By Sean Chaffin
Team Zynga Poker is back in action. That team actually consists of one player – Georgia’s Hugh Grant (pictured). On Zynga, the 39-year-old Emory University academic adviser is one of the top-ranked players in the world and the site decided to sponsor him last year.
Grant represented the company the last two summers at the Zynga Poker-sponsored WPT500 at Aria in Las Vegas. In 2018, he finished eighth for $26,310 and followed that up in 2019 with an 11th-place finish for $11,500. In November he played in the Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open, but is still looking for his first cash on the Main Tour.
Now among the Day 2 field at the WPT Rolling Thunder, Grant hopes he can build on a nice start on Day 1. He bagged 114,000, but dropped to about 90,000 on the second day of action.
“I’ve had an up and down day, but it’s early,” he said during the first break in the day. “The goal is the same as yesterday – make it to 8:45.”
At Thunder Valley, that would mean a Day 3 appearance and probably his first Main Tour cash. As an ambassador, Zynga sponsors his trips and his buy-ins to a few WPT events each year
“When we mapped out the calendar, this was the second one I wanted to play,” he says. “After this, it’ll be back to the Seminole for the Poker Showdown.”
The company has become a major partner with the WPT and announced a multi-year partnership agreement in February 2018. As part of the deal, the world’s largest free-to-play poker game hosts tour-themed events and in-game tournaments.
The move toward being involved with the WPT has certainly been nice for Grant. The deal with Zynga has only added to his interest in the game.
“I play Zynga Poker quite a bit and I’ve played poker for quite some time as well for about 14 years,” he says. “I tried my hand at being a professional player right after college while looking for a job, and then did it more for fun for about two years. I got back in it with the Zynga app and they’ve been able to let me come to these live events.”
On poker trips, Grant documents much of his play and experiences on social media. He’s hoping the deal extends beyond this season.
“That’s the goal,” he says. “A lot of things I believe should be performance-based and that’s kind of our conversation. I want to have strong showings and be representing the brand well.”
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas, and his work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.