Anthony Zinno has been on an incredible heater over last few months, winning his first career WSOP bracelet in $25,000 High Roller Pot Limit Omaha, and $5,112,000 in total live earnings. I caught up with him at EPT Barcelona where he was kind enough to discuss his recent heater and goals moving forward.
Choose a few wonderful moments from this year’s WSOP. Not necessarily “I won this or that’ but the moments we wouldn’t normally get to see, i.e. a touching family moment, gesture, great night out.
My cousin Kara came to Vegas for a work trip, and she knew I’d be playing a lot at the WSOP. She was so excited to see me, and that really meant a lot to me. She didn’t want to bother me while I grinded at Rio, so one night in June I was able to go hang out with her and her co-workers at the main bar inside Mandalay Bay. Her friends were very interested in my career! I hadn’t had any success yet in tournaments; that night out was a much-needed mental reset.
Antonio Esfandiari had caught the latter half of my bracelet acceptance towards the end of the WSOP. I don’t really remember what I said because I was so tired and adrenaline-ridden, but it was to the effect of “fall, keep getting back up and fighting”. He told me in-person that it was inspiring, which was awesome to hear because he has been one of my inspirations for years!
The BEST bracelet acceptance speech I've ever heard thus far. @AntZinno Heartfelt. Authentic. Inspiring. Genuine. Very classy. CONGRATS!!!— Antonio Esfandiari (@MagicAntonio) July 3, 2015
What is going on? Why are you experiencing such a heater? Break down your thoughts on what contributes to this phenomenal success.
Well, the heater portion is mathematically amazing. The fact that I’m running above average consistently in the same year is out of my control. But, it’s obviously more than luck. I’ve spent about 7 years improving upon every element of my poker game. Not just the math – I’ve watched mannerisms, honed my focus, and studied my mistakes. The game is constantly evolving and each tournament presents new challenges. I’ve learned to incorporate the skill sets that I developed earlier in life (via gaming, sports, college, travel, etc.) into live poker.
Why are you doing this? What is the end goal? What are you trying to ultimately achieve?
My prior goals were to rid myself of student loan debt and acquire the financial means to travel whenever/wherever I’d like to. Now I’d like to keep playing this game that I love for a few more years, which hopefully involves some more globetrotting. I’ve been trying my best to do some good things with the money, and aspire to be a philanthropist.
When I say the word ‘successful’ who do you immediately think of and why (doesn’t have to be poker)?
Well, after recently watching “American Sniper” I have to say the U.S. Military (and all veterans, alive or deceased). These guys and gals often give and risk their everything, with a common interest in global peace (or, defense of those that aren’t able to defend themselves). These are true heroes.
Who influences you and why?
My late grandfather, Ed Zito. He worked a side job as a carpenter, and once told me a story that I’ll never forget. He was assessing some sort of cabinetry job for a local family. When deciding upon a price at their home, he noticed that they had a baby, and not much money. So, he did what now makes perfect sense to me, and charged them the bare minimum.
What moves you and why?
Selflessness. Those that give with no thought of reward. “Doctors Without Borders” comes to mind. Volunteers. Non-profits. Or even little gestures of charity, like bringing leftovers to a homeless person. Compliment someone; make their day. These are all paths to a world with less suffering.
If you could spend 10k hrs working on anything, on your way to becoming a master at that thing, what would you work on and why?
I’d work at learning to speak a few languages fluently, starting with Italian. Then I’d attempt to learn Spanish, French, and German. I love to travel and wish that I could engage in conversation with the locals. I want to learn from them.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Never give up. Ever.
Name a habit that you have incorporated into your life that has made a significant difference.
I’ve always tried my best to keep in touch with family and old friends, despite my constant travel. I think that this has helped me to maintain a healthy balance of poker and life. Long-term success in anything requires some element of balance.
Name two things that you have no control over that really bothers you and why?
Ignorance. We need to collectively be more aware of dangerous global issues like starvation, human trafficking, wars, the environment, etc. Public knowledge is the first step to a solution. Some day I’d like to do my part in learning more and helping spread the word.
Bad parenting bothers me quite a bit. I see it, hear or read about it too often. Kids just need love, attention, and a bit of discipline. Without these, the child is much more likely to struggle later in life, and it’s not the child’s fault.
What three pieces of advice would you leave your child before you went on a one way mission to Mars?
Explore, and follow your dreams.
Never step on other people’s toes to get ahead. You will regret it later in life.
Be yourself, and have no regrets about it; life is short.