need this dopamine adrenaline rush.
I think it’s incredible. There are people who I have tremendous respect for who need this rush everyday.
They are betting on everything, they never put their phone down, and they have to be careful. It’s not natural.
In the thousands of years that are our genetic history we didn’t really have that much on our minds on a constant basis.
If our ancestors had a problem they solved it and then they got to lie down so to speak. We are not designed to be at it 100mph all the time.
But some of the guys seem to love it. I find it very intriguing.
LD: You got to experience your first €100k event at the EPT Grand Final and made a move with six-deuce off suit. Tell me about the hand.
AZ: It was exciting to play my first €100k event. I had a good first day and bagged an average stack.
I’m comfortable playing with these guys. I have played with people like Scott Seiver before. I never feel outmatched or anything with these guys.
The game flows as it does and sometimes the cards play themselves. I made it to Day 2 and had about 60bb at the start of the hand in question.
The blinds were 4k/8k with 1k ante when Max Altergott opened to 18k and was flatted by Thomas Muhlocker in the cutoff.
Altergott got out of the way.
When it fell to me in the big blind I decided to make a high-variance play. I only had six-deuce but it seemed like a good squeeze spot.
Altergott would have had a decision for all of his chips. So I made it 75k, which is a big three-bet, but these guys had never played with me before and they had just arrived at my table.
I had also won the hand previously, which also makes a slight difference.
I squeezed, Altergott snap folded and the guy who flatted, who had me covered, looked uncomfortable before calling. Now there is 180k in the pot.
I'm giving up on most boards but the flop was [Td] [4c] [3s] to give me a gutter. I flopped almost as well as you can with six deuce.
It’s a board he presumably can’t call all his chips on. He isn’t flatting with many Tx hands.
I shove it in and he called with a set of tens. It looks silly, but I don’t hate the play at all. If you're going to make this play the €100k is where you make it.
If he had 88 or 99 he would have found the fold there. There is so much on the line. He his calling off 80% of his stack and that’s so much equity.
All my friends were texting me saying it was reported wrong. I was like: 'no, I had the six-deuce.' It felt like the right spot and I have no regrets.
(Ed. note: Anthony Zinno’s quest to win his fourth WPT title ended on Day 3.)