With World Poker Tour live events currently on hold, that’s meant more time for online poker for Tony Dunst. The Las Vegas-based poker pro and WPT commentator turned that free time into a World Series of Poker Online bracelet on Tuesday.
Dunst, 35, took down Event 21: $777 No Limit Hold’em Six Handed at WSOP.com for $168,342. The win adds a second bracelet to his poker career.
“It was sweet because I just had all the chips going into the final table,” he told USPoker. “It just went smoothly.’”
That’s the kind of run any poker player would dream of – lots of chips for a shot at a bracelet. The score has now vaulted him among the Top 10 in the Online Bracelet Leaderboard.
Summer away from live tournament poker and WPT events
With major tournament poker shut down, Dunst faced a bit of a double whammy. His duties for the WPT have been curtailed and he’s had fewer opportunities to play live poker.
The WSOP Online offered a respite from that with some nice results. Tuesday’s event featured 1,361 entries and a prize pool of $952,700.
“In a way, we’re very lucky in poker that we can pivot the online side,” he says. “The WPT has been able to pivot to do things with international sites and the US-based sites can run major series. I’ve got to think that a lot of other people during this period are just going stir crazy.”
Dunst also scored a third-place finish in the first event of the series for $57,881. His first bracelet came in 2016 in a $1,000 NLHE event for $339,254. He also scored a runner-up finish in 2019 and now has $1.3 million in WSOP winnings.
No stranger to online poker, Dunst has no thoughts of diminishing a bracelet won via laptop. Working through fields of more than a thousand entries is no easy task.
“I came up online, so winning a huge tournament is actually very meaningful to me,” he says. “I never really had a big online score even prior to this series. My online results have always lagged behind, so in a lot of ways this was always something that I wanted to get done.”
Online poker commentating and hitting the court
While his regular WPT duties may have been disrupted, Dunst has lent his voice to some online event analysis. The WPT teamed up with Budweiser in May for a celebrity charity event. He served as an analyst for the streaming event.
Dunst has also been working with the tour’s sweepstakes poker and training sites as well – ClubWPT and LearnWPT.
Beyond the current series at WSOP.com, Dunst currently has no plans on playing outside the country. That includes the WSOP Online at GGPoker or the WPT partypoker series.
“It’s just not really a great time to be traveling so I’m not looking to get to an international destination where I could legally play,” he says.
When not on the virtual felt, the tennis court has been a regular stop for Dunst this summer. The time away from live poker has also helped work on a game he’s always wanted to get better at.
“I never took the game seriously and told myself one day I would,” he says. “I grew up playing tennis but never pushed myself to play it very seriously. So that’s what I’ve been doing lately.”
From high school home games to poker success and TV commentary
The road to television and poker success started in high school for Dunst, who grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. Home poker games with friends in high school led to online poker success at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.
He began playing live events as well in the mid-2000s, and left college in 2006. Dunst launched a full-time poker career and enjoyed the global travel that came with it.
A few years later, his college theater studies helped when the WPT began looking for another voice on the show. As a successful online pro, Dunst was brought on board in 2010 to host the Raw Deal segment.
Adding the view of the modern player, Dunst represented players well-versed in the game after seeing thousands of hands online. He added his own tour title at the WPT-Caribbean in 2013 for $145,000.
When Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton retired from the commentary booth in 2017, Dunst took over those duties with Vince Van Patten.
Dunst’s online skills have now served him well on television and in major tournaments. He has more than $3.8 million in live tournament winnings. A few more big runs may find him battling for the WSOP Online player of the series.
Through 21 events, only three tournaments have fallen short of a six-figure winner’s payout. Dunst has been pleased with the success of the series so far. He hopes that momentum carries over to more states legalizing online poker.
“The numbers are excellent,” he says. “We’re seeing that in all forms whether it’s the bracelet events or subscription sites like ClubWPT or other legalized states. There’s a really strong demand for online poker in the United States.”
For complete information about the WSOP Online including facts, schedules, and Twitch streams, click here.
Photos courtesy WPT