Numbered among the most talented professional poker players
in the world, Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari has also become one of the most recognizable due to ample television exposure that includes appearances in every season of the popular poker TV shows High Stakes Poker
and Poker After Dark. Esfandiari's impressive live tournament career boasts one WSOP bracelet, 2 WPT titles and almost $4M in total winnings at the end of 2010.
Antonio Esfandiari was born Amir Esfandiari in Tehran, Iran in 1978. His father was a successful businessman, but the war between Iran and Iraq from 1980 to 1988 so devastated the value of Iranian currency that by the time his family was able to leave their war-torn home for American soil in 1988, the family was no longer wealthy.
Throughout his school
years, Antonio made straight A's until a fight with his father at the age of 17 led to Antonio leaving home, and eventually getting an apartment with the money he made as a waiter. Having his own place throughout his senior year of high school inevitably provoked Friday night parties that had a growing impact on Antonio's grade average as the partying escalated.
Still in high school when he took an interest in magic - after seeing a bartender at the restaurant where he waited tables perform a few tricks he couldn't fathom - Antonio bought materials and books at a local magic shop, and spent many hours every day learning and practicing. Eventually, Antonio Esfandiari was earning extra tips
entertaining customers while waiting tables, and soon he was landing gigs at corporate events for up to $400 an hour.
At the age of 20, Antonio Esfandiari was introduced to poker through his roommate. Winning the first tournament he ever played, Antonio's friend suggested that he take the time to read about poker strategy
if he intended to pursue playing poker seriously. Taking his friend's advice, within two years Antonio Esfandiari was earning enough money playing poker to quit waiting tables and doing magic shows.
The long term friendship Antonio Esfandiari has shared with fellow poker pro Phil Laak
began during the World Series of Poker when Antonio Esfandiari noticed while entertaining people at his table that Laak was staring at his hands in an effort to figure out how he was performing the magic tricks.
Deciding to move to another table to avoid the prying eyes, Phil Laak simply followed Esfandiari to the next table and continued to study Antonio's hands. Conversation ensued, and the two became fast friends; eventually going in together on an apartment.
Esfandiari's poker career gained huge momentum in 2004 when he won his first World Poker Tour title and just under $1.4M, followed by his first World Series of Poker bracelet just a few months later in a Pot Limit Hold'em event. Continuing to cash in one event after another throughout 2005, Antonio Esfandiari also took third place to Chris Ferguson
(2nd) and Phil Hellmuth
(1st) in the National Heads-up Poker Championship.
Earning his second WPT title in 2010 at the Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic No Limit Hold'em Championship, Esfandiari added another $870K to his career tournament winnings.
Nearly as famous for his wild, Vegas-style parties as for his expertise at poker, Antonio Esfandiari values having fun and enjoying each moment of his life above all else. Antonio is currently sponsored by online poker room
, Victory Poker.