Russia Denies Entry to Professional Poker Player
Guoga (aka “Tony G”) was all set to complete in the Party Poker Millions tournament in Sochi when he received word that he was not welcome in Russian territory.
The ban wasn’t a complete surprised as Guoga has often challenged/irritated the Russian Government in his role as a Member of the European Parliament representing Lithuania. In particular, Guoga has defended Lithuanian energy independence and challenged the actions of Russian strongman, Vladimir Putin.
Guoga recently took to Facebook to discuss the issue but mostly steered clear of politics. In the video, Guoga mostly sticks to taunting Russian poker players and suggests that Russians are afraid he might win saying:
What is my crime. Poker fans at large say it’s because of my famous victory against Ralph Perry. He played terrible and I sent him back to Russia. Since then I have been telling plenty of Russian players to get on their bikes. It seems like they have had enough. The truth is that I always respected and continue respecting Russian poker players and common Russian people.
The poker player/politician goes on to acknowledge that politics may have played a role in his ban saying:
The more obvious reason for being blacklisted is speaking up for freedom and democracy, as my EPP Group in the European Parliament colleagues noted. That’s the price of politics and I’m ready to pay it.
This isn’t the first time this year that international politics has forced its way on to the professional poker scene. Earlier this year a World Poker Tour event in South Korea was cancelled because flights from China to Korea were cancelled because of tensions between the two countries over the deployment of missiles aimed at North Korea.
The last time Guoga won a major tournament in Russia he donated his winnings, about $250,000, to a Russian orphanage.