With the 54th annual World Series of Poker almost upon us, one player who is looking forward to travelling to Las Vegas is the seasoned World Poker Tour anchor and double bracelet winner, Tony Dunst. Originally known as the online moniker of ‘Bond18’, Tony’s career in poker has seen him turn into a huge success and a household name.
On Tournaments and Travel
WPT Fans love Tony Dunst, and his penchant for travel and poker has inspired players across the world to want to join ClubWPT and meet him in the sun somewhere. We caught up with the man who was born in Milwaukee and has become a journeyman in the game he loves.
“My favorite aspect of travelling is the spontaneity to it,” says the two-time WSOP bracelet winner. “Unless you know your own itinerary, you don’t know what’s around each corner. You’re going to new places, meeting new people, and it has a style to it. Life becomes a neverending adventure, especially playing tournaments.”
As Tony describes, planning for tournament days is impossible. They could last a long time or be over in a matter of minutes.
“The variance is incredible,” he says. “You don’t know what place you’re gonna go deep or when you’re going to get off early and have time to explore. You never know what’s going to happen – it’ a lot of fun.”
The process of travelling – especially plane travel – has changed a lot over the years. In the beginning, every place was new to a young Tony Dunst, who didn’t travel out of the United States until he was 20. The first time he did, he went long-haul… and loved every minute of it.
“I went on a very distant trip for my first one. Now I’ve done that a lot; there’s a rhythm and a familiarity to the process of travel, the places I go or even how I feel playing tournaments. If you’re going to play serious poker or even working in the professional world you need to be responsible and know how you’re body’s going to respond to the process of travel.
That first trip was a long one, and to a poker-playing destination that is no longer on the map.
“I finished college aged 20 and had a chance to buy a trip to a one-off poker stop in Singapore. Someone was selling a package half price because they couldn’t go and I thought it would be really cool. I haven’t been there since because of the restrictions on travel. I flew from Milwaukee to Singapore for a week in 2006, my total travel was 20 hours or so.”
Tony’s Travel Tips
Starting any travel trip in the modern age is something that requires effort and could use a deal of organization. One advantage Dunst has is his ability to rest almost on command.
“Usually I’m able to sleep through the majority of a flight, be it a short destination or long haul; it relaxes me to the extent I end up falling asleep even if it’s a daytime flight. If not, I’ll watch movies I haven’t gotten around to. Being sequestered in space with a movie catalogue is plenty of entertainment for me.”
Travelling by plane, Tony has two main pieces of advice for players looking to embark on a more regular pattern of long journeys to poker destinations.
“First, I’d say take the time to get whatever travel priority service is relevant to the trips you make. It took me 10 minutes and was the best time and money I’d spent in terms of travel. Second, always give yourself a little extra time – s**t happens. I’m always looking to time it just right, but if you do that too frequently, you can run into a traffic jam, an unexpectedly busy day at the airport, just give yourself time, it’ll really reduce the stress element.”
Tony isn’t one for carrying anything out of the ordinary when he travels. The basics, the bathroom conveniences, of course, but lately he’s been prioritising ‘bringing my tennis racquet and looking for matches’. A lot of his efforts are spent making sure to balance the excesses of poker with the spirit of exercise.
“I like to stay active, and if you’re really deep in the tournament it can be hard to find the time,” he says. “It is really easy to get into unhealthy habits – eating crappy food, drinking too much, sleeping too little. I try to balance those temptations with getting regular exercise to stay in shape through those times. I’ve mostly been playing tennis, which is demanding enough on the body that I don’t have to do other stuff, I lift once a week but everything is built around maximising what I can do with tennis.”
Arriving in a Foreign Country
Tony’s travel regime might be seen as brutal by some. As a representative of the World Poker Tour, he travels to present and play. Fortunately, he’s now in a great rhythm of knowing what to do when he touches down on foreign soil.
“When I first get to a country, I’m doing my best to get on schedule depending on how large the time jump is. Sometimes that’s easy, sometimes it can be very difficult; it can take a week to feel normal. If I have a large jump coming up, I’ll give myself extra days before any serious poker or jobs I have once I get there, so you can function well and go deep into a live poker tournament. You don’t want to blast off a stack and wonder why you travelled.”
Once he’s set his body clock to a new country, Tony sees it as vital that he gets outside as early as he can each tournament day.
“The best thing I found is to get exercise and wear myself out a bit. I’m big on going out first thing in the morning and get sunlight, that’s the one everyone seems to swear by to align their circadian rhythms.”
After all these years travelling by road, sea and air, Tony finds it tough to narrow down a favorite stop along the way. The ‘easy answer’ he says would be the Aussie Millions – the location of his first major tournament, a former home and a place where he was surrounded by friends. But there are so many to choose from now. Poker has truly become a tour of the whole world.
“There are so many good stops on the WPT that have become frequent. Hard Rock, Montreal – I love the Playground – and a really cool place was The Wynn in Las Vegas for the WPT World Championship in December 2022 – that was one of the best tour experiences I’ve ever had.”
Tony loves to travel outside of poker, and if there’s no tournament taking place, he’s still just as keen to discover new places.
“I like to travel whenever I’m not doing poker stops,” he says. “During the pandemic, that changed, but I’m a big fan of separating poker and vacation travel. I don’t want to turn every tour stop into a vacation or vice versa. Lately, I’ve been to Hawaii and enjoyed a lot of nature there.”
They say that at any one moment, there are 120,000 people above the Earth, flying from somewhere familiar to a new destination. There’s a great chance one of them is the ever-resourceful WPT presenter and player Tony Dunst. It is what he knows so well.