Anthony Zinno had a hard time remembering all the final tables he made this summer.
Zinno has final tabled every event he’s cashed in this summer and won his first World Series of Poker bracelet last night.
To win the bracelet he overcame a 125-player field to win the $25,000 Pot-Limit Omaha High Roller and $1.1 million.
While he says that’s a day he’ll never forget, he forgot that he made the $111,111 One Drop High Roller final table just a few days ago. In that event Zinno won $565,864 for finishing 7th.
For most people, that memory would be seared and sealed into their brains; but for Zinno, it’s just another number in the long poker equation he’s dedicating his life to solving.
Zinno, who has made five final tables this summer, now has more than $5 million in live tournament earnings and is currently second --just behind Mike Gorodinsky-- in the WSOP Player of the Year race.
PokerListings caught up to with Zinno in the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E Championship --an event he rushed into right after he won the $25K PLO-- to find out what his secret is.
PokerListings: So, everyone’s been wondering, why have you been doing so well in poker?
"Step it up, step it the F up."
Anthony Zinno: I'm taking it very, very seriously you know, like making sure that I try my best to get good sleep, no partying, trying to eat well, focus, minimizing mistakes.
If you make a mistake you pretty much have to slap yourself in the face and say, ‘Alright, I'm not playing my A-game, I'm playing my B-Game.
‘Step it up, step it the F up.’
You know, I'm out here, this is my thing, this is my passion.
My opinion comes from my grandfather who said, whatever someone decides to be in life, be the best at it.
If you're not putting your all into it then you're wasting your time.
I want to make sure that I'm doing my best.
So if I drink the night before and I'm hungover, I know my brain's not functioning at 100 percent.
I’ve also put in a heavy, heavy volume for tournaments recently. [Out of all the tournaments I’ve played in the last eight years] half of them have been in the last few years.
So with high volume, you get to see more results.
Also, of course, I’ve been running above expectation.
Mathematically, in one summer, no matter how well you play and how well-prepared you are, you can't expect to make five final tables and a bracelet, you just can't.
I would've been happy having just made a couple final tables and being break-even or slightly profitable for the summer because, statistically speaking , it's tough to even do that.
This summer's been phenomenal.
PL: So is this the best you’ve ever played?
AZ: Yes, I'm playing the best I've ever played.
In the small buy-in noon events I've been playing a higher variance style because there's seemingly always something good at 4pm.
So a high variance style doesn't mean necessarily that I'm playing poorly, but I'm gambling.
When you do that, you're trying to chip up early. It hasn't really worked in those but I think all the events that I've made final tables in were 4pm events.
They have better structures. The better the structure is, the better I'm going to do.
Last year their starting chips just weren't enough; if you took a bad beat in the first few hours you're pretty much out of the tournament.
The 2015 One Drop High Roller final table.
But now it's a pretty damn good structure given that there are so many events in the summer.
So kudos to the WSOP for making the structures better.
PL: Was the fact that you’d made so many final tables without winning one weighing on your mind yesterday?
AZ: The One Drop final table was disheartening because I fought really hard and played really well and I finally got a good spot where I got my stack in with ace-king to [Jonathan] Duhamel's ace-queen.
To his credit, the hands played themselves. Unfortunately he turned a queen and knocked me out.
Then I went from that and late registered the event I ended up winning.
So I hopped into that event and I said to myself, ‘Alright, this is a great event, great structure, this is PLO, this is fun, all the wizards are here and I'm going to play my best.'
I played well, bagged up nice and day 2 went phenomenally. I had a couple of spots where my wraps hit and I chipped up well.
Once I had the lead, I just started crushing chip wise. I've got a lot of experience with deepstack PLO and I controlled the tables for most of Day 2.
Towards the latter of Day 2 I was the table captain and ended up bagging well above average going into Day 3.
Statistically speaking, in PLO, having a sizable chip lead going into Day 3 with 12 players left -- where there's no antes and you can kind of control your own variance -- I had a really good chance of winning.
So once we're at the final table, I maintained the chip lead throughout. Then, at some point, I just took a sizable chip lead going into three-handed.
I had 8 million against 2.5 million and 2.5 million. So at that point, I was pretty sure I was going to win.
I'm a math guy so it's not about, ‘Oh, I got 5th, 6th and 7th place, now I have to get first.’ It's not like that, it's just a math thing.
I have, you know, a huge chip lead so I'm going to use that and, statistically speaking, I'm going to win.
PL: So, statistically speaking, do you think you’re due for a downswing?
AZ: I'm second right now in the WSOP Player of the Year so I'm going to play as much I can. Just like each hand is anew, in a poker tournament, each tournament is anew.
"That's the beauty of poker, it's not one skill set."
Nothing from the past affects the future and you just pretend the past didn't happen.
There's no such thing as running bad. You have run bad in the past, but now, boom, it can simply come to a stop.
I'm confident in this tournament and I'm just going to play my mathematical A-game as best I can and just hope for good results.
So what has happened thus far doesn't affect my decision making as far as playing more and things like that.
I’m playing well and enjoying it and chasing the Player of the Year.
PL: We even saw you playing the online bracelet event while you were playing this. How did that go?
AZ: I tried to bluff and it didn't work out so I busted out.
I was trying to play that while playing the H.O.R.S.E. so I wasn't playing my best game in that for sure.
So I'm a little tilted about that. But it was fun. it was actually the first time that I've played on the software; it was nice and the deposit process was easy.
It was impressive.
PL: A lot of online players are also very mathematically inclined, do you think they have a hard time transitioning to live poker?
AZ: Yeah, I think they struggle.
I don't want to name any names, but I've played with some big online names and I'm very intuitive and can sense uncomfortableness throughout the tournament.
There are certainly some situations where I'm watching them, I get tells. That's just natural, it's all part of the game.
That's the beauty of poker. It's not one skill set; there's a solid 10 skill sets you have to master.
There’s like psychological elements, patience elements, mathematical elements and preparation elements.
All these elements are required to become, you know, like a Phil Hellmuth.