Tony “Bond18” Dunst, 25, is the newest addition to the revamped World Poker Tour production. Using his facility to share his opinion, Tony will host a segment called “The Raw Deal” each show evaluating the play. Tony was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, grew up in Madison, spent the last 5 years predominately in Australia, and currently resides in Las Vegas. He got started in poker playing home games, with friends back in high school which quickly led to online poker and realizing poker was what he wanted to do for a living. He has won well over $1 million in online and live tournaments.
You had a nice deep run in the WSOP Main Event, finishing 50th for $168,556 with some good TV coverage. What was the experience like for you?
I approach it like it's any other tournament, but I could tell as the event went on that the rest of the world very much does not. I suppose the experience was a little surreal and very much like the kind of thing you hope will somebody happen when you're dicking around with your friends at the age of 18 playing home games. I tried to show up every day and make smart, thoughtful decisions and not get caught up with the results. I'm pretty happy with how I went about doing that, though there's certainly hands I would change upon further consideration.
What caused you to move to Australia for several years?
I originally went over there for the Aussie Millions, then went back for school, then went back for a girl that I met, and just stuck around. I would call the time I spent in Australia as the best experience in my life, and although I'm very happy and appreciative of the life I have here now in the US I will always long to return to that country as much as possible. They have a highly comparable culture but it's slightly different in a lot of ways that I think are unique, interesting, and often, an improvement over the way we go about things.
You often see forum threads about young players thinking of moving somewhere exciting like you did, either for travels or for longer stays. Would you have any advice you could offer to players thinking of starting such an adventure?
Just do it. Don't sit there debating over all the little nitty pros and cons, just fucking do it and let the chips fall where they may. I'm 100% sure of this. Find a place to spend time in the destination you've always wanted to visit and look to figure out how you can spend as much time there as is necessary. Careful with those visa things, though, it turns out they expire and countries don't like when you hang around despite that.
You are known to grind a lot of tables for long periods of time. What special skills or abilities allows you to grind so much?
Above all it's just a concentrated work ethic and an appreciation of my job. I had plenty of stupid ass shit jobs in high school and I'm very happy to have the opportunity to grind in the comfort of my own home taking crap from nobody and having what I get out be a direct result of what I put in. In order to do that kind of thing you need to anticipate what your needs are going to be over the course of the day, and in my case that often means cooking ahead of time or ordering a bulk of ready to eat meals. I go through periods where I grind very heavily and have been doing so through the WCOOP, where I've been behind my computer five or six days a week. Additionally, I'm a pretty major live poker grinder, and played 24 events at the series this year and never optionally skipped an event I anticipated being +EV in. From everything I've studied about the way we process our decision making and achieve success, being willing to grind a huge amount of repetition is always crucial to make it happen. I just think about that long term end goal and plug in day after day.
Did you have any key “A-ha” moments during your career where suddenly everything just fell into place and allowed you to really beat up on your opponents?
No, but not so long ago I had an "A-ha" moment where I suddenly realized I kind of sucked at poker and I was going to need to get back to work really hard to fix that if I wanted to beat up on my opponents.
You are pretty connected to the poker community. How have your poker friendships influenced your play and career?
I met the majority of my close poker circle through the forums at 2+2. Many of us have been posting and traveling to tournaments together for years now, and it's like having an international network of buddies with a common interest wherever you go. When they have time available for me, my roommates are willing to sit down and coach me, or I will often watch them play and ask questions between hands about the ones they played prior. I think having other people to bounce ideas off of and check errors is really important to developing anyones play, and getting involved at the forums and posting over the long duration is a great way to do that.
As a player who has been backed at various points of your career, what are your feelings about backing?
Yea, I wrote an entire article on backing which can be read HERE
I was motivated to be backed because I knew live poker had gigantic variance and I didn't want a bad stretch of tournaments to wipe out my bankroll. It seemed like the clearly responsible decision, particularly since I found a deal where I was able to keep the majority of my online action. I've had no issues with strained friendships thus far, and am still close with all previous and current backers. In fact, I'm going on a trip with Watts in Asia in November. The most important aspect in a successful backing arrangement is honest communication. The moment one senses the other is being dishonest you start to have issues. If a horse or backer isn't clear about something, they should ask the other and make sure it's all clarified.
We’ve heard you occasionally enjoy playing 'high'. Responding to a long interview like ours, what is your current “state” while doing this interview?
Hmm, I'm not sure I'd say I'm a fan of it. For a long time I never did it, but when I'm stuck in the house alone and I've already worked out twice that day I often just can't find a reason not to, particularly since it doesn't get me really stoned anymore just to take a couple hits. I'm not sure if it gives an advantage or disadvantage, but I can say that it makes the passage of time easier throughout the course of the day. It most definitely however, causes moments of forgetfulness or absent mindedness, and that can be an issue. I am only slightly stoned currently, and answering this question has left me with a desire to turn that slightly into moderately.
Who in the poker world would really benefit from chilling out a little and smoking the peace pipe?
Do you have any amusing drunken or smoking related poker stories you could share with our readers that they may not have heard before?
Oh man, so many. Most of them are in my blog, and writing one out now would be a blog worthy enterprise, so I won't get into it. There are tons of those kinds of things up though. I didn’t actually wind up drinking that often this summer because I was always in an event and didn’t want to try and play with a hangover.
What has it been like living with Andrew ‘lucky chewy’ Lichtenberger and the other poker players in your house during the WSOP?
I wrote most of the best stuff in my blog, and actually I was out of the house at the WSOP or doing something social so often then I missed out on a lot of the dynamic.
Let's talk about women... we've read many times that you are polyamorous (to quote you here "cause that's just how the Greek's roll")... is this true? Do you think the key to happiness in life is often not to blindly commit to social norms but to think more deeply about specifically what will make you happy as a person?
