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On the Grind: Tony G in the Poker Doldrums
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) isn't a sprint race but a marathon. Six straight weeks of long days and late nights spent sitting in the vast windowless expanse of the Amazon Room, bathed in artificial light and subjected to hour upon hour of pressure-packed poker with the best in the world can create an exhausting and stressful environment for even the toughest professionals, and it's starting to show. The long-awaited $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. tournament has come and gone, creating a sort of "poker doldrums" as most of the poker world waits for the Main Event, and professionals start to feel the pressure as the end of their most productive working season suddenly seems much closer. I caught up with poker professional Antanas "Tony G" Guoga after the $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em tournament, and he talked about the demoralizing affect this endurance race of a World Series can have.
How did you play today?
I played pretty good until the last hand. I called all of my chips off with pocket fives and didn't win. I had built up a stack of about seven thousand something, but I've just been making some mistakes, I guess. I don't know what it is. I guess I could have been playing better.
How have you felt about your play overall?
I've been feeling good the last few days, you know. I've kind of had enough now. It's just been hard to come here from day one and play.
Have you played in most of the events so far?
Yeah, I've played in everything from day one. I mean, sometimes I make Day 2 of something and I miss a tournament, but I've played a lot of the events. I've cashed five times, made several dinner breaks but just been playing so much I'm needing a bit of a break. I've played good every now and again but I've also made some mistakes. I'm not enjoying myself, that's for sure.
Are you going to take a break before the Main Event?
I don't know. Probably not, to be honest. I made a promise to play all of the events, so I'll probably stand by that. I'd like to stick to that.
How does the 2006 World Series compare to other tournaments you've played in the past?
Very slow, grinding, big fields. Not much fun here.
How do you prepare for tournaments like this?
I don't prepare. I just come and play. I like to enjoy it, but some of the non-WSOP tournaments that last five hours are much more fun than these tournaments, where you have to play for days and days. It's not fun here, I don't think.
Do you think that's a flaw in the structure of the World Series?
Nah, I don't know. Some people love it. I don't know how normal people can play six weeks straight - I mean, I did it once in my life, the first time I played here. I don't know that I'll come again and play six weeks; I don't think it's worth it. I'm not going to get much out of it.
Do you feel like the World Series has maybe become too crowded to be viable?
No, it's probably going to be viable. It's America; they like to mass-market. I mean, build a big supermarket or whatever and lots of people in it, everyone will come. Why not? They love it here. More money, more buy-ins, big fields - that's what people want, you know. You buy in for $500, they can take $200 out and everyone's happy. That's what the market wants.
What did you make of the H.O.R.S.E. tournament?
I busted out early on, about ten players on. I could have done a lot better there. It was quite the fun event, and you're always close to making the final table. So it was a good event. I like those big events; I enjoy them. I think I'll enjoy the Deuce-to-Seven Lowball tournament. I'll enjoy that one, and the rest - it's a grind. I wish I went home today. But I was in today's event until I busted out.
Do you feel like the H.O.R.S.E. event will ever upstage the Main Event in terms of popularity or prestige?
No, never. The H.O.R.S.E. event might not even be there in the future. First time event. The Main Event's the Main Event, you know. That's the one you've got to win. The odds of winning that one are a dream right now, though.