Monday, January 03, 2011

A Farce, A Tragedy: Tony G in the SuperStar Showdown

Tony GWas there on the virtual rail with a lot of others last night for that second PokerStars SuperStar Showdown, this one pitting Tony Guoga, a.k.a. “Tony G,” against the secretive Swede, Isildur1.

Knew this one would likely provide a bit more drama than did the first Showdown between Isildur1 and Isaac Haxton. Not only was the colorful and often melodramatic Tony G involved, but he and Isildur1 apparently have some sort of personal relationship as well.

Tony G has spoken out frequently about Isildur1 since he first came on the scene in late 2009. In fact, early on, Tony G eagerly identified him as Viktor Blom, although later would become more equivocal about the matter. Also recall how back last spring Tony G was prepared to provide partial backing for the international man of mystery to play in the PartyPoker IV Big Game. Other arrangements had been made, too, including talk of allowing Isildur1 to play while wearing a mask (no shinola), but the Swede backed out at the last minute.

Also was curious to see some pot-limit Omaha this time, as the combatants were slated to play two tables of PLO along with two tables of no-limit hold’em, spreading out their 2,500 hands evenly across all four tables.

The match ended up lasting nearly nine hours -- about twice the length of the first Showdown -- with Isildur1 finally coming out on top by $44,820. Lots of crazy swings throughout, with Tony G taking an early lead of nearly $70,000 during the first third of the match, then sinking fast during the middle act to fall behind more than $77,000.

The pair were close to even coming down the stretch, with Isildur1 clinging to a lead of less than $10,000. As the final hands played out, Tony G valiantly began pushing all in frequently on the last remaining no-limit hold’em table, clawing back a bit before finally running into Isildur1’s pocket kings to ensure he’d be ending the match in the red.

For complete details of the match, check out Change100’s recap on the PokerStars blog. Michael “merchdawg” Reed also followed the proceedings, tweeting frequently, and wrote up the sucker as well over at Part Time Poker.

Adding considerably to the interest (and entertainment) last night were Tony G’s frequent contributions to the chat box. As you might imagine, he was quite boisterous early on when leading the match, frequently questioning (perhaps with tongue in cheek) Isildur1’s abilities in an obvious attempt to provoke.

When things started going against the G, the Lithuanian unsurprisingly grew quiet. Then, as the last couple of hundred hands played out, he became a bit petulant about the Showdown format (again, see Change100’s recap for details). Finally, when it became obvious he was not going to be able to come back Tony G launched into a kind of maudlin-sounding, dramatic monologue in which he admitted defeat.

Tony G: well done isildur
Tony G: ure a legend
Tony G: people want to watch you
Tony G: yu defeated me fair and square

As the concession speech continued, a number of PokerStars Team Pros had gathered on the rail -- including David Williams, Daniel “KidPoker” Negreanu, Lex Veldhuis, Jose “Nacho” Barbero, and Arnaud Mattern -- congratulating both players for their efforts.

That’s when Tony G -- a sponsored pro over at PartyPoker -- made what I thought was an interesting observation.

Tony G: you boys a big players
Tony G: I go back to home gorund
Tony G: my site that i play on after this
Tony G: was nice to be away
Tony G: and I think everyone should have a chance to play away
Tony G: every nw and again
Tony G: n matter where you pro at

Phil Gordon (of Full Tilt Poker) made a similar point on “This Week in Poker” a couple of months ago when he stated how he disliked the fact that pros from differing sites weren’t able to compete against one another on many of the televised shows. (Wrote about this a little at the time in a post titled “TWiP notes.”)

Fans of poker would surely agree that the segregation of big name pros onto different sites ain’t necessarily to be preferred, although I kind of doubt we’ll see any changes along those lines any time soon. Who knows, though? Perhaps this SuperStar Showdown might encourage some occasional border crossing such as Tony G is suggesting.

Tony G then quickly slipped back into his soliloquy of surrender:

Tony G: isildur1 is hte legend
Tony G: well done your of many so be strong isildur
Tony G: people love you
Tony G: and you are all class
Tony G: i am outcalssed
KidPoker [TeamPro]: Tony how do you think Hellmuth would do vs Isildur?
L. Veldhuis [TeamPro]: looool

Tony G: no idea
Tony G: he has many bracels
Tony G: I have n\one
Tony G: he must do better
Tony G: I am an ordinary player I feel anyone can play like me
Tony G: just pretend to have sme ability
Tony G: but I have HART
Tony G: and I am "qualified"
Tony G: i been playing from day 1
Tony G: with erik123
Tony G: so not many of us old elephans left
Tony G: you guys are all so much better
Tony G: much higher class
Tony G: much higher class

I suppose the typos could be said to add further pathos. By “HART” Tony G meant heart, of course. And by “elephans” elephants, although I think he really meant dinosaurs, identifying himself as an “old school” type while interestingly adding that he perhaps doesn’t even consider himself a serious pro but rather a somewhat glorified “ordinary” player distinguished mainly by his courage.

In a weird way, that elephant reference made me think momentarily of George Orwell’s famous essay “Shooting an Elephant.” After evoking some sympathy for the beast with references to its “distracted grandmotherly air,” Orwell then describes in detail what happened when he finally shoots the elephant. “He looked suddenly stricken, shrunken, immensely old,” motionless for a few moments before “he sagged flabbily to his knees.”

Since the young Orwell botches the shooting miserably, it takes a long, long time for the elephant finally to die. Sort of like Tony G, whose frequent breaks -- and final speech -- had helped make the match go on much longer than anticipated.

The speech continued unabated, even after Isildur1 finally piped up to say “Gg, nice playing with u... u really did have heart... so close”:

Tony G: all over
Tony G: I have been humilated
Tony G: well done
Tony G: let me go and look for my bike
Tony G: BIKE time
Tony G: was fun
Tony G: well wrth it all
Tony G: let me go fr my big walk
Tony G: and see you all on my blog
Tony G: i desrve to walk for 30miles today

End scene. Leave it to the G to build a heads-up online poker match -- a “FARSE,” as he complainingly called it earlier -- into a full-fledged tragedy. He lost, but even in defeat he was still at work, building further on that “larger than life” image.

Actually, I do remember him at one point saying he wasn’t “god enough” to win.

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Blogger change100 said...

FARSE is the JOPKE of 2011.

1/03/2011 11:28 AM  

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