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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Interviews

Tony G Talks with PokerWorks About the PokerStars The Big Game

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For those viewers who watch the variety of American-based televised cash games out there, you may not be that familiar with Tony G , the trash-talking, action-seeking Australian Internet media mogul and pro player who was a central figure in most of the big hands on The Big Game in its premier week.  In addition, his constant needling of Phil Hellmuth throughout the week added both a comic and dramatic edge to the game that greatly increased its entertainment value.  Through the wonders of Skype, I was able to spend a few minutes chatting with him about his appearance on the show, while he watched a World Cup match on television in London.   As expected, he didn’t pull many punches with his answers to the questions posed.  Here’s what he had to say:

PokerWorks: It was clear that a lot of your attention was focused on Phil Hellmuth.  When did that rivalry begin?

Tony G:
  I think it began during a WSOP event a few years ago, then more in London on tv shows like The Premier League, and it continued this week.

Poker Works: Why do you think Hellmuth’s cash game is so bad?

Tony G:
I think he plays too many pots in bad positions.  He is not aware of situations that well and puts himself in bad situations, plus he keeps his stack size so small that he can’t afford to play as many pots as he does.  It all adds up to bad strategy math-wise.  

PokerWorks: Compared to other times we’ve seen him on tv, he seemed to be playing a lot more pots on this show.  Did you feel it was because you and Daniel Negreanu got under his skin?

Tony G:
Yes, for sure, I think that made an impact.  He was tilted up for sure.

PokerWorks:  At least he didn’t blow up, although I think that would have been more fun.

Tony G: 
Yep, it was fun to have him there.  Better than people like Todd Brunson, who come and play very few hands and have no personality.  They have to be selecting people who want to play, and have fun.

PokerWorks:  On the hand where you busted Hellmuth, he was ahead until the river, and you sold him insurance for the last card, before you hit your ace to beat him ( Note: Hellmuth had pocket nines, and Tony G. had A-K).  It wasn’t clear in the editing how much you owed him.

Tony G: 
He got back $66,500 at the end of the night.

PokerWorks:  Which was more than he lost in the hand, yes?

Tony G:
Yes, but I was a big favorite to lose the hand at that point.  He paid a 10% premium, but it turned out to be a bad bet for me.  The full pot was over $100,000, so it was still the best result for me given the circumstance.

PokerWorks:  Did you feel your focus on Hellmuth this week affected the way you played against Laak?

Tony G:
  Yes, it may have.  I was focused on Hellmuth, so my game was not great against the other players.

PokerWorks: What was your approach to the big hand with Daniel when he rivered you? (Note: Negreanu flopped two pair with Q-J, Tony turned a Broadway straight with A-K, and Negreanu caught another queen on the river for a full house, and Tony paid off Negreanu’s big river bet).

Tony G:
Same as ever.  I don’t think I changed much.  I play lots of pots with a deep stack, which makes it hard to play against me if you can’t read what I have.  With Daniel, I might get his whole stack on a blank, so it was really sick.

PokerWorks:  He had no idea you had the A-K.

Tony G: 
He was very lucky to get the four-outer.  I feel I would have won the whole stack.  I set it up well, but it did not work out.  But, that is the game.  You have to keep playing the same game.  You can’t control the cards.  If I won that hand, for sure I get on a big roll and run over the top of the game, so it put me back.  I just could not get one good river for the whole event.

PokerWorks:  Phil Laak was the big winner on the show.  What did you think of his overall play?

Tony G:
  Laak was very tight, and his cards held up.  Right now, he is the player I least like to see sitting at a table with me, because he is in control and hard to beat.  He keeps the pot size down if it doesn’t suit him.

PokerWorks:  Do you think the slightly different structure of The Big Game works well on its own, or was the success of the show due entirely to the mix of players?

Tony G:
  The mix is critical.  You need to have the players that play pots, and take chances and have fun.  They need to get Sammy Farha on there.

PokerWorks:  Was it hard to take advantage of the Loose Cannon (the amateur player staked by Poker Stars) since Daniel was raising him every time he played?

Tony G: 
Not really.  I actually wanted him to win.  I was very happy he did well.

PokerWorks:  One final question:  You’ve left the WSOP, and are in London now.  Are you going to come back to play the Main Event?

Tony G: 
I may play the Main Event.  The weather in Europe is very nice right now.  There is no real reason to play the Main Event.  I don’t need the money.

PokerWorks:  Thanks for your time.  Enjoy London!

*photo courtesy:  Tom Donohoe/PokerStars.net*

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