About Antonio Esfandiari
Who has more tricks up their sleeve than a magician? One of poker's most interesting players, Antonio Esfandiari, formerly a profession magician, is a bona fide superstar in the card-playing community.
Originally from Tehran, Iran, Esfandiari moved to the United States with his parents in 1988. Esfandiari knew very little English when he started school in his new home but learned the language in less than six months.
Growing up in the San Jose area, Esfandiari was a model student until he hit 12th grade. Esfandiari got heavily involved with the party scene and moved away from home when he was only 17. He soon had an apartment of his own, which he paid for by working as a waiter. His place quickly became party central and his last year of high school suffered as a result.
It was while Esfandiari was waiting tables that he got his first taste of magic. Between tables Esfandiari saw the bartender perform a magic trick. He was so impressed he went straight to the nearest magic shop and asked how the trick was done. The store owner quickly showed Esfandiari the method behind the trick. Esfandiari began throwing magic into his waitering gig, performing for tips, and eventually dropped the waitering part altogether. "Magic Antonio" was able to pull in $300 to $400 an hour just doing magic.
At that time Esfandiari had a roommate who was a professional poker player. One day, at his roommate's suggestion, Esfandiari tried his hand at poker. Despite technically being too young to play he found a way to win money in the first tournament he entered. Esfandiari was hooked and soon, in addition to making rabbits disappear as a magician, he was making other people's money disappear as a poker player.
Later in his career Esfandiari would talk about how the two professions complemented each other. He said that as a magician he learned to gauge human behavior and he was able to use that skill when he moved on to cards.
Just as Esfandiari was getting into high-stakes poker he met a fellow player by the name of Phil Laak. They were sharing a table at the WSOP and Esfandiari was wowing the other players with his magic tricks. Laak was actually trying to figure the tricks out and this irked Esfandiari. Esfandiari moved to another table but Laak followed him there as well. Eventually they started talking and became quick friends.
Laak, who is also known as the Unabomber, ended up coming out to the Bay Area to visit Esfandiari and by the time he left they had agreed to share a place. Ironically both players would go on to attain fame on the poker circuit.
In 2002 Esfandiari made a name for himself at the WPT 49'er Gold Rush Bonanza by getting under Phil Hellmuth's skin and eventually placing third for $44,000. It was the first major tournament win for Esfandiari, but more were soon to come. A year later he made the final table of the $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em tournament at the 2003 WSOP.
Finally in 2004 Esfandiari cemented his place in poker history at the L.A. Poker Classic in Los Angeles. The magician performed some poker magic when he beat out 382 (including Vinny Vinh in heads-up play) to win the massive $1.4 million first-place prize. At the time Esfandiari was the youngest player ever to win a WPT event.
Esfandiari bought a Dodge Viper and an Armani suit with the prize money and hasn't looked back.
Several months after the L.A. classic Esfandiari once again struck gold, this time at the WSOP. He beat Phil Nguyen in the $2,000 Pot-Limit Event to take home a gold bracelet and $184,860.
It was around that time that Esfandiari finally moved to Las Vegas permanently. Since then he's been a huge part of the poker scene.
Esfandiari has maintained his high-profile image by writing books, appearing in video games and even making an instructional DVD. He has also appeared on television in shows like High Stakes Poker and the National Heads-Up Poker Championship. Esfandiari, along with Laak, also starred in the reality show I Bet on You.
It's even rumored that for $1,000 Esfandiari can be hired to give a tour of the nightlife of Las Vegas.
