Tony Ma

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 22:26

Tony Ma

A poker biography of Tony Ma.

Quick Information

Name - Tony Ma

Born - 1956, Saigon, Vietnam

Poker Room - Not Available


Tony "The Animal" Ma is exactly what his moniker suggests--- he is ruthless and fearless when it comes to poker. He is clearly someone who would not let anything get on his way of winning. He already proved this on the World Series of Poker in 1996. His characteristic ruthlessness and assertiveness obviously contributed to Tony's success on the game as proved by his numerous titles and more than $3,950,000 in total winnings.

Born in Saigon, Vietnam in 1956, Tony came to United States shores in 1975. His travel from his homeland to the US was something Tony would never forget. Before he came to US, Tony was recruited with the South Vietnamese navy. In April 29, 1975, Tony was sailing with other recruits in a cargo ship. That fateful evening, their crew heard of the surrender of the South, thus receiving instructions from their officer to keep on sailing. As Tony vividly remembers it, there were more or less thirty people aboard that cargo ship apart from a number of civilians who got into the ship as it drew out of the port. They proceeded to sail and reach the Philippine shores, which at that time was a sanctuary to many refugees who were running away from the communist country of Vietnam.

Tony got to United States through the help of an American benefactor based on Bristol, Connecticut who took him in. In 1987, Tony relocated to South California where got interested with playing dominoes and Pai Gow. He was doing good with these games but knew that he needed a regular-paying job to provide for his family. He then got employed first as a ship welder and then later on, a truck driver.

However, the money he was earning from those jobs were not enough to satisfy Tony. With this, he turned to casino where he hoped to make $100 per day. As he watched the players there, a thought occurred to him: he must play poker. Tony described the realization as something short of an omen. The thought was risky, but with his wife's support, Tony proceeded to follow that omen.

Tony picked up poker from watching professionals play. Not soon after, Tony became the same poker professional he used to watch. His very first tourney was in 1994 at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles where he finished in the 6th place out of around 300 players. Although it was not a bad position to be in, Tony was frustrated at the way he played. What he did was he wrote down the wrong moves he did at the game and vowed never to commit them the next time he play.

The 'next time' came when he became a finalist at the World Series of Poker along with other big shot poker pros John Bonetti, T.J. Cloutier, Peter Vilandos, and Johnny “Oriental Express” Chan. While the rest of the players opted for a chop, Tony held his ground with his eyes on the win. His doggedness to continue playing irritated his opponents; but it was all for the greater good because Tony emerged a winner at the end, taking home $236,000 in cash prizes.

Since the 1996 World Series of Poker final game, Tony immediately rose to poker popularity. He was even named Player of Year by the Card Player Magazine in 1999. At present, Tony still continues to become a prominent figure in the poker world. He currently lives in South El Monte, California.