Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari is an up and coming name on the professional poker circuit, and is known for his skill and success at Texas Hold ‘Em. Antonio Esfandiari was born Amir Esfandiari in Teheran, Iran in 1978. At the age of 9, the family moved from his birthplace in Iran to San Jose, California, and there he was raised by his father and grandparents as his mother returned to Iran. In response to childhood teasing and bullying, Amir changed his name to Anthony, and later, for professional reasons, to Antonio. Antonio was an excellent student until a falling out with his father in his late teens, after which time he lived on his own and supported himself as he finished school.

As a teen, while working as a waiter, Antonio saw a bartender perform a magic trick and developed a keen interest. He went to the local magic shop, bought supplies, and started teaching himself magic. He spent two years practicing magic twelve hours a day, and by twenty he was working as a professional magician. Over time he developed a private clientele through the restaurant he worked for, and was considered a skilled magician.

At 20, Antonio Esfandiari had played a little poker, specifically $2/4 and $3/6 Hold ‘Em, but had not played in a tournament until he accompanied a roommate to a poker tournament at the Garden City Club in San Jose. He won that tournament, and spent some time thereafter researching and reading to improve his playing strategies and skills. By 22, the economy, and hence Esfandiari’s magic business, was declining, and poker was proving more and more financially beneficial for Antonio. At this point, Esfandiari quit magic and his day job waiting tables to play poker professionally.

Antonio is the youngest professional poker player to ever win a World Poker Tour Championship, which he won in 2004. He also took home 1.4 million dollars from the L.A. Poker Classic. He has also won a bracelet in the 2004 World Series of Poker No Limit Hold ‘Em $2000 Tournament. In 2005, he placed 6th at the World Poker Tour Invitational and went on to the World Series of Poker Tournament, placing 5th at the World Series of Poker 2005 $2500 shorthanded No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em event, winning $63,000.

Antonio Esfandiari’s new book, “World Poker Tour: In the Money” provides the everyday poker player with insights and strategies for playing non tournament poker. Cash games, a non tournament version of Texas Hold ‘Em, is popular in many casinos, as a home game and more. With Esfandiari’s book, released in March of 2006, any player can improve his or her game.

Today, Antonio is expanding his poker empire. He has signed a deal with an online casino, written a book, worked on a video game and is even doing product endorsements. Antonio moved to Vegas after winning his bracelet in the World Series of Poker, buying himself a home in the gambling capital. Antonio is known not only for his skill in playing poker, but for his showmanship, based in his magician’s skills, with manipulating cards and chips for the camera.

Antonio is a good player because of his skill and his bravado. He is not afraid to lose, and plays freely with his money. Known for partying, this young player isn’t afraid to have fun with his game or his earnings. He thinks of money in three ways. There’s poker money, simply a tool of the trade. There’s fun money that can be spent lavishly on friends, parties and luxuries. Then there’s justice money that should always be conserved and spent well. Antonio Esfandiari is nearly always surrounded by his “rocks and rings”, the friends from California that party and travel with him. They’re found in the best clubs, at the good tables, speaking their own language and enjoying being young, rich, and heading toward fame.

While Esfandiari is enjoying living the party life right now, he expresses a desire for a wife and family, and would like to some day own a restaurant. He once considered going to culinary school. While some of his winnings have gone to supporting his partying lifestyle, he’s also shared the wealth with family, buying his father a new home.

This handsome and debonair player is more than just a pretty face and sleight of hand at that table. His skills at the poker table are rapidly becoming legendary and his lifestyle reminds us to enjoy each day to the fullest as he gambles with friends for who will get stuck with the bar tab. He plays an excellent game of poker and is one of the most feared and respected players on the professional poker circuit. All the signs point to a long and prosperous career for this young and hip poker pro who has nowhere to go but up as he moves fearlessly through life.


  • At the age of 19, he changed his name to Antonio, which was adopted from living in a Mexican American community in San Jose, and became a professional magician. While he was performing magic, he was invited to a game of Texas Hold ’em and started to play poker.
  • He has a younger brother, Pasha, who also plays poker.
  • Esfandiari appeared in the second and third seasons of the Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament.
  • Esfandiari is the face of World Poker Tour’s Poker-Made Millionaire.
  • As of 2012, his total live tournament winnings exceed $23,200,000.

EVENT                                                                                                                                 PLACE                           PRIZE                                   DATE

2005 National Heads-Up Poker Championship
No Limit Hold’em                                                                                                                3rd                               $125,000                      Mar 5, 2005

35th Annual World Series of Poker
Event #21 – WSOP Pot Limit Hold’em                                                                         1st                                $184,860                         May 10, 2004

40th World Series of Poker 2009
Event #57 – WSOP No Limit Hold’em Championship                                           24th                              $352,832                       Nov 7, 2009

43nd World Series of Poker 2012
Event #36 – WSOP Shootout – No Limit Hold’em                                                   3rd                                $151,613                         Jun 19, 2012

43nd World Series of Poker 2012
WSOP No Limit Hold’em The Big One for One Drop                                              1ST                                        $18,346,673                  Jul 1, 2012

Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker ClassiC/ WPT Season 9
WPT No Limit Hold’em Championship                                                                       1st                                  $870,124                      Dec 3, 2010

Five Star World Championship / WPT Event Season 10
WPT No Limit Hold’em Championship                                                                       6th                                  $119,418                      Dec 6, 2011

Five-Star World Poker Classic – WPT Championship Season 3
No Limit Hold’em                                                                                                                3rd                                  $122,035                     Apr 14, 2005

Grand Final PokerStars EPT/Season 4
EPT No Limit Hold’em                                                                                                       8th                                   $220,184                   Apr 17, 2008

Harrahs New Orleans Poker Challenge – WSOP Circuit Event
Event #8 – WSOP Circuit Main Event – No Limit Hold’em                                  3rd                                    $221,445                  May 28, 2005

LA Poker Classic – WPT Season 2
Event #23 – WPT Main Event – No Limit Hold’em                                                  1st                                    $1,399,135                 Feb 24, 2004


Author: Editor

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