This past Saturday, February 25th, for the second year in a row, the World Poker Tour hosted a six-player invitational event, The Bad Boys of Poker. The first - and only - prize was a $25,500 seat into the season finale WPT World Championship, along with a Bad Boys trophy. The six pros contending for the prize were Jean-Robert Bellande, Tony G, Gus Hansen, Phil Hellmuth, Mike Matusow, and Men "The Master" Nguyen.
The event was won by Tony G, a colorful and entertaining player who grew up in Melbourne, Australia but originally hails from Lithuania. Tony has achieved great success both as a tournament player and in regular cash games, which bring him a healthy income. He won the European Poker Championship in August 2005, and the WPT Grand Prix De Paris at the Aviation Club the summer before. More recently, he made the final table in the Monte Carlo Millions, finishing eighth, in addition to many other final table appearances. In honor of a recent trip promoting poker in Japan, Tony wore an elegant black and grey kimono during the Bad Boys event.
According to more than one observer, Tony’s palaver at the tournament rivaled, and even outstripped that of fellow bad boy and smack-talker Mike Matusow. Matusow, who took second place in the event, responded in a rousing affirmative to host Mike Sexton’s query as to whether Tony could out-talk him. (His exact words: “Oh, hell yeah!”)
Players started with $250,000 in chips, and blinds of $3,000-$6,000, with a $1,000 ante. The action was fast and furious, lasting only three hours.
First, Tony took out Gus Hansen, when the latter’s Ace-high failed to improve against Tony’s two pair (Kings and sevens) on the turn. Two rounds later, he eliminated Men the Master, when Tony’s pocket Queens held up against Men’s AK. Two hands after that, Tony busted out Jean-Robert Bellande when his Queen-high straight beat Bellande’s Jack-high straight.
On the very next hand, Hellmuth was eliminated when his all-in with Qs-5s met up with Matusow’s Qc-Tc. Hellmuth was the only player Tony did not eliminate.
Tony and Mike played only a few hands before their final confrontation, which Tony won handily, with 10d-8d against Matusow’s pocket Kings. Tony flopped two pair, but Mike had several outs on a flop of 10s-8s-2h - two more spades would give him a King-high flush, and another deuce would have given him Kings-up. But the turn and river brought no help. Tony later described the 10d-8d as “a mystic hand for me.”