Born Antanas Guoga, Tony G. is a businessman and politician better known for his career as a professional poker player. More to the point, Tony G. is known as the ultimate trash-talker.
For a man named after the patron saint of the poor, Mr. Guoga has a reputation as something of a loudmouth. If you watch him at the table, though, you’ll see the wisdom of his method. He genuinely gets in other player’s head and forces them to make terrible plays. It doesn’t have to work more than once in a blue moon for it to be a valuable tool, and he’s an expert at it.
Tony G. is now an elected member of the European Parliament, which is the governing body of the European Union. He’s married to a very attractive Lithuanian model. He runs TonyBet, and some people refer to him as a philanthropist.
Those labels are a far cry from the Tony we know and love. Refurbished reputation or not, the man can make me laugh like nobody else in the poker business, and he’s right on the money most of the time. His ability to put other pros on tilt and drain them of money is second to none.
Here are seven things that you may find it hard to believe that Tony G. has actually said. I promise that every one of them is 100% true.
“We are all winners here.”
During a Big Game TV event in 2010, Tony and Phil Hellmuth clashed early and often. To be more accurate, Tony clashed with everyone at the table – Phil just happened to go head to head with him more times than the rest of the table.
It started when he felted Hellmuth after conning Phil to go all-in with A-9 unsuited. He dropped the famous bomb: “Phil, you’re a winner, you have so many accomplishments. We are all winners here.” The sarcasm dripping from his voice could choke a horse. Phil sat there and took it, waiting for the right lull in Tony’s madness to make a decent exit. But Tony didn’t let up just yet.
He went on to tell 14-time WSOP champion Hellmuth that perhaps “… holdem cash games aren’t your forte.” Phil didn’t stick around for long after that. Can you blame him?
“Bring more Russians on!”
As one correspondent said immediately after this outburst – Tony G. can single-handedly reignite the Cold War.
During the 2006 Intercontinental Poker Championships, with Guoga representing Australia at the final table, things had already gotten a little testy. The other four guys left were seated at the far end of the table, with Tony relegated to a seat all by his lonesome. Guoga was head to head against Rick Perry and basically just bullied him into calling all-in with unsuited King-Jack. In retrospect, Guoga’s pair of 2’s wasn’t exactly a world-beater, either. In true Tony G. fashion, upon beating Perry by the slimmest of margins, he lambasted him for making such a weak move.
First he yelled the now infamous lines: “Is this how you play? You call with King-Jack? What school you went to?” He was stomping around the back of the table, pointing at Perry’s cards, and making a total scene. That’s when he decided he’d be happy to play more Russians, if this was the quality he could expect from them. Then came the infamous line: “Bring more Russians on!”
It didn’t end there – but if you follow Guoga’s career at all, you probably didn’t expect it to. As Perry walked off the stage (way more calmly than could be expected of any mortal man) Tony couldn’t help but dig into him again. A few people in the live audience started to clap for Perry respectfully as he walked off, but Tony G. jumped up and started yelling again: “He doesn’t deserve applause.”
Well, no one will ever accuse Antanas Guoga of accepting victory with grace – not at the table, at least.
“Of course I lied. It’s poker.”
Remember that time Tony tricked Phil Hellmuth into going all-in?
This one came up during season two of the Big Game. After beating up on Hellmuth early, asking him “Where’s your money?” and pointing derisively at Hellmuth’s $28,000 stack, Tony G. just wouldn’t relent. At one point, he raised Phil to $21,600 with Ace-King suited. Phil responded by going all-in, believing that Tony hadn’t looked at his cards. Guoga had him fooled, and as soon as Tony revealed his hand, he uttered that now-famous phrase: “Of course I lied; it’s poker.”
This was one of the first time I saw anyone question Tony’s etiquette, publicly at least. Hellmuth quietly questioned whether it was ethical for Tony to lie about not looking at his hand. But let’s not get too crazy – Phil isn’t exactly Mr. Nice Guy, either.
“I am the greatest!”
Okay, so it’s not exactly an original quote. The difference here is that Tony G. genuinely believes it.
This particular incident came during another season of Big Game, after Guoga went all-in for the fourth time and took it, wiping out two players at the same time. In typical Tony fashion, he leapt up from the table without giving the vanquished opponent a dignified way to leave, and began a rare and odd monologue, mixing shouts with laughter:
“Who can do this in the whole world? There’s no one. Only Tony G can do this. This is the greatest show in the world!” A few moments pass before he goes on to say: “Bring me more of them. Give me a refill! Let me crush them!” His attitude softened, he sat down, and he looked the camera right in the eye and said: “Thanks so much for having me here!”
He continued his rant in a post-game, saying that his opponents “paid me off just like slot machines,” and that he’d had his car pulled around waiting for him before the hand even started.
If you’re not that familiar with Antanas Guoga, this article may make him seem like a total jerk. I think his mouth and his attitude is his single biggest asset in live poker. There are as many examples of him playing poorly and getting wiped out in two or three hands as there are examples of him going head to head and freaking the other player out.
Though Tony G. is now temporarily more concerned with international politics, you can bet he’ll be a part of the poker scene as long as he’s willing. Audiences love him, he’s great television, and (you have to admit) he’s sometimes a heck of a poker player.