– General Introduction –
Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari is one of the most popular poker players in history. Fans and peer poker players love him for his honesty and happy-go-lucky attitude; he’s being seen as “one of the good guys”.
He has made history and achieved immortality by scoring the biggest ever tournament win of over $18 Millions when he took down the $1 Million buy-in event “Big One For One Drop” in 2012.
– Key Career Dates –
- 2004: $10k WPT L.A. Poker Classics win for $1,399,135
- 2004: $2k WSOP Pot-limit Hold’em win for $184,860 plus bracelet
- 2010: $10k WPT Five Diamond win for $870,124
- 2012: $1M “Big One For One Drop” win for $18,346, 673 plus bracelet
- 2012: $1k WSOPE NLHE win for $164,655 plus bracelet
- 2016: $1.5k WSOP Circuit Main Event for $226,785
– Antonio Esfandiari’s Career –
→ Beginnings ←
Antonio was born as Amir Esfandiary in Tehran, Iran, on 8th December 1978. When he was 9 years old, his father brought the family to California, away from war and destruction. His mother left and Antonio’s father raised the two brothers by himself, becoming Antonio’s hero.
Being an immigrant and looking very different from his schoolmates, Antonio worked hard to fit in and be one of the cool kids. He tried too hard.
At the end of high school he got busted by the police for dealing pot in school. He was briefly in jail and swore to himself and his dad to never do anything illegal again.
→ The Magic Happened ←
He tidied himself up and got to work. He loved cards, and after he saw a magic trick performed in front of his eyes, he needed to know everything about it. He learned and practiced and anybody he met got to see a magic trick.
When things got more serious and he started making money with magic, he decided to change his name from Amir to Antonio to sound less “gypsy”. At the same time he had a nose job done to look less foreign.
→ The Poker Happened ←
While he was making money performing magic, he got introduced to poker. A roommate gave him a poker book to read (“Winning Low Limit Hold’em” by Lee Jones). He devoured it and immediately started crushing in cash games, understanding nuances of the game, that nobody else around him did.
He juggled working as a waiter and playing poker for a while before deciding to try his luck in Vegas and play with the big boys.
Little did he know that he would come back a big boy himself. He went on to win the televised 2004 WPT L.A. Poker Classics for close to $1.4 Million and became an instant celebrity.
Antonio manifested this status by winning his first WSOP bracelet just a few months later.
All that success went a little to his head and the Vegas lifestyle also caught up with him. His apartment was the party pad for all his friends. They even had keys to come and go as they pleased. An extreme highlight occurred when he let Dan Bilzerian shoot him in the chest, wearing a bulletproof vest. It seemed Antonio had lost his way and his poker enthusiasm.
→ Becoming A Legend ←
Finally in 2010 he managed to celebrate his comeback, winning another WPT title, and two years later achieved the highlight of his career and poker immortality by winning the $1 Million buy-in “Big One For One Drop” event for $18,346,673, the biggest ever won amount in a poker tournament. After a noisy and jubilous celebration with his friends he hugged his dad and the microphones caught him say “This is for you !”.
→ Personal Highs and Lows ←
Antonio went on to become a dad in 2015 and he said it has changed his life and that he is crying every day out of happiness and gratefulness.
This didn’t stop him to get out of line once more at the PCA in 2016 getting disqualified for peeing in a bottle at the poker table after a bet with Bill Perkins had him lunge everywhere for two days and he was unable to move to the toilet.
→ Rankings ←
With currently (October 2018) $27,685,056 in lifetime winnings, he is 6th in the All Time Money list on Hendon Mob (highest rank was 1st after the “Big One For One Drop” win)
→ Sponsorship Deals ←
- Past: Ultimate Poker
- Past: Victory Poker
Antonio Esfandiari on Social Media
Twitter: https://twitter.com/magicantonio 192,000 followers Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AntonioEsfandiari/ 87,000 fans Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/magicantonio/ 69,000 subscribers
- Publications: “World Poker Tour – In The Money”