Tony Sinishtaj Reacts to Wynn Millions Winners Photo Controversy

Tony Sinishtaj Reacts to Wynn Millions Winners Photo Controversy

Tony Sinishtaj has been criticized by some for a perceived lack of emotion in his Wynn Millions winner’s photo.

This weekend, Tony Sinishtaj saw off the challenges of players such as final table chip leader Vanessa Kade, Alex Livingston and Tony Tran to claim the biggest score of his poker profession so far, winning $1.65 million by taking down the Wynn Millions Principal Event.

In the aftermath of Sinsihtaj’s spectacular victory, even so, he was criticized in some quarters for a winners’ photo that showed no emotion, featuring him holding the trophy and staring at the camera without having the obligatory posed grin.

The poker presenter Lara Ni Si, who presented some of PokerNews’ coverage of the Globe Series of Poker in Las Vegas in 2021, posted the image on her Instagram page accompanied by the comment: “Why poker is now totally non-marketable can be summed up in one image of a player who just won 1.six MILLION dollars.”

Did Ni Si have a point or was her comment way out of line? Poker Twitter, possibly predictably, blew up.

The Winner Weighs In

“That hand got me two-thirds of the chips in play I thought I was going to steamroller them.”

When we spoke to Tony Sinishtaj, he was back in his native New York after arriving property from his lengthy 10-day stint in Las Vegas. He looks back on the final table with pride on the work he put into what was a challenging final table from the first card.

“I began the final in a terrible seat compared to other massive stacks,” he says. “I was healthy with 75 blinds, but the individuals to my left had far more and I was handcuffed. I was playing quite tight.”

Despite that initial scenario, a hand exactly where Sinishtaj turned a full house with jacks more than queens against chip leader Vanessa Kade, he showed his rail the hand. He thinks that hand contributed to Kade at some point losing her stack to him.

“To the table, I can look like a maniac. On the six-5 hand, I flopped the flush draw and turned a flush with the queen of spades. I led out quite large and she had two red aces. The river pairs the queen and I have about a pot-sized bet behind and place her all-in. I guess she felt like I was obtaining out of line just before that pot and I genuinely wasn’t.”

Kade named and busted and the hand gave Sinishtaj 30 million of the 43 million in play.

“As the overwhelming chip leader it is adverse stress to go from chip led to not obtaining it and you can really feel like ‘this guy is taking advantage’. I could understand her position and get in touch with it’s a difficult spot, specifically considering that she had no notion what I had the earlier hand. That hand got me two-thirds of the chips in play I believed I was going to steamroller them. I went from 30 back down to 8 million. We played 3-handed for a long time.”

At the finish of that epic denouement, Sinishtaj had got the far better of Alex Livingston and then Isaac Kempton right after initially beginning the heads-up behind. As he explains, it was an epic period of ten days for him, and it was ultimately over.

“I played the satellite to get in, I got in. I played 1a on the satellite, I lost. I played 1b, I lost. I played 1c, I produced it. There was a day off on 2a, but I actually played ten days, with 13-hour days here and there. The last issue I want to do is take a picture.”

Sinishtaj admits that the photo was not a a single-off and that he has had a hard time posing for pictures ‘my whole life, let alone right after ten days of poker’.

“My wife constantly provides me a difficult time about images,” he says. “I don’t take good photos, sorry, I just don’t! The individual taking the picture was like ‘Smile!’ and I’m sure there are images of me smiling, but they picked that a single. I study the Twitter stuff, my buddies sent it to me. I deleted Twitter months ago and it’s since of threads like that. Even reading other stuff about other individuals, I got tired of it and I’m glad I didn’t have it via this complete factor. People want to figure out what my mental state was like at the time and if I was unhappy. It was one of the happiest moments of my life! It does not have to show in my face.”

From Goofballs to Gold

“There was a huge incentive in the previous to be a goofball.”

As Sinishtaj remarks, the life of a modern poker player is all about keeping emotion out of the game. That’s a direct flip from the previous in his eyes.

“There was a massive incentive in the past to be a goofball,” he says. “You got an endorsement deal, you got Full Tilt Poker or PokerStars to throw you half a million dollars just to put on a patch. There have been men and women playing the World Series in 2004 and 2005 who have been producing animal noises when they won a pot. You do not see that any longer. They wanted consideration, and they created more carrying out that than playing the tournament. I wouldn’t have completed it back then, let alone now when there’s absolutely nothing on the line.”

When the tournament ended, Sinishtaj says he just wanted to ‘Get outta Vegas’. He hadn’t observed his young loved ones in ten days and had missed his child’s birthday on the day of the final table.

