Antonio Esfandiari

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Antonio Esfandiari
Antonio Esfandiari in 2008
Nickname(s)The Magician
ResidenceSan Francisco, California
BornAmir Esfandiary
(1978-12-08) December 8, 1978 (age 45)
Tehran, Iran
World Series of Poker
Final table(s)10
Money finish(es)46
Highest ITM
Main Event finish
24th, 2009
World Poker Tour
Final table(s)8
Money finish(es)16
European Poker Tour
Final table(s)1
Money finish(es)1
Information accurate as of 8 August 2021.

Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari (Persian: امیر اسفندیاری; born December 8, 1978, as Amir Esfandiary), is a professional poker player and former professional magician, known for his elaborate chip tricks. Esfandiari was the face of the now-defunct poker site,[1][2]

In addition to appearing on several poker television shows, he has won two World Poker Tour (WPT) championships and three World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets in his career, including the "Big One for One Drop" in 2012, a $1,000,000 buy-in tournament benefiting the One Drop Foundation. By winning the event, Esfandiari won the second largest single payout in tournament poker history at $18,346,673. Esfandiari was ranked number one for all-time tournament poker winnings, until Daniel Negreanu took this title by finishing 2nd in the "Big One For One Drop 2014".

In 2012, he authored The Magician's Secrets for Winning Tournaments on Insta Poker, a poker strategy game available for iOS.[3]

Early life[edit]

Esfandiari was born in Tehran, Iran. When he was nine years old, his family moved to San Jose, California. He graduated from Del Mar High School in 1997.[4] He then went briefly to jail after he got caught by the police selling marijuana.[5]

At the age of 19, he changed his name to Antonio, which was adopted from a desire to be a magician. Antonio the magician sounded more mystical than Amir the magician. At the same time he also had a nose job done to look less foreign.

He 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.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Esfandiari is married to Amal Bounahra, daughter of poker pro Badih "Bob" Bounahra. Esfandiari and his wife had a son on January 7, 2015. [7]

Live poker[edit]

In 2004, Esfandiari won his first World Series of Poker bracelet in pot-limit Texas Hold 'em.[8] He won close to $1.4 million and his first World Poker Tour title at the L.A. Poker Classic.[9]

Esfandiari appeared in the second and third seasons of the Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament. After finishing last the previous year, Antonio was able to redeem himself with a second-place finish the third season.[10] He was also in each season of GSN series High Stakes Poker and each season of NBC's Poker After Dark.[11][12]

On April 12, 2008, Esfandiari made the final table at the 2008 EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo finishing in eighth place, winning €168,000 ($266,004).[13] On July 14, 2009, Esfandiari made his deepest finish to date in the World Series of Poker Main Event, finishing 24th on day 8 of the tournament, earning $352,832.[14]

In 2010, he won his second World Poker Tour title by winning the WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World for over $870,000.[15] On July 3, 2012, he won the largest buy-in tournament in history, the Big One for One Drop, a $1,000,000 buy-in live event.[16] After beating 47 other players, he earned $18,346,673, the biggest cash prize in poker history.[17] The same year at the 2012 World Series of Poker Europe, Esfandiari won his third bracelet in the €1,100 No Limit Hold'em event, defeating Remi Bollengier heads-up to earn €126,207.[18] In the 2013 World Series of Poker, he placed fourth in the One Drop High Roller tournament, the successor to the Big One that he had won a year earlier, and earned $1,433,438.[19]

As of 2023, his total live tournament winnings exceed $27,800,000.[20] Esfandiari has been ranked as high as #14 on the Global Poker Index.[21]

On January 10, 2016, Esfandiari was disqualified from the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $5,300 Main Event after apparently urinating in a bottle as a result of a prop bet with Bill Perkins.[22]

World Series of Poker Bracelets[edit]

Year Tournament Prize (US$/EU€)
2004 $2,000 Pot Limit Hold'em $184,860
2012 $1,000,000 Big One for One Drop No Limit Hold'em $18,346,673
2012E €1,100 No Limit Hold'em €126,207

An "E" following a year denotes bracelet(s) won at the World Series of Poker Europe

World Poker Tour Titles
Year Tournament Prize (US$)
2004 $10,000 L.A. Poker Classic $1,399,135
2010 $10,000 Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic $870,124

Other television appearances[edit]

Esfandiari co-starred in the TV show I Bet You, on MOJO HD, with Phil Laak.[23] He is the face of World Poker Tour's Poker-Made Millionaire. He was also seen in the season 7 opener of Entourage. In 2012 Esfandiari appeared as an undercover officer in the movie Freelancers starring Robert De Niro and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson.[24]

In January 2014, Antonio Esfandiari began shooting a web reality series with Ultimate Poker: Strip Magic. The series features Esfandiari performing street magic on the Las Vegas strip along with exclusive interviews.[25] In March 2014, the season one debuted on[26]

In September 2014, Esfandiari paired with fellow poker professional Phil Laak on 'Underground Poker', which aired on the Discovery Channel as part of a three-part mini-series entitled 'All In, All Night'.[27]


  • World Poker Tour: In the Money (2006) ISBN 0-06-076305-1


  1. ^ Ryan, Rich; Collson, Brett (April 2, 2013). "Ultimate Poker Signs Antonio Esfandiari as Brand Ambassador". Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  2. ^ Purdum, David (November 14, 2014). "Ultimate Gaming closes company Ultimate Poker". Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  3. ^ Shapiro, Michael (July 4, 2012). "'Insta Poker': instructional game for iPhone, iPad". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 3, 2023.
  4. ^ "Antonio Esfandiari". Team Narnia. Archived from the original on April 30, 2011. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
  5. ^ "Antonio Esfandiari's Life: Net Worth, