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(Video) Why High-Stakes Poker Pros Love Letting Go at Burning Man
Every year tens of thousands of people gather in the desert for the Burning Man festival and among them are a small group of the world's best professional poker players.
Antonio Esfandiari, who has won more than $26 million playing live poker tournaments, has been going to Burning Man for the last five years and he says it's his favorite thing in the world.
“Every year I go to Burning Man I leave a better man,” Esfandiari told PokerListings.com.
“Imagine you go to Star Wars, like you're literally in Star Wars, and there's no evil. Everyone's just the best versions of themselves.
“And there's no money so there's no ulterior motives, so everyone's just pure and authentic. On top of that there's no cell phone coverage so everyone's present and in the moment.”
Liv Boeree, one of the UK's most recognizable poker pros, loved it so much last year she's bringing her parents in 2015.
“It really strips everyone down,” explained Boeree.
“You can't really have the image of yourself you have in the outside world. It all gets stripped away because everyone's there just surviving.
“There's 70,000 people living in this hellish climate for six days. It brings out everyone's true qualities and generally they're really, really positive.”
And Max Altergott, a German super high roller specialist, said Burning Man had a massively positive effect.
“Everything is just amazing and completely new, things you've never seen before,” said Altergott.
“It made me appreciate a lot of things and it made me shut down my mind and open my heart to a lot of these things.
“After the second or third day I felt a great sense of relief and a deep feeling of freedom.”
Esfandiari Spearheads $100k Art Car Funded by Poker Pros
Antonio Esfandiari is a Burning Man veteran but 2015 will be the first time he'll show up at the festival with his own portable party pad.
Esfandiari banded together with members of his camp from 2014, including a lot of poker pros, and has taken the lead organizing the build of what he calls a mutant vehicle.
“We all chipped in and we're building this moving party platform for one week of the year and I'm really excited about it,” said Esfandiari.
According to Esfandiari the car cost $100,000 to build.
Other poker pros who have gone to burning man include Jason Koon, Igor Kurganov, Sorel Mizzi and Jeff Gross.
Check out the full video below to hear what it's like directly from Esfandiari, Boeree and Altergott.