“I have a three-month-old infant,” he says. “My wife is there with the little ones alone clearly she wants me house and I want to get outta there. My job was carried out. At times, your companion is like ‘It’s more than for you now, get house, it is time to come back’. When I’m at house, I’m a dad initial. When I go away, I try to get into that poker mindset. You cannot be a dad and poker player at the same time you can attempt, but you’ll do each poorly. We have been in the process of purchasing a home, but this clearly tends to make it much simpler. This is going to change my life for the much better. If I could set the family up with a nice spot to live and school, then I’m doing my part.”

Sinishtaj’s loved ones inspiration is not exclusive to the generation of three young young children he is raising with his wife. Just ahead of his 1st significant win on the Planet Poker Tour in 2017, Sinishtaj lost his father a few months soon after becoming a father for the very first time himself.

“He was my greatest fan in poker,” Sinishtaj says. “Until then, I truly hadn’t won something. I’d had a second-spot to Joe McKeehen and a Circuit Main Event result for $one hundred,000 that was my largest score, but practically nothing crazy. He was always there rooting me on. I don’t remember exactly when it started but playing this tournament, I truly felt his presence like I’d never felt it before at the table.”

Deep into the Wynn Millions Main Occasion on Day three, Sinishtaj could hear his father’s voice. It kept him grounded and inspired him to believe he was destined to win, it was a lot to deal with while trying to negotiate a hard field.

“It was a little overwhelming to deal with whilst playing, but I really felt like I was going to win. When I was all in with jacks six-handed against ace-king, an ace comes then a jack. I’m all in against Livingston 4-handed with king-jack on jack-three-deuce and he has jack-three the board runs out eight-eight. The third hand of heads-up, I get aces, the kid gets jacks. The whole tournament felt that way. It is a surreal expertise to run so nicely in 1 of the greatest tournaments you have played.”

Sinishtaj tells us ‘I truly played my best’. The day ahead of the final, he confided in a pal that if there was one particular point he wanted to make sure of it was that he wasn’t going to ‘let poor play ruin my chances’. Determined to bring his A-game, Sinishtaj felt like his Dad was out there below the lights with him when he accomplished his lifelong dream.

‘And then they wanna take pictures, y’know!’ he laughs.

Do Poker Players Have a Duty to Entertain?

“I was proper there with the Moneymaker Boom.”

1 player may possibly sometimes say or do one thing that initiates a spike in growth or recognition of poker. But watching the old names on High Stakes Poker has to co-habit with looking for new heroes that come from the modern age. Poker is so a lot bigger than it has ever been and that juxtaposition of welcoming the new whilst treasuring days gone by exists inside the grasp of the media as properly as with players and fans.

Daniel Negreanu has joined the discussion on Twitter, saying: “Lara Ni Si properly points to a troubling trend. The no celebration, no emotion, too cool for college culture is challenging to sell. That’s just an indisputable fact.” Sinishtaj agrees but says it’s not his duty to sell the game.

“Is it far better if a recreational player who looks and acts like he’s a recreational player wins? Almost certainly,” agrees Sinishtaj. “It may well want to make an individual feel ‘If that guy can do it, so can I.’ Maybe they appear at me and do not see that, but that’s not my job.”

Ironically, Sinishtaj was precisely that guy much more than two decades ago.

“I was correct there with the Moneymaker Boom”, he says. “When he won, I fell in really like with the game. In 2003, I was 22 years old. Possibly you needed a Moneymaker to win to get me interested in the game. It truly became my dream. I get it and comprehend where Negreanu is coming from, but I’m sorry that is not me. I can’t adjust my personality simply because it may create more buy-ins to poker. I’m not gonna be somebody I’m not. I wouldn’t know how to.”

Sinishtaj properly points out that while the Wynn Millions is one of the greatest tournaments around, the event is not televised and there are no hole cards on show to fans.

“I know it is costly for productions teams, but if you truly want to market place the game, we could have played the final table at the PokerGO Studio. That is how you marketplace the game, the game is not marketed by the winner’s photo. Men and women want to watch it and see my cards.

Could 1 player actually market the game now as Moneymaker after did? Sinishtaj laughs.

“It’s definitely not going to be me! The game is not what it used to be, a lot of perform requirements to be place in. I’m constantly attempting to get much better due to the fact everybody else is getting better. I do not play the modest field huge purchase-in higher rollers. To play this and win is almost unreal and there wasn’t even a chop produced. I would have been content to make 1. When we got 4-handed, [Kempton] politely stated ‘I do not chop’, and there was by no means any speak about it at all. Your opponent has to be a person like that to outright win a single of these.”

Sinsihtaj agrees that of the a lot of photographs taken of him during the game, the ones where he’s in fact playing poker look more like the actual him, saying ‘I often look greater in those pictures’.

Maybe the classic winner’s photo is a point of the past. Tony Sinishtaj deserves his moment in the spotlight as significantly as the next player, no matter whether he is smiling or not.

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