On Sunday night at 8pm and 11pm local time on FSN, viewers will tune in to watch some of the best poker players in the world pony up $10,000 for the chance to enter poker history as a WPT Champion at WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic. The episode will feature extended playdown coverage, starting from Day 1 and going all the way down to the final six who will make up the WPT televised final table. At that final table will be a player who is no stranger to the bright lights of the WPT TV set, Antonio Esfandiari, who will be gunning for his third WPT title and back-to-back wins at the Bellagio on his birthday.
Here’s a quick look at the man they call “The Magician.”
|WPT Career Earnings
|WPT Final Tables
|WPT Tournaments Played
The Iranian-born and California-bred Antonio Esfandiari earned his nickname “The Magician” thanks to his sleight of hand skills. Esfandiari first became intrigued by magic after a bartender at the restaurant he waited tables in showed him a few tricks. The teen-aged Esfandiari quickly mastered a number of tricks and started performing at that very restaurant.
Esfandiari’s love for cards extended beyond card tricks though. He caught the poker bug after a trip to a Bay Area cardroom when he was 19 years-old. After building up a bankroll in games around his hometown of San Jose, Esfandiari relocated to Vegas where he met what many consider his best friend, Phil Laak. With Laak’s help, Esfandiari sharpened his poker and his bankroll management skills.
A short while later, Esfandiari started to make what would be a lasting mark on the World Poker Tour. He final tabled the tour’s Gold Rush Event in the tour’s debut season, ultimately finishing third. Esfandiari racked up two more final tables in Season II, winning the LA Poker Classic at the Commerce for $1,399,135 and followed that up days later with a sixth place finish in the WPT Celebrity Invitational. Esfandiari’s red hot 2004 continued with a WSOP bracelet victory in a $2,000 Pot Limit Hold’em event and, over the years, Esfandiari has amassed more than $4.5 million in career tournament earnings.
Between 2004 and 2010 though, Esfandiari had a tough time finding a way back to a WPT final table. Seven years after Esfandiari’s first WPT victory, Esfandiari got one hell of a birthday present at the Five Diamond World Poker Classic at Bellagio during Season IX. After holding the chip lead for the vast majority of the tournament, Esfandiari rallied at an all-star final table to beat good friend Andrew Robl heads-up for the title. His rail hoisted the birthday boy in the air following his win, celebrating him growing another year older and $870,124 richer, not to mention his inclusion in the elite group of players with two WPT titles to their credit.
(Bio info from WorldPokerTour.com)