4 Things Tony G. Has 100% Actually Said

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.
Conclusion

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.

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BitCoin Poker – Is It Really a Thing?

It’s strange for an old-school guy like me to think that a virtual currency is being used to play poker.

I’m used to using what I’d consider traditional payment methods to fund my own action – cash, credit cards, and eWallets. A few months ago, I couldn’t have told you what BitCoin is if you’d sat down and patiently explained it to me for an hour first.

BitCoin poker is, really, a thing. A few poker rooms and other gambling sites are now accepting BitCoin as a payment method.

So what is it? And how is it being used to fund online poker accounts?
What Is BitCoin?

Bitcoin is a virtual currency invented in the year 2008 by a person going by the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto.” The first mention of the currency was in a document sent to a cryptography mailing list made up of just a few people. Not much is known about the person (or people) behind the pseudonym, and they left the project altogether in 2010.

It’s interesting that the project was first mentioned among a small group of cryptographers – BitCoin was invented to exist without the need for a financial middle man. Taking banks and fragile world governments out of the equation produces a more stable and equitable currency, and it means that BTC (the currency’s acronym) are immune from seizure or asset freezing. Or so the theory goes.

So what is a BitCoin? You can’t hold one in your hand, in the traditional sense. It exists in the same way that an email exists – stored in a digital cloud. One important thing to note, for those of us used to fiat money, there is no FDIC or other insurance for your BTC.
Why Use BitCoin?

Here are some popular reasons suggested by blogs and message board posts:

BTC is crypto-currency, which means using it is completely private and anonymous.
Yes, transactions are recorded in a public log, for accountability purposes, but names of people involved in transactions are kept secret, hidden behind a generic wallet ID. There’s a dark side to this – goods can be bought or sold online and authorities can’t easily trace the people involved. That means lots of people are participating in illicit activity (see the story of The Silk Road for a perfect example) using this currency.

BTC allows you total control of your money.
Its value can’t be manipulated by any outside entity. Essentially, using BTC turns you into your own bank. The currency’s lack of physical production costs and non-existent need for storage makes it even easier to handle at the end-user level.

Big companies are bringing it into the mainstream.
BTC wasn’t well known until 2011, when the mainstream press got word of its early and rabid adoption by the Technorati. Now, thousands of businesses all over the world accept it as a mainstream payment method, including some surprisingly big names. You can buy your next Dell laptop with BTC, or shop for a cheaper alternative at Overstock.com. Cities saturated with tech geeks now have ATMs where you can exchange cash for BTC, and the other way around.
How Does BitCoin Poker Work?

The reason BitCoin struck me as so strange initially was simple – I am used to traditional (known as “fiat”) currency. So is everyone reading this – it’s what we’re used to, so any alternative feels a little strange.

The first thing a poker player who wants to use BTC needs to do is exchange their native currency for their new virtual currency.

The popular method of purchasing BitCoin is to deal with an exchange or brokerage. Exchanges are places where buyers and sellers are matched based on their bid criteria, while brokerages hoard large collections of BTC that they sell on-demand at a variable rate.

Exchanges and brokerages are pretty much identical for the end-user. It literally takes a minute or two to complete the transaction.

The BTC are then transferred to you through your unique Bitcoin wallet ID. Think of it as a hyper-focused email address for virtual currency. What’s neat about that is you can send money to anyone in the world using BTC, the same way you can send an email across the globe in a second.

Your wallet ID (BTC address) will be a randomized string of letters and numbers, anywhere from 27–34 characters long. That wallet ID is also the place buyers will send cash – which makes the whole email address analogy easier to understand. BitCoins can be sent or received from anywhere, or even sold among friends or in person.

Now that you’ve got your currency in your virtual wallet, it’s time to transfer it to the poker room of your choice. After confirming that the room you want to play at accepts BitCoin, simply send the appropriate amount to their wallet ID. It takes anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours for the BTC to appear in the receiving account.

As an added bonus for poker players, transferring with BTC is totally free, thanks to the virtual nature of the currency. It costs nothing to send and receive virtual money, so you shouldn’t expect any additional transfer fees from your poker room’s cashier department.

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Why I Love American Roulette

I bet you won’t agree with me when I say this – I love American roulette.

When I go on a casino trip, I head immediately for double-zero roulette games.

