Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.
There aren’t too many people in the world, let alone the poker world, who are known primarily by their nickname. If I titled this story “Where Are They Now – Antanas Guoga” it might have taken you a little bit to realize just who I was talking about. Since we started with “Tony G” you know exactly who I’m talking about. The sometimes brash, but always generous Tony G has been on the tournament circuit since 2002. He has played tournament poker seemingly non-stop; hopping from continent to continent on his way to another big score. That’s not to mention the fact that he is also a successful cash game player and a businessman, building an internet empire of poker and other sites that are not related to gaming. Tony’s primary focus is PokerNews.com, ChipMeUp, TonyG Poker, and PokerWorks.com but he is always devloping and searching for a new enterprise.
Antanas Guoga was born in Kaunas, Lithuania on December 17, 1973 and from a very early age showed a competitive nature that has since translated to a successful career at the poker table. At the age of nine Guoga was entered into a Rubik’s Cube challenge to determine who could finish the puzzle the fastest. Guoga won the event, becoming the Rubik’s Cube champion of Lithuania. At the age of 11 his family moved to Melbourne, Australia, where his competitive spirit developed even more. Guoga also enjoyed playing chess on a very high level, competing in local tournaments throughout his childhood. True destiny called when he was 15 and was introduced to the game of poker by some friends. In short order he realized he could make a lot of money from the game, and by the time he was 18 he was ready to test his skill against seasoned players in casinos.
Guoga began frequenting the Australian casinos with mixed results. Not happy with his progression, or his bankroll, Guoga moved to Hong Kong to get a job dealing blackjack to make some money. While in Hong Kong he also improved his poker play, and when he returned to Australia, he started making good money at cash games. Guoga also began traveling around Europe looking for cash games anywhere, and during this time he has stated he was making around $7500 a month. Naturally, the next stop on Guoga’s list of places to test his poker skill was Las Vegas.
At only 20, Guoga had to use a fake I.D. to enter casinos in Vegas. It also didn’t help that he has a very natural youthful appearance to begin with. Learning to play poker in Vegas was a hard experience for Guoga at first as he felt he was treated unfairly by others for looking like a kid, when in a sense he was. Guoga had to grow a thick skin and take it all, or start giving it back. He started giving it back, starting the process that has earned him the reputation as one of the more vocal and brash poker players in the game today. Also at this time, he began going by the first name “Tony,” as it was easier for his American counterparts to understand. So when he would give his name to the poker room manager to be put on the waiting list for a game, the manager would write “Tony G.”
After a slow start at the Vegas cash game, Tony G made the necessary adjustments and began winning at that game, much as he eventually learned to do in Australia. Now his earnings were closer to $10,000 a month. Tony G continued to travel the world looking for the best poker games possible, but 2002 introduced tournaments to him, as it did many others during the start of the “poker boom.” Unlike many others though, Tony G has proven to be a winner on the circuit from almost the start.
Since 2002, Tony G has played dozens of tournaments a year - across the world. For the first two years of his romp around the world he made the final table of a number of smaller tournaments. The very first tournament he ever placed in, he won, winning the $200 7 Card Stud tournament in Austria for $6,491. This seemingly gave him the confidence he needed to succeed, winning at least five figures five times. Tony G also won tournaments on back to back days in Russia for nearly $20,000, a feat almost unheard of. Tournaments and prize money would soon get a lot bigger for Tony G.
In April of 2004 Tony G got his first taste of the World Series of Poker, finishing in the money of two tournaments. Two months later, on the World Poker Tour, he nearly won his first major title, finishing second to Surinder Sunar in the Grand Prix de Paris. The $414,478 second place prize money was of course nice, but Tony G wanted more. Just one week later Tony G had another chance at a WPT title, finishing 7th at the Mirage Poker Showdown, another remarkable accomplishment, making two final tables on separate continents in a week’s time.
In August of 2005, Tony G won his first major title, taking down the European Poker Championship in London, winning $456,822. By this time Tony G had earned the reputation of being along the lines of Mike Matusow and Phil Hellmuth when it came to talking at a poker table. That’s why he was invited to the WPT’s Bad Boy of Poker II special event with Matusow, Hellmuth, Jean-Robert Bellande, Men “The Master” Nquyen, and Gus Hansen. Tony G went on to beat Mike Matusow heads up for the title of “Bad Boy of Poker.”
Tony G has been unfairly criticized by some as being both brash at and away from the table, which simply isn’t true. Scores of people, including dealers and his peers, have said that away from the table Tony G is one of the more generous players in the game. Many examples have come up over the last few years showing Tony G’s generosity. In 2006 he donated half of his winnings in an Asian Poker Tour event, totaling over $225,000, to children’s charities. He left all the prize money of a tournament win in Russia, a total of $205,000, at the casino, asking them to donate it to the charity of their choice. In 2008 he was given the Shining World Leadership Award in Melbourne, Australia for his contributions and efforts working with children’s charities the world over.
Tony G is also known for some of his crazy bets and fun loving attitude, not only does he enjoy the game of poker, he enjoys the game of life. Check out his blog for some videos of how he spends his time away from the tables.