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Tony G

By Paul McGuire

Love him or hate him, the outspoken and brash Tony G is certainly one of the most colorful players in poker. He’s frequently asked to appear on TV tables because you never know what the unpredictable Tony G is going to say or do next. He’s not just one of the bad boys of poker and a former professional basketball player, but he’s also one of the best tournament players in the world winning over $1.3 million in his career.

Tony G
Tony G - Source: Las Vegas & Poker

Tony G was born as Antanas Guoga in Lithuania. He always had a knack for games and showed an exceptional grasp of the game of chess when he was just six-years old. He was accepted into a chess school where all the most gifted young chess players in the former Soviet Union attended. Since and early age he dealt with the pressures of competition. When he was still a kid, he earned the honor of being the local Rubik’s Cube champion in his hometown of Kaunas, Lithuania.

When Tony G was 11 years-old, his family left Soviet-ruled Lithuania and moved to Australia. His family settled in Lithuania. He excelled in sports and became an excellent basketball player. He played pro ball for a while before he became an agent and began to represent his former teammates.

Tony G was always around a card game. He started playing in big games when he was 15 years-old. Since he looked much younger than he appeared, he had an even harder time winning the respect of his opponents. No matter where he played, everyone was gunning for the kid. He thrived on the competitive nature of poker and welcomed the constant challenges. After a while, he started beating the games in Australia. That’s when he moved to Hong Kong, where he lived as a dealer for a short stint.

Tony G built his bankroll to over $200,000 and decided to head to Las Vegas. Since he was under 21 years old and not of the legal age to gamble, Tony G secured himself a fake ID. When he hit the tables, his results were not good. He lost his entire bankroll, but he learned a few things. The players in Las Vegas were much better than what he was used to, and he realized that he needed to improve his game.

Completely broke, Tony G headed back home to Australia. After a short stop in London, Tony wound up in Vienna, Austria. His time was well spent as he developed into a mature and profitable poker player while he lived in Vienna. That’s where he also got his nickname. Antanas used to list himself on waiting lists as “Tony G,” and that nickname stuck. After a while he did so well at the games in the casinos and card rooms around Austria that he could not find a game to play in. No one wanted to play with him because he was too good.

Around that time, Tony G also discovered online poker which is another passion of his. Without having to leave his home, Tony G had the ability to play in high stakes games. That was in 2000 and over the last few years, Tony G developed into one of the most successful online poker players of all time. He also decided to branch out into other ventures and started several poker related websites.

Tony G played in his first live tournament in late 2001. He started out with a bang after he took second place at the inaugural European World Series of Poker (EWSOP). He was eliminated from the tournament when his Q-Q lost to Q-5. His opponent caught running 5s for trips and sent Tony G home in second place.

In 2002, Tony G won the World Heads Up Omaha Championship after beating Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott for the victory. In 2003, Tony G made ten final tables despite a limited schedule due to his other business obligations. He made the final table at the World Poker Tour’s stop at the Aviation Club in Paris, France. Ton G took 5th place at the event that was won by Christer Johansson from Sweden. Also in 2003, Tony G had consecutive wins at the White Nights festival in St Petersburg Russia. He ended the year on a positive note making two final tables at the Bellagio Five Diamond Poker Classic in Las Vegas, while placing third in the Omaha championship event.

At the WPT Mirage event in 2004, Tony G was the bubble boy after coming in seventh place. He missed another final TV table by one place. He took second at the Grand Prix de Paris at the Aviation Club in Paris. He lost to Surinder Sunar heads up and his final table featured some of the best players in Europe such as Peter Roche, Ben Roberts, and Dave Colclough. In August of 2005, Tony G won the European Championship in London, England. Most recently, Tony G won a WPT event after he won the Bad Boys II event in Los Angeles. He beat Mike Matusow heads up for the victory at a difficult final table that included Phil Hellmuth, Mike Matusow, Gus Hansen, Jean Robert Bellande, and Men “The Master” Nguyen.

Tony G has his own website at www.tonygpoker.com where he publishes his thoughts on poker and life on the circuit. That’s where you’ll probably find him, on the tournament trail.

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