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Online Poker: Interview with Tony 'Bond18' Dunst

Talks About Plans for World Series, Prelim Strategies, and How He Got Started


Tony “bond18” Dunst has led an interesting life, to say the least. The 23-year-old poker pro has lived around the world, with stops in Australia, China, Malaysia, Vegas, and Milwaukee. He’s done very well for himself in poker. He has earned more than $181,000 in lifetime Online Player of the Year winnings and is currently a guest instructor for Card Player Pro/PokerSavvy Plus, a poker video training website.

Dunst is also well known in the online poker community for writing strategy articles and for creating humorous “plays” about famous online poker controversies (like one involving Sorel “Imper1um” Mizzi and one featuring Chad “lilholdem954” Batista).

Card Player caught up with Dunst just as the World Series was kicking off. He spoke with us about his beginnings in poker, his plans for the Series, his strategies for playing in World Series events, and the beauty of being a poker pro.

Shawn Patrick Green: So, tell me about yourself away from poker.

Tony “bond18” Dunst: I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and grew up in Madison, then moved to Australia, then got banned from the continent and went to Vegas for a while, then back to Wisconsin for some school, then moved to China for six months, then hung in Malaysia for a while, then Vegas for a couple more months, then back to Australia since around July 2007, where I now have a more permanent visa.

I had five jobs before poker, and they all sucked so horribly f---ing bad that I realized at a young age that I didn’t want to work for anyone else or have people telling me what to do, so I worked my ass off studying gambling and poker so that I wouldn’t have to deal with it again.

I was fired from my last job, and totally deserved to be. I went to college at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, except my one year of study abroad in Australia. I was a theatre major and a fairly terrible student, but I always passed. They tried to get me to do acting courses, but I always refused, because I didn’t want to take the time away from poker.

SPG: So, I need to follow up on a few things, there [Laughs].

TD: Sure.

SPG: First, how and why did you get banned from Australia? Second, how and why did you get fired from your last job to the point that you admit you deserved it?

TD: First, I didn’t read the fine print and ended up overstaying my visa by five months, which has a way of pissing off government types. Second, I was a horrible employee in general who clearly didn’t give a s---, and they had this menu test that was about the most impossible test ever created by man, and I failed it three times. On the third time, they fired me. I mean, I slept through half of the ACT and still scored like a 27 or 28, and this menu test thing was impossible.

SPG: How did you initially get into poker?

TD: I got into it pre-Moneymaker. I started out playing five-card draw with friends out of boredom. Then I saw the 2002 WSOP on TV and got them into hold’em and read books at the book store, which were all horrible in 2002 and made me a huge nit. Then I got online, started playing sit-and-gos, ran $80 into $400 on Paradise, back when they were the biggest site, around December 2002 or something, and I just ran with it from there.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that I didn’t want to do much else with my life. Some people say, “Oh, you don’t wanna just play cards your whole life.” I don’t? How the f--- would you people know? I get to play a game all day, every day, and take any day off I want. What could be better? Last time I got a little burnt out, I took two weeks off and spent all day getting high and playing Call of Duty 4. And you know how many consequences there were? Zero.

People spend their whole lives trying to position themselves in a career with that much flexibility. Even on days when poker is really frustrating, if I just chill out for a moment and think about how sweet an occupation it is, I never really get mad. I haven’t had tilt problems in years.

I mean, I can understand those people who don’t want to spend their whole lives playing cards; it’s not fulfilling for everyone. And I’ve gotten into writing because it gives me something else to do, and I find it fun and entertaining, but I can’t imagine giving up the job and lifestyle that I have.

SPG: Plus, the job you have affords you all the time you could possibly need to write whatever you want and pursue activities that might enrich your life where “just playing cards” might not, am I right?

TD: Exactly, there are no deadlines for me in the game, although I like playing, so I actually play seven days a week. But the writing matches up with the poker very well, since one feeds off of the other. Plus, I get to keep my integrity with the writing, because I don’t need it to pay the bills. Although I don’t feel that’s really been tested yet or anything; my deal with Full Tilt hasn’t asked me to sell my soul, yet. They’ve censored me a couple of times, but I think it was in fairly standard spots.

SPG: Was there a specific poker event or a string of cashes that you remember that gave you the break you needed to go pro, or was it a gradual progression?

TD: Hmm, going pro for me was much more gradual. I tried limit hold’em for a long time up until around 2006. Then I remember a weekend around august 2006 when I won like $17,500 playing tournaments over three days, which was a ton for me at the time, and after that it was all tournaments all the time. And I now realize that limit is the devil and I truly have pity for everyone who still grinds it.

SPG: How did you go from limit hold’em cash games to no-limit hold’em multitable tournaments? Isn’t that a pretty radical transition?

TD: Absolutely it is. The answer is [the poker forums at] TwoPlusTwo; those guys changed everything for me. Back in 2006, I asked the best limit player I knew, who was younger than me and had played less time than me, “How did you get so good so fast?” He said to go read the Two Plus Two forums. It didn’t take that long, although the forums were so very elitist and hard to break into that everyone there knew what they were talking about.

So, I threw myself into it and posted hands and asked questions over and over, and certainly looked like a moron for a time. And I still look like a moron sometimes today. I mean, I just posted a hand yesterday that I played awfully, and it’s borderline embarrassing looking over it again. But you’ll never get better without asking questions and taking the input of those around you.

