Antonio Esfandiari is the youngest player to have won a televised WPT event, and is the youngest player ever to have won a million dollar prize in a single tournament. Perhaps these records have to do with the fact that Esfandiari was first and foremost a professional magician before he took to the poker tables with such unparalleled success.
The 30 year is originally from Teheran, where just owning a pack of playing cards was considered a cardinal sin. He and his family moved to California, and at 19 he studied the mystical art of conjuring, but soon turned his attention to the cards.
In 2004 he won nearly $1.4 million at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, which boasts the largest card room in the world. His luck did not end there however, as he went on to win his one, and only, WSOP bracelet in the same year. This was a remarkable feat, as he outplayed two of the most successful poker players of all time – Phil Helmuth, who currently holds the record for the most WSOP bracelets with eleven and Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson, who also holds a very tidy number of bracelets with five.
Esfandiari is the consummate showman and has appeared in several televised tournaments and chat shows including:
- The Poker Superstar Invitational Tournament where he finished second in his second appearance
- GSN’s High Stakes Poker
- NBC’s Poker after Dark
- I Bet You
- MOJO HD
To date Esfandiari has won over $2 500 000 in prize money and some of his bigger wins include:
- WPT LA Poker Classic in Los Angeles – $1 399 135
- 35th WSOP in Las Vegas – $184 860
- Poker Royale – Battle of the Sexes in Las Vegas – $20 000
- Quarterfinals of Poker Superstars Invitational in Las Vegas – $30 000
- Semi finals of the Poker Superstars Invitational – $50 000
Big Tour Cashes
- WPT 3rd annual 49’er Gold Rush Bonanza in San Francisco where he came third – $44 000
- 34th WSOP in Las Vegas where he came 5th – $34 060
- The WPT Ultimatebet.com Poker Classic in Palm Beach where he pocketed $9000 for his 34th placefinish
- The WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars of Poker in San Jose where he finished 14th -$4000
- The 36th WSOP Short Handed No Limit Hold Em event where he came 5th and took home $63 020
- The $5000 No Limit Hold Em event at the 36th WSOP where he finished 43rd and prize money was $6570
- The Battle of the Champions II in LA where he was placed 5th
- The WPT Poker by the Book Chapter 2, where he finished 4th
- The $1000 No Limit Hold Em event at the 38th WSOP – 39th with prize money of $11 005
- He came 62nd at the $1 500 No Limit Hold Event at the 38th WSOP where he won $9 708.