Just about every fan of televised poker during the boom years are familiar with Antanas Guoga – better known as Tony G. The brash Lithuanian’s table talk and legendary rivalries with Phil Hellmuth and Ralph Perry was polarizing among the poker community – you either loved him or hated him, never somewhere in the middle.
He returned to poker to play the 2017 Super High Roller Bowl and realized he hadn’t skipped a beat. “Well I came back and won a little tournament – a little $25K buy-in. I anted up and that gave me my buy-in, so I sort of satellited into this one and I hope I can keep it going for a few more hours.”
Guoga was an early influencer in the poker world as the owner of PokerNews under iBus Media, which operated a couple of companies. He left poker for the world of politics in 2014 and won an election to European Parliament.
His high roller win didn’t come as a surprise because he truly loves to play the game. “I’m an amateur and always was – I’m not one of those great players but I really enjoy the game,” he said. “I just try to have fun and play the best that I can. Somehow I’ve been playing with the best cash game players in the world, which has me keeping off the streets, which is a positive.”
Guoga finds similarities between poker and politics, which keeps him sharp. “They’re both very complex – you try to get someone successful in poker and politics it’s very, very difficult. But it’s so much fun, I enjoy the most challenging things in life.”
Tony G. explaining a point at the table. (Photo: Poker Central)
“This is a challenge to come back from politics and still be in politics,” he added. “I could get into a lot of strife if I make the final table because I’ll miss a Planner’s Session, so I’m in a no-win situation.”
It’s a problem Guoga wouldn’t mind having, as he’s a poker player to the core. But what makes a poker player a good politician?
“Just my personality – having no fear, trying to have fun in life and trying to say the truth,” said Guoga. “Obviously, no corruption – I’m incorruptible. That’s fun for me – no one can buy me, no one can offer me money. I enjoy that, it’s fun for me.”
His future in politics in uncertain, “It’s probably going to be a one term thing for me. I was elected as one of the top 28 politicians in Europe as a poker player by a political magazine in my second year as a politician. I think I did a good job. I really worked hard the first few years and now I’m taking it a bit easier. I don’t know if I’m in for the long haul.”
“I was really focused and had to win a tough campaign. I had to win, you know, I wasn’t put in – nobody wanted me in, everyone was against me. Just like in poker, everyone is against you,” he said. “A lot of people hate you, a lot of people doubt you and a lot of people are looking to take your job away. In that sense, it’s a challenge and you need a hardened commitment to it.”