I Am Antonio “the Magician” Esfandiari, And I’ve Won $26 Million Playing Poker Ama!
Born in Tehran as Amir Esfandiari, the living legend and his family moved to San Jose in California when he was nine years old. Due to his deep ambition to become a famous magician, Esfandiari changed his name to Antonio in an attempt to appear more enigmatic. Despite his success as a professional magician, Esfandiari discovered that his true calling lay in the world of poker after he was invited to play a game of Texas Hold ‘em.
Esfandiari is also the youngest player to ever win a World Poker Tour title. “The Magician” has made five WPT final tables and is one of the most feared names in tournament poker. Image sourceApparently, Antonio’s father was uncomfortable with his way of making a living, so the young magician left home to live with a friend who introduced him to the game of poker. According to Antonio, his most memorable hand was the year he won his One Drop game.
Over the years, Antonio has established himself as one of the top players around, mixing things up with the best of the best, both in tournaments and in cash games. Realizing he was naturally talented for poker, Esfandiari was increasingly falling in love with the game. Of course, there was also the fact that he could make significantly more money playing cards than he could possibly earn performing tricks.
Dating back to 2002, Esfandiari has three results of winning at least seven digits. Esfandiari truly hit it big, though, when he entered and won the first-ever $1m Big One for One Drop at the 2012 WSOP. The inaugural charity tournament started by Cirque du Soleil’s founder Guy Laliberte was the hottest ticket in poker at the time and Esfandiari made the most of it. 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.
In total, he has $27.8 million in live tournament cashes, good for 15th all-time. That means he’s cashed for more than $9.4 million beyond the One Drop. Antonio Esfandiari has had a storied poker career that’s seen him rack up $26.5 million in tournament winnings. However, the 2016 PCA Main Event certainly won’t add to his storied career since he was disqualified for peeing at the table. That rematch will be played sometime within the next few months, and this time the stakes will be doubled from a $50,000 buy-in to a $100,000 buy-in.
Like many who’d go on to make successful careers in the game, Esfandiari was instantly hooked. The natural talent, combined with the hard work, helped Esfandiari become quite a good performer. After a while, he was able to earn $300 – $400 an hour performing magic tricks, but “The Magician” was just at the start of his extraordinary life path.