Known for his flashy lifestyle and fantastic chip tricks, the "Magician" will probably be dazzling competitors and railbirds for years to come, whether with his card-playing ability or his magic tricks.
|13||$256,537.00||WSOP 2016 - Event 67 - $111,111 High Roller for One Drop No-Limit Hold'em|
|28||$1,192.00||WSOP 2016 - Event 61 - $1,000 Tag Team No-Limit Hold'em|
|35||$5,650.00||WSOP 2016 - Event 45 - $1500 Mixed No-Limit Hold'em/Pot-Limit Omaha|
|38||$7,881.00||WSOP 2016 - Event 42 - $3000 Shootout No-Limit Hold'em|
|11||$24,596.00||WSOP 2016 - Event 9 - $10,000 Heads Up No-Limit Hold'em Championship|
|168||$40,433.00||WSOP 2015 - $10,000 WSOP Main Event|
|84||$6,150.00||WSOP 2015 - Event 51 - $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em 6-Handed|
|40||$9,457.00||WSOP 2015 - Event 42 - $1,500 Extended Play No-Limit Hold'em|
|18||$12,893.00||WSOP 2015 - Event 30 - $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em|
|56||$4,481.00||WSOP 2015 - Event 22 - $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em|
|261||$5,990.00||WSOP 2015 - Event 16 - MILLIONAIRE MAKER $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em|
|66||$4,836.00||WSOP 2015 - Event 12 - $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em 6-Handed|
|45||$4,011.00||WSOP 2015 - Event 8 - $1,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em|
|45||AU$2,560.00||WSOP APAC 2014 - Event 1 - $1,100 Accumulator|
|270||$2,630.00||WSOP 2014 - Event 62 - Little One for One Drop|
|4||$1,433,438.00||WSOP 2013 - Event 47 - One Drop High Roller|
|139||$2,111.00||WSOP 2013 - Event 34 - $1,000 Turbo No-Limit Hold'em|
|51||$7,071.00||WSOP 2013 - Event 21 - $3,000 6-Max No-Limit Hold'em|
|48||$7,384.00||WSOP 2013 - Event 9 - $3,000 Shootout|
|43||$9,743.00||WSOP 2013 - Event 2 - $5,000 8-Max No-Limit Hold'em|
|9||AU$65,408.00||WSOP APAC 2013 - $10,000 Main Event|
|501||$24,808.00||WSOP 2012 - Event 61 - $10,000 Main Event|
|1||$18,346,673.00||WSOP 2012 - Event 55 - $1 Million Big One for One Drop|
|3||$151,613.00||WSOP 2012 - Event 36 - $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout|
|12||$34,139.00||WSOP 2012 - Event 17 - $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em|
|16||$20,674.00||WSOP 2012 - Event 12 - $10,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold'em|
|329||$2,895.00||WSOP 2012 - Event 9 - $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Re-entry|
|44||$4,011.00||WSOP 2012 - Event 5 - $1,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em|
|7||$58,288.00||WSOP 2011 - Event 45 - $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em|
|1||$870,124.00||WPT - Season 9 - Bellagio Five Diamond|
|73||$4,504.00||WSOP 2010 - Event 47 - $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em|
|30||$17,987.00||WSOP 2010 - Event 35 - $10k Heads-Up Championship|
|12||$49,024.00||WSOP 2010 - Event 17 - $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em|
|211||$2,880.00||WSOP 2010 - Event 5 - $1,500 No-Limit Hold|
|23||$28,569.00||WPT Season 8 - Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic|
|24||$352,832.00||2009 WSOP - Event 57 - $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em World Championship|
|24||$14,967.00||2009 WSOP - Event 52 - $3,000 Triple Chance No-Limit Hold'em|
|59||$23,420.00||WPT Season 7 - Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic|
|53||$14,438.00||2008 WSOP - Event 25, World Championship Heads-Up No-Limit Hold'em|
|8||€168,000.00||EPT Season 4 - EPT Grand Final|
|62||$9,708.00||2007 WSOP - Event 35, No-Limit Hold'em|
|39||$11,905.00||2007 WSOP - Event 8, No-Limit Hold’em w/Re-Buys|
|43||$6,570.00||2005 WSOP - Event 13, $5,000 No-limit Hold'em|
|5||$63,020.00||2005 WSOP - Event 6, $2,500 Short-handed no-limit Hold'em|
|6||$8,000.00||WPT Season 2 - WPT Invitational|
|1||$1,399,135.00||WPT Season 2 - L.A. Poker Classic|
|5||$0.00||WPT Specials - WPT Bad Boys|
|3||$44,000.00||WPT Season 1 - Gold Rush|