*This interview was conducted in March of 2005 by PokerForums.org founder Kid[ReD]*
I sat down with professional poker player Tony G. Originally from Lithuania, Tony created an image of a hyper-aggressive player. His talkativeness is just an extension of his personality, he says, though he is often able to use it to his advantage at the table. His brashness often throws players off their games – especially in genteel Europe.
KiD[ReD]: Tony – thanks for taking the time to participate in this interview with PokerForums.org. For those that may not have heard of you in the poker world, could you please tell us a little about yourself?
Tony G: I was born in Lithuania and immigrated to Australia when I was 11. I started playing poker with my family at 12. I currently live in Vilnius, Lithuania and have 2 kids: 3 and 5, both girls. I am 31.
KiD[ReD]: Wow – 12 is a very young age to be introduced to the game of poker. Did you pick up on the game right away, or did it take a while to fall in love with it?
Tony G: I didn’t really fall in love with poker until I was 19 when I started playing at my work in Hong Kong. I was working there as a Forex trade – not a very good one – but it was gambling. I was better at poker.
KiD[ReD]: You are definitely one of the top poker players around – could you please state some of your career achievments, such as what limits you play, large tournaments, etc.?
Tony G: I have had 3 WPT final tables from 8 appearances. I have won several tournaments in Europe. I am the Omaha Pot-Limit heads-up world champion. I don’t consider my self a great player, but I really do love the game and I love to talk when I play. I play at the bike sometimes when I’m in LA. I like Badugi and Omaha Hi-Lo. I play around 400-800 limits. I also play a lot online. I play the PartyPoker $1065 single tables or the two tables. I have played around 600 of these since December. I have won $150,000 there. My nick at PartyPoker was Strong32 or adrtho. I currently do not play at PartyPoker too much work because of my site PokerNews.com.
KiD[ReD]: Many people may know you from the famous WPT Aviation Club de France episode, where you were not the most liked player there 🙂 Is being an aggressive talker part of your strategy, just your personality, or both?
Tony G: That was a special occasion. I was upset at the French players for not playing fairly. They never played against each other. I was on my own and wanted to fight – I put them on tilt and was unlucky. I wish we could play that again. The good thing is that the WPT Paris Avation 2004 tournament is coming up in a week or so on TV, and I had a lot of fun there and did better than the first time.
KiD[ReD]: You own the site, PokerNews.com – could you tell us a bit more about this?
Tony G: I started this site about 2 years ago and it has grown to be the #3 poker portal online. I love poker and love doing sites so I had to do something. We now have a large team of people working on poker news.
KiD[ReD]: This leads me to my next question. Poker seems to be on an enormous boom recently, due to the various poker shows flooding the television screen. How do you think this boom is affecting poker now, and how it will affect poker in the future?
Tony G: Well, Poker has grown many times both live and online in the last 2 years. People love to have something to do and if there is money involved, it’s attractive. In poker, anyone can become the star.
KiD[ReD]: You’ve already accomplished a lot in your career, but do you have any goals or dreams left? A WSOP title, perhaps?
Tony G: Not really a WSOP title. My main goal is to enjoy what I do. I don’t care about anything – titles are not that important. Sometimes coming second or third is really great. Obviously I would like to win a WPT or the new WSOP tour event. Anything over 4 days is a real marathon and is great to do well in. The one-day-tournaments do not mean much.
KiD[ReD]: So would it be fair to suggest then, that to you, the experience is just as great as the reward of winning?
Tony G: That is what I would think. Trying and getting close is great and if you have fun that is even better. I am not a hard, tough, pro player – I just enjoy the game. I have a drink when I play… that can make me a little different than normal but I am not there to please my opponents. It’s war on the poker table, but off the table I am a completly different person.
KiD[ReD]: You keep a blog, at www.tonygpoker.com, where you mentioned how Hellmuth is actually different than what many people may think of him. Would you mind elaborating on this?
Tony G: My experiences with Phil made me think that he is a good person who cares about his family and other people. I know that on TV he can look horrible, but he wants to win. I don’t think he is as good of a player as he thinks… he won those titles when the fields were under 80 playes. He believes he is great and that helps. I had many clashes with him in the 15k event held at the Bellagio in December. I felt it was good to have him there. He does not like to lose big pots. I think people need to put more pressure on him and play big pots with him not small.
KiD[ReD]: Do you plan on playing in the WSOP this year?
Tony G: Not really. I may or I amy not. I never played before since I have family…it’s difficult. I could play for free if I wanted to… I will see…. My next trip is in Monaco on March 16th for a $13,000 buy-in. It’s a 4-day-event and there should be about 200 players there. Then I play in London on April 8th and go to Vegas for the 25k event in April.
KiD[ReD]: Do you do anything to prepare for these big events, such as take a few days to just relax, etc.? Or do you usually just show up and play?
Tony G: I just show up and play. Sometimes I have a drink or two during the first few levels to relax.
KiD[ReD]: You seem to be a very “happy-go-lucky” kind of guy. This must help relieve a lot of the high stress level most pro players receive. Is this a fair judgement, or do you blow up and go on tilt occassionally?
Tony G: I don’t think I go on tilt. I love to protect my last chips. I dont like to just say “OK, I go all-in. It’s been tough – there you go take my chips”. I dont get upset when I lose, I never get upset or say anything to the dealers when I lose. I am upset inside and swear insdie, but I dont show it. I am ok after a few minutes.
KiD[ReD]: Tony, thanks a lot for taking the time to participate in this interview. If anyone is interested in learning more about Tony, you can visit his blog at www.tonygpoker.com or view poker news at his site www.pokernews.com