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Esfandiari: “We Need the Pros to Stop Being So Professional”

Antonio Esfandiari is the biggest-name player invited by 888poker to play in its first big poker festival at the Aspers Casino in London.

As you might expect he's be in high demand but he still made time to sit down with us for a few minutes to answer the crucial questions on everyone's minds.

Namely, what does “fashion forward” mean, what's it like working with Phil Laak on ESPN, how was his experience as a coach for the One Drop Extravaganza and who’s his favorite to win the November Nine. (Hint: It's no-one).

PL: First things first, what is “fashion forward?" You used the expression during your pro analysis segment with Phil Laak on the ESPN broadcast.

Antonio Esfandiari: It means that you have at least some sense of fashion instead of being stuck 10 years in the past.

Phil Laak
Fashion backwards.

PL: You’re not possibly referring to your co-host?

AE: I am. Phil Laak is the antithesis of fashion forward. It’s one thing to dress disastrous when nobody’s looking, but it’s another thing to dress disastrous when the whole world is watching.

PL: How do you prepare for these TV segments?

AE: They send us the hand history so we have an idea what the action is. And then the banter is just off the hook.

It’s nothing we rehearse before. We just roll with it. You know we had a show for years so it’s not exactly new for us to do this.

PL: Being so close to poker on TV, what do you think we can do to make it more interesting?

AE: We need a time clock and we need the pros to stop being so freaking professional. If they take too long and make it too serious – which it is already becoming – it takes the fun out of poker.

If you want to get more people interested in the game, make it fun and stop being a robot in the game.

PL: Should there be more characters like Matusow and Hellmuth in front of the camera or more players with celebrity status?

AE: All these games exist already but in a big tournament you obviously don’t know who makes it far. You have to play the cards you’re dealt and that’s a tough spot for the producers.

Guy Laliberte
Got to try new things.

PL: What about the Big One for One Drop, now only for amateurs but with pro assistance.

AE: I think that’s a different avenue for the game.

If you have players who don’t really play that much but are wealthy, if they get a little support from a professional player it might make them more interested in playing.

It brings a different element to poker. You have to try a lot of different things to see what sticks and I think it was a very creative idea of Guy Laliberté to come up with the coaching idea.

We don’t know if it works but we have to try to find out.

PL: Did it work for you? You were involved with a player named Bob Safai.

AE: Oh, yes. We were having a fantastic time. When he ran deep I was at his side sweating the action, and when he took a terrible bad beat for all the money when we were down to two tables, I felt the pain.

Esfandiari One Drop Winner
If there's another One Drop, you can bet Esfandiari will be in it.

PL: So, will there be another Big One?

AE: I have spoken with Guy but I won’t reveal the future of this event. There are several ideas on the table.

I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen but you have to realize that it’s a lot of work for Guy. 

The tournament is for a great cause but it’s really up to him whether there will be another one.

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