First and foremost, I would most certainly agree with your last question. I think tons of people function and act in a way without any self analysis and willingness to question their motivations, and wind up living a way that doesn’t even make them happy. I’ve decided to live this way because I’ve found it’s made me way happier than the other and it also just seems so much more realistic. I don’t think it’s something everyone should consider and It would likely cause most people to tear their hair out, but it works for me and seems a lot more healthy than pretending to be monogamous while I lie and mislead everyone around me. Every time I’ve tried to enter a monogamous relationship it feels like a total betrayal of my values and I feel just awful inside, and I wind up losing motivation for a ton of the things that make me who I am. Thus far it’s worked out quite well and I feel much more honest in the relationships I have with women now, but there are still times when you long for a bit of normalcy.
Over the years you have developed a talent for 'pick-up', though you are keen to point out that it is not the somewhat negative techniques outlined in Neil Strauss's popular book 'The Game'. Can you tell us a little about your general approach?
It’s hard to try and summarize it into a more brief answer, but above all I strive to be natural, confident, understanding, fun, and honest. I think a lot of guys have developed this mentality that you need to be an asshole to get girls and I strongly disagree. I do think that assholes often naturally do things right (or do things that get them results) better than really nice guys, but that has more to do with their being confident/cocky/challenging/assertive/dominant than the fact that they treat women/people poorly. I learned it through a combination of study, speaking to other guys that were very good, and practice/trial and error. Everyone who isn’t really naturally smooth/quick witted/comfortable around women starts out pretty bad but over time you just start to see patterns in interactions and with what works/doesn’t work in the way women react to you. The most important lesson I learned was to be honest and congruent, and I’m still learning it all the time because it’s harder than it sounds. Still, at this point it sometimes blows my mind how much I get away with just because I tell the truth about it and how lying about it blows up so many other men.
For all our readers out there who are looking to pick up the girls of their dreams and live a more playboy like lifestyle what advice could you offer to them to help them succeed? People will often say it is just about confidence and being yourself but the Pick Up industry would argue it is a much deeper science than simply those two points... what are your thoughts?
It’s about both. Confidence develops as a result of experience and a fine tuned sense for social nuances. You can’t just flick a switch and become confident, it’s something that has to be developed over time as you invest in yourself and your capabilities. Still, there’s a great degree of detail that goes into pick up, and there’s all kinds of valuable things you can learn through studying the things some of the quality guys have written.
The advice I’d offer guys who want to learn is to read something comprehensive and not weird like Magic Bullets, then go out and start trying immediately. Sitting around reading about talking to girls is about 1/50th as useful as going out and actually talking to girls. And don’t be discouraged or surprised by failure in the beginning, because there’s going to be an absolute ton of it.
Can you share one of your favourite conquest stories with us? Is it still the story of one girl, in Vegas I think, who you role played various roles with all in one day?
The one you’re referring to actually happened in Hawaii. She was a girl that was into a bit of the violent stuff, and during one particularly intense role play got a little carried away and dragged a shard of glass across my shoulder then accidentally cut her own finger, making the whole occasion quite the bloody mess.
Do you think when women hear about your polyamorous lifestyle view you as a greater challenge and that is partly the attraction or is is simply your iresistable charm and muscles, lol. For our female readers out there, what do they need to do to get you to give up your polyamorous life?
Some women are intrigued by it, some are rather turned off. Still, being pre-selected is one of the most consistent attraction switches in women, so that you have enough options that you would never consider a monogamous relationship pretty thoroughly communicates pre-selection. There’s definitely a decent percent of women who think that they would be enough for me or that I haven’t dated a woman of their caliber or that they can entice me to the point that I’d lose interest in all others, but that’s never going to happen. I am what I am and I’m quite content doing it and I can’t imagine changing, though I would like to have a more serious and committed relationship one day, but one that accommodated occasional trysts and affairs.
I have been shot down more times than I can possibly count and I learned an absolute ton from it. No one instance stands out particularly strong and after a while they all blur together. The good thing about getting shot down is that after enough trial and error, you start to get a sense for what’s going wrong and make the necessary adjustments.
Do you have one single approach that tends to work well for you? I know some of our readers are often stumped with even the initial opener or run out of things to say after a few sentences. Do you have any 'go-to' advice you could share with them to help them over these stumbling blocks?
I often go direct, because that’s how I’m comfortable doing things. I think people should be mindful of making conversation more about the other person in it. If I’m chatting up a girl then I don’t want to give too much away about myself until she starts investing and asking for it, and up until that point I’m going to make much of the interaction about her. I’d recommend guys have a long think about what kind of personality aspects and traits they’re looking for in a woman, then use conversation to sort out whether she possesses those qualities and let her know you appreciate them if she does. For example, for full blown dating I look for women that are confident, socially savvy, quick witted, stylish, ambitious, independent, tasteful, sexy, well traveled, open minded, and intelligent. Therefore, I touch on a lot of topics that take conversation towards those topics and aim to see whether we have a lot in common, focusing things more on her interests than mine.
Tell us something surprising about yourself that others might not already know?
I’m a geek at heart. I spent the majority of my adolescence playing video games and getting addicted to Everquest, and spend way more weekends in the gym and home studying than people would think. I like to read.
What is your favorite fun poker phrase/slang/acronym?
Nothing comes to mind honestly.
If the poker industry disappeared completely, what other career would you most like to attempt?
Apparently I have a job in broadcasting these days, so I guess I’d try something down that line, or writing in some capacity.
If you were on death row, what would be your last meal?
I’d eat out.
When your poker career is over, what would you most like to be remembered for?
Being a guy who clearly had a lot of fun doing it.