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Final Table Takedown: Anthony Zinno On His Second WSOP Bracelet Win

by Steve Schult |  Published: Aug 28, 2019

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Most poker players don’t even dream about doing what Anthony Zinno has accomplished thus far in his poker career… it would seem too greedy. The numbers have been mind-boggling.

Since starting his run in 2013, the Rhode Island-native has won three World Poker Tour titles and two World Series of Poker bracelets, including the WPT L.A. Poker Classic main event title and the WSOP $25,000 pot-limit Omaha high roller, each worth seven figures. Those two titles were the foundation for his campaign as the Card Player Player of the Year winner in 2015.

Last summer, Zinno won the CPPT Venetian main event for $466,670 before making the final table of WPT Choctaw. This year, he final tabled WPT Rolling Thunder, and then at the WSOP, finished runner-up in a $1,500 seven card stud event, was part of the team that placed third in the $1,000 tag team tournament, just narrowly missed the final table of the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E., and then won the $1,500 pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better event for $279,920 and his second bracelet. Zinno now has career tournament earnings totaling almost $8.9 million.

Zinno sat down with Card Player to discuss his thought process from a few hands he played at the final table of his second bracelet victory.

Hand 1

Concepts: Preflop hand selection in pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better.

The Action: Anthony Zinno raised to 450,000 from under the gun, Jordan Spurlin called on the button and Rodney Burt defended the big blind. Burt checked, Zinno bet the pot, Spurlin folded, Burt check-raised to the size of the pot and Zinno called all in for about 3,000,000.

Steve Schult: Your hand is clearly a premium in this game with aces, potential nut spades, and a potentially good low draw, but Burt’s hand doesn’t look that strong. Would you be defending the big blind with Burt’s hand? What kind of range is reasonable to defend with from the big blind against an open and a call?

Anthony Zinno: His hand is pretty bad because it’s going to be very tough to end up with the winning high hand, but because it’s double suited, he has a good price to peel from the big blind. That’s the sort of hand where you hope, specifically, to see the A-3-X or A-5-X flop. I would say that it’s okay to see a flop with this if you’re very confident in your post-flop game. Otherwise, fold this spot pre.

SS: Can you elaborate on what makes a good starting hand in this game? I’m under the impression that preflop equities run close in PLO and PLO8. What makes something like A-K-2-3 much stronger than A-J-5-6?

AZ: The equities of PLO8 hands, factoring in overall math for winning both the high and the low, will run pretty close preflop if it’s heads-up. But this game very often puts us in three- or four-way situation. The A-K-2-3 plays extremely well multi-way because it can often flop the nut-low draw and a solid high hand. The A-J-5-6 can cause trouble because it often flops a mediocre low draw and a mediocre high hand, like on a J-8-5 flop for example.

SS: After Burt checks, you bet the pot. Why use the max sizing instead of a smaller bet?

AZ: This was specific to having two pot-sized bets behind. I get to pot-commit myself and show my opponents that I’m committed. The goal there was to take the 1.45 million-chip pot down on the flop, potentially denying equity to hands like A-2-X-X, 4-5-X-X, 8-9-X-X, etc.

SS: What did you think Burt’s check-raising range would consist of? Do you think he’ll have a seven that often or is it more likely you’ll be up against a wrap and a low draw or something like that?

AZ: When he check-raises here, it’s almost always 7-X-X-X, 6-6-X-X or A-2-X-X. So, we definitely aren’t thrilled, but we have already committed.

SS: Does having two aces in your hand have any blocker value with regards to what Burt could be betting? What effect does that have on your hand?

AZ: Having A-A-X-X, and assuming the button flatted with A-X-X-X, we can be quite sure that the big blind doesn’t have an ace. This makes it much more likely that his check-raise has us dominated on the high end. Which is really bad news because now we are drawing to the low.

Hand 2

Concepts: Playing big hands tricky at shallower stack depths.

