Poker Legends: Antonio Esfandiari
Antonio Esfandiari, also known as The Magician, is one of poker’s biggest personalities. Although he’s known for his chip tricks, sleight of hand with cards, and outgoing nature, he’s no slouch on the felt either. His accolades include 3 World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets, 2 World Poker Tour (WPT) titles, and even a time spent as #1 on the All Time Money List after he won $18 million in The Big One for One Drop.
Born in Tehran as Amir Esfandiari, this legend is a true representation of the American dream. He started his hustle at the age of eleven as a telemarketer, making $400 a week so that he could buy fashionable clothes and treat his friends to fun times. That partying lifestyle would continue into his time as a Las Vegas high roller, ending only recently when he had kids and decided to become a family man.
The King of Prop Bets
Every poker player loves to gamble, but Esfandiari takes it to the next level. He’s even had a whole reality TV show called I Bet You where he goes around making crazy bets with his good friend and fellow poker pro Phil Laak. But that’s hardly the end of it.
In 2016, Esfandiari was kicked out of a poker tournament for peeing in a bottle under the poker table as part of a prop bet with his friend Bill Perkins. Nobody knows exactly how much the bet was for, but Esfandiari said it was “massive.” He may have gotten kicked out of the tournament, but he still won the bet.
He’s also told some other crazy stories of bets he's made. The biggest bet he ever made, he said, was when he bet that he could go an entire year with no ‘release.’ After just 9 days, he realized that it just wasn’t worth it and bought out.
Another time, he bet movie star Kevin Hart that he could beat him in a boxing match. Hart gave Esfandiari 35-1 odds and 7 months to train, and Esfandiari put everything he had into it. He didn’t think he could win, but he wanted to man up and at least give it a shot so that he could tell his kids that he did it. All the training paid off when Esfandiari beat Hart in a huge upset.
A Fun-loving Personality
If you watch Esfandiari at the poker table, the thing that most sticks out is how much fun he brings to the table. He really wants everyone to have a good time playing, and he’s not afraid to joke around and lighten the mood.
As a former professional magician, Esfandiari is part entertainer and part card shark. That’s a recipe for success, and once he’s old enough to join the Poker Hall of Fame, you can bet that he’ll be on the short list for induction.