SPG: You’re a guest instructor for PokerSavvy Plus. Can you talk about your relationship with them and about how you got affiliated with the site?

TD: My friend and fellow mod Justin “jurollo” Rollo asked me if I wanted to be involved, and they offered me money, so I was like “Hell yes.” I was basically doing that s--- for free, writing about poker and putting up hand histories for anyone to see.

SPG: So, you’re saying that all it takes to get you to do something that you do for free for money instead is to ask? That’s a novel approach.

TD: Yeah, basically. Who do you want dead?

SPG: [Laughs] I hear that you’re shacking up with and a few other pros for the World Series? Who are your housemates?

TD: I’m staying with SirWatts [Mike Watson], grafyx, learnedfromtv, Nath [Pizzolatto], and adanthar, basically.

SPG: Wow, a very stellar cast of characters.

TD: It’s a really chill group of older guys who are excellent poker players, and they have to deal with me because I organized it.

SPG: Any prop bet proposals, yet?

TD: Oh God, no. I am the worst f---ing live player ever. I’m like $125,000 in makeup or something. My God, I don’t need to light any more money on fire with prop bets. If someone wanted to prop bet me on how much I lose, then maybe.

SPG: Given how bad of a player you are live, how many events are you planning on playing for this Series?

TD: Thirtyish; but I don’t really know. It was 30 last year, and I don’t take days off; any day when there is nothing worth playing at WSOP, I’ll go to Venetian or Bellagio.

It’s pretty well known I’m backed by Timex [Mike McDonald], so, outside really high-limit events, I basically have free reign on what I play.

SPG: Do you have any advice for people looking to play their first-ever major live event during the World Series this year?

TD: I don’t know. It doesn’t matter, because everyone at the WSOP is really bad. It’s the single greatest collection of donks in poker in the world. Just play good and hope you run good. The fields are huge, and you’ll need things to go smoothly to make a run in anything. The WSOP is the biggest free-money fest of the year, but the variance is huge because field sizes are massive. And most of the prelim structures aren’t great.

SPG: The $1,500 events, for instance, only give 3,000 in starting chips. Venetian runs a daily tournament [before the Series began] for $150 that gives players 7,500 in starting chips, as a comparison.

TD: Exactly. The Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza series is higher buy in than that, though. Most events are $500, and some are actually $1Ks and whatnot, mostly for people with smaller rolls who are still good at poker and aren’t obsessed with the pretentious glory that is having a bracelet. I’d say go play Venetian every day. The structure makes a huge difference, and all the good players will be at WSOP.

SPG: What is your game plan for a tournament like some of the WSOP prelims, with a relatively short starting stack of 2,000-3,000 in chips?

TD: I mean, the structure gets a little better at the mid-levels, but in early stages you just have to make hands; it’s mandatory. However, the bubble in those things is just hilarious; you can get away with murder. Basically, in those things you just abuse people’s risk-aversion and value-bet in obvious ways, because they won’t be thinking players. But at the early stages, you’ll only have a few correct spots to set mines or take a flop with suited connectors before stacks get so short that you don’t have implied odds, anymore. So, making hands is pretty mandatory.

SPG: Basically, you have to tighten way up in many of the WSOP prelim events in the early stages, then?

TD: Not necessarily; you should still take flops with people, because they will play really badly and make huge mistakes post-flop, but you have to be conscious of your stack size and what it allows. Everything — and I mean f---ing everything — in tournaments is dependant on stack size; it is clearly the most important concept. And, for some reason, it is still one concept that many otherwise successful players are awful with.

SPG: In what way are successful players sometimes awful in stack-size situations?

TD: Like, you see guys calling off huge chunks of their stacks preflop with no plan post-flop and guys making atrocious preflop plays. Here’s a great example: when Phil Hellmuth raised and then folded with K-6 offsuit with a 6.5 big-blind stack with 10 players left in a WSOP event. I mean, we all know Phil crushes tournaments, but just think about what he could do if he cleaned up incredibly obvious leaks like that one. Phil is nowhere near the only one; there is just an endless supply of guys who don’t get how important the stack-size thing is.

SPG: So, what about for structures like the main event, then? What’s your game plan there?

TD: Well, in the main event you start so deep that you have a lot of room to destroy bad players. It’s as soft as they come; it’s easily the most +EV [positive expected value] tournament of the year. You have a very deep and slow structure with a sea of novice and recreational players. You should be taking a lot of flops with hands that people will explode into because they over-value certain holdings. They won’t hand-read well.

So, there’s huge potential in suited connectors and gappers, pairs, and so on. But, like in any tournament, you need to watch people at your table and adjust to them.

SPG: What was the one biggest thing you learned about poker that changed your game?

TD: Two things: stack sizes and position. That’s why when I started writing strategy articles those were the first two topics. If you taught someone those two things, and taught them thoroughly, they would be better than a huge percentage of the poker players out there who might have way more experience, assuming the learning player understood the basics like hand rankings, and stuff like that.

SPG: Those are all of the questions I’ve got. Thanks a lot for doing this interview!

TD: No problem.

Tags: poker beat


over 13 years ago

i really enjoyed this article, makes me wanna 'get there' even more