The Action: Anthony Zinno limped in from the cutoff, the small blind folded and Scott Abrams checked his option in the big blind. On the flop, both players checked. Abrams checked the turn and Zinno bet 450,000. Abrams called. Abrams checked the river as well and Zinno bet 850,000. Abrams called.

SS: You have double suited aces with a deuce. This seems like the dream hand in this game. Why did you decide to limp? Is it standard to mix in limps with big hands in this game? Were you planning to limp-raise?

AZ: It’s good to mix limps in in this game when your table is playing overly tight preflop, which was the case. The stacks were becoming shallower, so we don’t expect to be raised preflop unless an opponent also has a monster, which is rare. Had that happened, then yeah, we are excited to get it in preflop.

SS: Why did you decide to check the flop after flopping the nuts with the nut low draw? While it is still considered a big bet game, your bet sizing is limited to the size of the pot. Do you think you can still get stacks in by the river if you check the flop?

AZ: Since he was forced to play the hand because he was in the big blind, his hand isn’t usually strong enough to continue on this flop. So, I opted to give him a free card and take it from there. Depending on your opponent’s skill level and hand, this play will sometimes backfire.

SS: When Abrams check-calls your turn bet, what type of hands can he have? Is this always a one-way hand for him when he shows such little aggression?

AZ: He is a good player, so he likely had a good high hand like a flush, or a very good low, like A-3-X-X. Statistically speaking, it’s quite difficult for him to have strength on both sides in this spot.

SS: How did you decide on your river bet sizing? Can you have many bluffs in this spot? What type of hands would you be bluffing with?

AZ: Betting 850,000 felt like the right amount to have a high chance of being paid off. I’m never bluffing in this spot, but he knows that I could be applying ICM pressure with only one side of the board, which is a very common tactic in PLO8.

For example, A-2-X-X with a useless high, or A-K-J-10 with a flush would be good hands to apply pressure with that aren’t two-way hands. After he called the river, my guess is that he had a flush or a straight, with a decent low.

Hand 3

Concepts: Applying pressure in marginal spots.

The Action: Anthony Zinno limped in on the button, Rodney Burt completed the small blind and Tomas Schropfer checked his option in the big blind. On the flop, Burt checked, Schropfer checked, Zinno bet 450,000. Burt folded and Schropfer called. On the turn, Schropfer checked, Zinno bet 1,800,000, Schropfer moved all in for about 3,600,000 and Zinno called.

SS: You decide to limp again. This time it doesn’t look like a trap. How good of a hand is A-9-6-4 with nut hearts in PLO8? Why not apply pressure on the blinds with a raise?

AZ: This hand is very playable from the button three-handed, but if I raise and get three-bet, I’m put in a bad spot. Particularly since the big blind had about 14 big blinds, and there’s no ante, so we have less pot odds to get it in preflop.

If there were antes, then I would want to raise and put pressure on the blinds. And I’d be willing to reluctantly go with it versus the 14-big blind stack.

SS: You have the second nuts, but a fairly weak low draw and no redraw for the high half. How do you generally proceed in this situation?

AZ: I flopped quite well for three-handed play, which made it much less likely that one of my opponents had A-2-X-X or A-3-X-X. This is a good spot to bet and deny equity versus boat draws or flush draws, which are both likely to flat the flop. Since both of my opponents were playing very tight, if I had been check-raised, I may have folded. Especially against the larger stack in the small blind.

SS: On the turn, the low draw comes in and you get the rest of the money in. Is this the bottom of your range to get it all in?

AZ: This isn’t a bad turn card because no flush or no boat came in, so we are looking very good for the high. With a low draw to go along with it, I opted to pot-commit for max pressure versus his stack size. This is around the middle of my range to bet pot and get it in. The lower end of that range, in this exact spot, would be something like a good low draw and a high or draw.

SS: How would your approach change in this spot with a one-way hand?

AZ: With one-way hands like Q-J-10-9, I’m almost always checking back the turn in this spot, since the low came in. The only one-way hands that may want to pot-commit and apply pressure on the turn would be 2-3-X-X or the 2-4-X-X with a decent high.