Anyone familiar with professional poker players should know about Antonio Esfandiari. The man known as “The Magician” does some awesome and elaborate chip tricks, and above all, he is a world-class poker player too!
In this article, we’ll take a look at:
- Antonio Esfandiari’s life before poker
- The Magician’s professional success
- Antonio Esfandiari’s top 9 hands
Let’s get to it.
Antonio Esfandiari: The early years
Antonio Esfandiari was born “Amir” Esfandiary in Tehran, Iran. When he was nine years old, his family relocated to San Jose, California, where Esfandiari ultimately graduated from Del Mar High School.
He changed his name to Antonio when he was 19 years of age when he became a professional magician. He thought “Antonio the Magician” sounded more mystical than Amir. During one magic performance, he was invited to a Texas Hold’Em game, and the rest is history.
The 39-year-old Antonio has won three World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets and two World Poker Tour (WPT) championships. His WSOP bracelets came in these events:
- 2004 $2,000 Pot Limit Omaha
- 2012 “Big One for One Drop” No-Limit Hold’Em (NLHE)
- 2012 WSOP Europe €1,100 NLHE events
As for WPT championships, he won both the $10,000 L.A. Poker Classic and the 2010 $10,000 Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
His largest win was at the aforementioned “Big One for One Drop”—a $1 million buy-in tournament to benefit the One Drop Foundation—in which he won $18,346,673 — the largest single cash prize in the history of poker. Esfandiari’s impressive $27.6 million in total live earnings has him currently 4th on the US All-Time Money List behind Justin Bonomo, Erik Seidel and Daniel Colman and 6th on the All-Time Money List behind Bonomo, Daniel Negreanu, Seidel, Fedor Holz, and Colman.
Today, he is married to Amal, the daughter of poker pro Badih “Bob” Bounahra. The couple welcomed their adorable son in January 2015.
Note: Want to play poker like the pros? Join the 198,251 people that have upgraded their poker skills with our Preflop Charts – for FREE. Get them now!
And now, Antonio Esfandiari’s hands
If you read YouTube comments and poker boards, it’s apparent that Antonio Esfandiari is many people’s favorite player. In addition to his prowess—he is, after all, among the top earners in the entire game—he is also quite likable and gracious. So, without further ado, here are 9 totally Antonio Esfandiari hands.
9. Esfandiari versus Hellmuth
You’d think the Magician actually enjoys tormenting the Poker Brat. But seriously, who wouldn’t?
8. Antonio Esfandiari versus Phil Laak
When Laak outdraws Esfandiari on the river in this seventh-season Premier League hand, the Magician’s face made me tear up a bit. But, in his usual classy way, Esfandiari shakes it off. Now, if it had been Phil Hellmuth…
7. The Antanio Esfandiari/Phil Laak saga continues
Sometimes, when you know someone too well—or play someone too frequently—disaster strikes. Especially when your opponent is Irish. Check it out.
6. Esfandiari and Laak yet again
The bromance continues in this humorous clip. Esfandiari is as endearing as always.
5. Esfandiari gets lucky on the river, for once
We don’t want the lovely Ms. Tilly getting jealous now, do we? In this Poker after Dark hand, Antonio Esfandiari is the one with the luck against Tilly and actor Don Cheadle after a crazy call.
4. Antonio Esfandiari does Elvis
In this hand, we get a closeup of the Magician’s Elvis-esque lip curl/snarl as he is bested by Tom Dwan’s one-outer on the river. But, again, Antonio Esfandiari is all class.
3. What a great call
Esfandiari makes a stellar call against Bill Perkins in this Poker after Dark hand.
2. Esfandiari and Laak, the conclusion
And in our top spot, we have a hilarious heads-up hand between Esfandiari and Laak. Pay close attention at 10:14 when the Magician demonstrates an uncanny mind-reading ability. However, as we all know, the Irish are lucky…
1. Antonio Esfandiari bests Sam Trickett
Here’s Esfandiari winning the 2012 Big One for One Drop and the largest cash payout in the history of poker—at Trickett’s expense.
Finally, can you do this?
Mid-2000s Antonio Esfandiari shows off one of his most impressive chip tricks here.
Gravity? What’s that? I think I sprained my thumb.
Do you have a favorite Antonio Esfandiari moment, trick, or hand?
Please share below!
Note: “Our preflop charts are the most efficient and absolute quickest way to improve your poker game. Download them and use them… they work!” -Doug Polk
Read more from Upswing Poker:
- The Wynn Poker Room at the Encore: An Unbiased Review
- The 101 Best Quotes about Poker: Inspirational, True, and Funny Poker Quotes
- Parker Talbot Poker Pro: 5 Unforgettable Moments
Natalie Faulk is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer/blogger and the author of several books. She is an avid low-stakes (for now) poker player and huge Vegas Golden Knights fan.