Social firestorm flares after alleged bag theft by Anthony Zinno at Wynn Las Vegas tourney

Haley Hintze
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Posted on: January 31, 2024 7:57 pm EST

PokerOrg has spoken to both parties involved in this story.

Prominent tournament pro Anthony Zinno, a four-time WSOP bracelet winner and three-time main event winner on the WPT, sits at the center of a social-media firestorm after allegedly pocketing $19,000 from a forgotten bag another player left behind.

The incident occurred late on December 18, 2023 in the ballroom at the Wynn where play had just concluded in Flight 1B of a $2,750+250 NLH WPT World Championship preliminary event. Zinno and the player later identified as the owner of the lost bag, Corel Theuma, both survived the day’s play and were among perhaps 200 players who bagged-and-tagged their chip stacks, then slowly left the ballroom.

What happened next began, according to multiple accounts, with actions that were captured on security footage and led to Zinno being accused of pocketing most of the chips and/or cash that had allegedly been inside Theuma’s bag. Theuma became aware that he’d forgotten the small bag minutes after leaving the Wynn ballroom, and he reportedly returned to find the bag had disappeared.

Theuma filed police and security reports after returning to the Wynn the following day for his Day 2 action. Zinno also played on Day 2. After busting out in 103rd place, casino officials contacted Theuma about the lost-bag situation and told him that a suspect had been undergoing questioning. The officials led him to an off-floor room where he allegedly saw Zinno being questioned by a casino official with two security guards also present.

corel-theuma-mspt
Corel Theuma (Image source: MSPT)

Theuma also claimed — his complete thread of statements on Twitter/X is below — that he was told by Wynn officials that Zinno was being questioned by security and later by “Metro” (the Las Vegas Metro Police Department), and that Zinno had been banned by Wynn and Encore from all Wynn-owned properties.

Whether Zinno has been banned by Wynn or was arrested in the matter remains only public conjecture at this time. Some of the early parts of the incident appear to have been indirectly confirmed by people close to both players, but the truth of the matter remains deeply hidden, with multiple explanations still viable that involve both innocence or guilt.

Tale hidden from public view for weeks

Whatever happened at the Wynn remained out of view to the poker public for more than a month, though both players almost certainly discussed the incident with their own circles of friends. That changed last week, after Zinno made a deep run in the championship event of the 2024 Borgata Winter Poker Open. Zinno logged a $203,473 payday, his best tourney cash since 2019.

One or more online commenters, likely hearing of the original tale via Theuma, offered derogatory comments about Zinno referencing the incident with the lost/stolen bag. That led to a mention in an “Only Friends” podcast episode, which in turn led to threads on multiple poker forums and plenty of commentary on social media.

Well-known pro Ryan Laplante, was among the next wave of commenters. Laplante later deleted the post, but that led to Theuma posting a longer thread about the incident. With the disclaimer that some of what Theuma posted are unproven allegations, while other details cannot yet be confirmed independently, this is what Theuma posted:

Few details likely to be forthcoming in near future

Theuma has kept true to his promise to not discuss the matter further in public. However, it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to post any police report he might receive, which is typically frowned upon by legal counsel. Even though it’s probable that Zinno did find and walk off with an unattended bag, not much else can be stated with similar likelihood.

PokerOrg has spoken with both Zinno and Theuma, and both sides confirmed that they have been urged by their attorneys not to speak specifically about the matter. That includes divulging any police or casino-security report that might exist. PokerOrg was still able to clarify some details related to the incident.

Alternate explanations still exist

Theuma’s claim that the bag originally contained $20,000 but only held $1,000 when recovered by casino security will also bear further scrutiny. In his Twitter/X thread, he claimed that he might be able to prove that he had the $20,000 in his possession. Even if Theuma can prove that, however, it might not be enough.

Casinos and operators are not liable for losses of cash or valuables: if they were, they’d soon go bankrupt from fraudulent claims. That likely leaves Theuma needing to prove that Zinno had, indeed, searched through the bag and removed the chips and cash.

Anthony Zinno playing at WPT Choctaw
Anthony Zinno playing at WPT Choctaw in April 2023

Besides taking the bag from the playing area, Zinno was also accused by Theuma of taking the bag into a restroom, implying that the bag was searched and the money removed there. Theuma stated he was told that by Wynn security, but acknowledged that he hadn’t seen the footage himself.

Whether or not simply entering a restroom with another person’s lost property is any sort of criminal act is far beyond this reporter’s expertise on Nevada property law, though if Zinno were to claim at some point that he was trying to find the bag’s rightful owner (and simply needed to use the restroom), it could play into the situation as well. Though picking up an unattended bag and entering a restroom with it are seen as significant errors in judgment, Nevada’s “good samaritan” laws appear to offer wide protections that can be used as a defense in many matters similar to this.

On the flip side, it’s also quite easy for a casino to ban someone based on the appearance of something seen on security footage, but far more difficult to actually prove a theft.

The slim possibilities that Theuma’s missing $19,000 never existed or that it was stolen by someone else have be acknowledged as well. Theuma filed his reports about the lost bag long before he was told that Zinno was being questioned in the matter, largely rendering irrelevant any assertion that Theuma was targeting Zinno. On another tack, a defense of Zinno would also argue that the bag passed through hands other than Zinno’s, including casino security staff. Theft by security also seems unlikely here, though such cases aren’t unheard of.

As is typical in these situations, time will tell. If Zinno was arrested and faced a trial on any sort of criminal charge, that would eventually be known via public court records. Whether he has been banned from Wynn properties might never be known in an official sense, since casinos don’t comment on the record in such matters, but a Zinno absence from Wynn tournaments would become evident in online poker databases after some time has passed.

PokerOrg will return to the story as developments warrant.