A Cranston native’s biggest win yet as a professional poker player debuted this week on national television.
Anthony Zinno, 32, a graduate of Cranston High School West, won the Borgata Poker Open in Atlantic City, N.J., in September 2013, taking home roughly $825,000. The event, held as part of the ongoing World Poker Tour XII, earned him a spot in the tour’s championship event this spring. He is also vying for the honor of being named WPT Player of the Year.
“My name is now permanently etched on the World Poker Tour trophy,” said Zinno, who recently traveled to California for another tournament. “It’s something that poker players really dream of.”
The Borgata tournament, which drew 1,192 players and had a $3,500 buy-in, is being aired in three one-hour installments this month. The first episode premiered at 8 p.m. March 2 on Fox Sports Net.
Locally, that network is carried only on satellite providers like Dish Network and DirecTV, but subscribers to cable services such as Cox and Verizon Fios were able to watch the event at 10 p.m. March 3 on Fox Sports 2. The episode, to be listed in programming guides as “World Poker Tour XII Borgata,” is also being replayed on the above networks throughout the week.
Episode two of the Borgata tournament premieres at 8 p.m. March 9 on Fox Sports Net and at 10 p.m. March 10 on Fox Sports 2, and episode three premiers at 8 p.m. March 16 on Fox Sports Net and 10 p.m. March 17 on Fox Sports 2.
Zinno said his path to professional poker began at Cranston West, where he had a special fondness for math and science courses.
“My favorite teachers were the math teachers and the science teachers … they were really encouraging and supportive,” he said.
After graduating, Zinno studied chemical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He then developed an interest in patent law – seeing a way to utilize his knowledge of math and science in a role that would allow him to help scientists and inventors – and went on to earn a law degree from Suffolk University in Boston.
During his studies, Zinno also developed a passion for poker – and found he excelled at the game.
“I’ve always had an interest in strategy games,” he said, adding that they offer an important lesson in terms of the need to constantly improve and learn from past experience. “You don’t give up. If you find you made a mistake, you fix it, you move on.”
Drawn to the financial possibilities and the ability to travel, Zinno put his law career on hold and pursued professional poker. While the schedule can be “very grueling,” he said, the experience has been a “wild ride.”
“It turns out that it was the right decision,” he said.
Zinno said he has invested the bulk of his recent winnings in the stock market, and he plans to explore business opportunities in the future. For now, he continues to focus his energy on becoming the WPT Player of the Year.
“That’s why I’m trying to play as many of these WPT events as I can,” he said. “I’m going to play my heart out until [the WPT Chamionship at the Borgata in April].”
Zinno said he returns to Cranston whenever possible, and has a deep affection for his hometown.
“I have a really supportive family, and that’s been important to me,” he said. “I loved growing up there, I always love going back there.”