Women's daily tournaments spell success for Zinzi de Silva

Zinzi de Silva was introduced to poker on a trip to Las Vegas about 18 months ago and has been taking it seriously ever since. Since that fateful trip, she has won a package to the 2012 PokerStars Women Live event in the Bahamas and a similar package to the London event the previous year. She has also won two Women's Tuesday tournaments and final-tabled the Women's Sunday six times. Her biggest cash to date is $3,700, but as she will tell you here, she's just getting started.

Her incisive comments about the "mental gymnastics" aspect of poker and her quest to establish an "alpha female" presence piqued my interest, but more on that later. For now, let's start with the basics.

PokerStars Women (PSW): Zinzi, can you give us a bit of background about where you're from and how to find you online at PokerStars?

Zinzi de Silva (Zinzi): My screen name is HUSTLheR0, and my real name is Zinzi de Silva. I proudly hail from Toronto, though a good portion of my upbringing was spent abroad (my maternal grandparents are retired diplomats), and I try to travel at least twice a year, in order to appease my need to surf. I would say I'm a Toronto native through and through, as I was born, bred, and continue to reside in the downtown core of Toronto.

Zinzi de Silva.jpg

PSW: Are you primarily playing the Women's Daily tournaments, or do you play other tournaments on PokerStars as well?

Zinzi: The women's tournaments and daily qualifiers have been an integral part of my growth and continual learning of tournament strategy. They continue to be a staple in my weekly schedule. It has been awesome to see how I've developed from about a year and a half ago. The women's tournaments have also grown both in size and competitiveness, and flourished into other forms like the women's 6-max. I do try and play other tournaments like the Daily Bigs, major series like WCOOP, and Sunday tournaments that offer opportunities for a good ROI. The PokerStars apps have allowed me to multi-task and participate, so when I have a break from other priorities, it's so convenient.

PSW: What's your favorite thing about the daily tournaments?

Zinzi: I know that consistency and persistence are traits of a great player and essential attributes for properly learning a craft. The daily tournaments provide a fantastic opportunity at an accessible buy-in for a learning player, such as myself, to regularly exercise their knowledge. They also serve as a fertile ground to apply new knowledge or test new concepts out. Further, they provide a convenient sample in which you can compare results and progress over time, assuming you play daily or frequently. I also personally love meeting new female players and find the environment friendly and supportive. It is a great way for women to find their bearings before getting into open events.

PSW: How did you get started in poker?

Zinzi: I was introduced to poker while taking a long weekend trip to Las Vegas to visit a university friend (Goleafsgo14). I met the incredible Thuy Doan and my lexicon then became inclusive of female poker excellence. I then started to study the game and strategies. I have been playing with purpose, i.e., knowing the rules and studying optimal strategy, in my leisure time for about 1.5 years.

PSW: Would you describe yourself as a very competitive person?

Zinzi: Yes, I am very competitive and essentially I love the idea of a theoretically equal opportunity game where the best manager wins. I also, to be frank, enjoy the idea of establishing an alpha female, through a series of decisions where you have to constantly adapt to changing variables. Daily tournaments provide the opportunity to prove myself on a continual basis as well as connect with other women who enjoy the same interests at a small buy-in.

PSW: How many hours a week do you play poker?

Zinzi: If I don't have any overhangs from my priorities and responsibilities, I typically play around two hours on three to four tables, three times a week, and anywhere from five to 10 hours on Sunday. As I'm still in my poker infancy, I'm trying to maximize my "in the classroom" grounding before endeavoring to a higher volume. I believe in maximizing quality over quantity, and then shifting to try and find the sweet spot between both.

PSW: Would you call poker a serious pursuit for you, or mainly a hobby?

Zinzi: I would define poker for me, at this juncture of my life, as an intrigue. I'm an ultra-competitive person, and I think there is a very thin line between a hobby and a pursuit if you have a certain personality type and games of risk-management are involved (.e.g. chess, tennis, golf, poker, Settlers of Catan). I HATE losing anything and believe you should always endeavor to execute personal bests. Poker in my perspective is like mathematical gymnastics, and it is something you constantly need to be in fit form for and continually try to get better at.

PSW: Are your friends and family supportive?

Zinzi: Fortunately, as my direct family and close friends have prior knowledge of me trading stocks, I've kind of explained poker as a similar activity. Most people I know support my social justice MO of minority females of color being better educated in financial literacy and the need for them to be more involved in financial risk management.

Also, at the most recent PCA ladies, I met Kami Chisholm who coincidently lives very close by. She has been an awesome new friend and another female to talk to poker with. That's what I think is one of the best outcomes is of regular ladies tournament--that you can foster an amazing support network while playing.

For more about Zinzi, see this article about her 2012 PCA satellite win. And to read more about women in poker, pro interviews, strategy and more see our PS Women home page.

Rebekah Mercer
@PokerStars in PS Women