Anthony Zinno just became the third player to win three World Poker Tour titles, the third to win back-to-back titles, and the first to do both. So how does his résumé stack up against those other players?
The three-time club
The three-time WPT winners’ club is an impressive one to join. Former WSOP main event champion Carlos Mortensen and Gus Hansen are the only other players to do it, and Zinno took down the L.A. Poker Classic this week to get his third WPT win in as many years. So whose three wins are the most impressive?
Hansen is best known for his success in the WPT (well, that and losing $20 million in cash games on Full Tilt). He rose to fame because of his TV appearances as the WPT was getting off the ground. He won the first WPT event ever staged, the Five Diamond World Poker Classic in 2002, for $556,000. He won his second title in 2003 (still season one of the WPT), taking the L.A. Poker Classic for more than half a million dollars. Despite those wins, he didn’t take the season 1 player of the year title, which went to fellow two-time winner Howard Lederer.
He was back at it in season 2, taking down the PokerStars Caribbean Poker Adventure (which was a WPT event back then) for $455K. Amazingly, despite his early success, Hansen hasn’t cashed on the WPT since season six; it is now season 13.
Mortensen started his winning ways at the Festa Al Lago (Doyle Brunson North American Poker Championship), picking up a first prize of a million dollars in 2004. That made him the first player to win at both the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour.
He is the only one of the three to win the $25,000 WPT Championship, taking home a prize of almost $4 million in 2007. His final WPT win came in 2010 at the Hollywood Poker Open. This time, he won $1.3 million.
Zinno came out of nowhere to win the Borgata Poker Open in 2013, with no six-figure scores to his name before winning this one for $825,000. While he was grinding and picking up lots of relatively small cashes between his WPT titles, his biggest cash was $38,499.
Then he came out of the woodwork again to win the Fallsview Poker Classic in Canada in February for $302,000, before his LAPC win of just over a million dollars.
So whose three wins are the most impressive? We’d give the nod to Mortensen. In the WPT Championship, he likely faced the toughest, deepest field (639 players) out of any of the nine tournaments won by the three players. And that tournament had the biggest payday and biggest buy-in, as well. Mortensen’s 2004 win was against a field (312 players) that was bigger than any of Hansen’s wins.
Two of Hansen’s wins came in the pre-Chris Moneymaker poker boom, when not too many players were plunking down $10,000 to play a poker tournament other than the WSOP main event. Of course, that makes his wins back then pretty impressive, because he was going against almost exclusively players who probably considered themselves pros at the time. His 2004 win forced him to get through the biggest field of any of his wins, 221 at the PCA.
Zinno’s win came in a different era of the WPT. Usually, the buy-ins are smaller, and the fields are bigger. His first WPT win came against a field of nearly 1,200, with a buy-in of $3,500. The field, while larger, was likely softer on average than the early wins by Hansen and Mortensen. The Fallsview win last month was against a field of more than 400, with a buy-in of $5,000. His most impressive win is likely his latest — the $10,000 buy-in LAPC attracted a field of more than 500 and is a stop that many of the top pros make.
So, pick your poison. Winning three WPT titles against a field of any size or skill level is an impressive feat.
The back-to-back club
The three players who have won consecutive titles? Zinno, Marvin Rettenmaier and Darren Elias. We already looked at Zinno’s wins, so let’s take a closer look at the other two.
While Rettenmaier’s wins were back-to-back, they actually came in different seasons of the WPT. He won the season ten WPT World Championship for $1.2 million. He followed that up with a win in the Merit Cyprus Classic to open season 11, a victory worth $287K.
Elias’ two wins also came during the current season of the WPT, but in 2014. First, he won the Borgata Poker Open in New Jersey for $844K in September. He followed that up with a win in the WPT Caribbean for $128K.
I’d say Elias’ consecutive wins were the easiest of the trio. While he beat a huge field of more than 1,200 in Jersey, his next win came in a smaller buy-in tourney against a field of just 118.
From there, you’re parsing out details of the wins by Zinno and Rettenmaier. Zinno’s Fallsview win ($5,000 buy-in, 400+ entries, about $300K for first) and Rettenmaier’s Cyprus win ($4,400 buy-in, 300+ entries, about $300K for first) seem pretty similar. If anything, we’ve give the nod to Zinno for beating what was likely a tougher field, although there were no household names at the final table of either event.
So it comes down to Zinno’s LAPC title and Rettenmaier’s world championship. There is little place to hide at the $25K buy-in world championship, even though the field was pretty small (152) for the year-end event. The final table featured big name pros: Michael Mizrachi, Nick Schulman and Steve O’Dwyer.
There were more than three times as many players in the $10K buy-in LAPC (538) when compared with Rettenmaier’s WPT WC. Two pretty good pros were at this final table: Mike Leah and Chris Klondicki. Without going player for player through every entry, the field at the LAPC was likely a very good one.
It’s almost too close to call. If you forced me to pick, I’d say Zinno’s repeat win was more impressive than Rettenmaier’s, for making it through two larger fields. But you’d be hard-pressed to argue against Mad Marvin’s consecutive wins, one of which was a world championship.
What we do know is that if Zinno wins the Bay 101 Shooting Star this coming week, he’s on the heater of a lifetime.
On Twitter: @DustinGouker.