I’ve long been a defender of this casino classic.

After all, I’m an American.

So what is it about double-zero roulette that gets me excited?

First – an explanation of the main difference between American and European game rules.
American vs. European Roulette

The most important difference between American and European rules roulette is the number of spaces in the wheel where the ball might land. American wheels have 38 slots (1-36 plus one green zero and one green double-zero space) and European wheels have 37 slots (1-36 plus one green zero space).

The impact this extra space has on the American game’s odds is pretty significant. All wagers on American roulette games have a 5.26% house edge – while all wagers on single-zero games have a 2.7% house edge. The house edge on the American game is almost double that for single-zero or European tables.

But wait – I haven’t told you the whole story yet. True European roulette games include a special rule that reduces the house’s edge even more in certain game situations. At Euro tables, if the ball lands in the green zero space, bettors get half their wager back. With that rule in place, all even-money bets have a house edge of just 1.3%. Those are excellent odds by anyone’s definition, right?

So why do I love American roulette so much?
It’s Accessible

Only seven Las Vegas casinos host a single-zero roulette game. The Palazzo and the Venetian are the only two that host true American rules roulette – the other five have one European rules table each.

If you don’t do your gambling in Las Vegas, rest assured that your Euro game options are limited, too. The few Atlantic City casinos still in business aren’t eager to hand out money with low-odds games taking up floor space – I don’t know a single AC casino offering single-zero tables outside of a VIP room. You won’t find any single-zero tables in any property in Mississippi or Louisiana that’s run by one of the major operators like Harrah’s. Basically, if you’re in America, American rules games are by far the most common and the most budget-friendly. You may not even have the option of playing single-zero games, especially if you aren’t a high roller.
It’s Familiar

Because I’ve lived my entire life in the United States, I’ve only ever really known or played the single-zero game. I remember getting a casino play-set when I was a kid (with playing cards, a plastic roulette wheel, a ball bearing, some poker chips, and a set of dice), and sure enough, that game’s wheel was set up in imitation of good old USA rules.

I admit – the rules of European roulette are a lot better for the player. The “en prison” rule (the one that will pay you back half your even-money wager on a zero result) is so popular that a few casinos in America adapted it for use on double-zero wheels. Unfortunately, that game never caught on, probably because it cut the house’s edge from 5.26% to 2.63%. I also appreciate that the stupid “five numbers” bet isn’t available on single zero tables – I think that’s a terrible move by the casino to cheat ignorant people out of their money, and I wish it wasn’t available in American games.

But it all comes down to familiarity, for me. When I play the game, I expect a wheel with two green zero spaces. I don’t expect to get half my wager back thanks to “imprisonment rules.” I grew up risking way more of money than you can risk on European tables, and it’s just not familiar to me.
It’s Affordable

If single-zero roulette offers way better odds, why shouldn’t I just stick to those seven casinos when I visit Vegas? Because the vast majority of those single-zero games are in the VIP rooms, with $100 bet minimums. The most affordable single-zero games in town are at the Mirage, and the MGM Grand, where you can play on a single-zero table for a $25 minimum bet.

Most of the American-style roulette games in Las Vegas allow me to bet $5 or $10 per spin. Basically, I can’t afford to play singe-zero roulette. I’m used to seeing about one outcome per minute at a full Las Vegas table – if I wanted to step up to the VIP games, I’d be betting my mortgage four times over each hour. That’s not the kind of action that I (or my wife) can live with. Heck, it’s expensive enough at $600 an hour.

Atlantic City casinos hosted single-zero games years before Las Vegas did – at a time when Atlantic City gambling houses were playgrounds for the well-to-do. In America, European-anything is code for elite and uppity, and that seems to be the case with this European import. Though I consider myself an intellectual, someone able to overcome the trappings of his cultural heritage, I still can’t help but see the double-zero game as comfortable and familiar.
Conclusion

How little do casinos want Americans to play on single-zero wheels? It’s common for online casinos to restrict bets on Euro roulette from counting towards bonus requirements or loyalty points. The tables are practically gone from US casino floors. When you can find them, they’re restricted by high betting minimums or by requiring special permission to enter the VIP room where the games are kept. For all those reasons, I much prefer to play American-rules roulette games. I’m hoping that, after reading this, a few of you will feel the same way, and give the game a second chance.

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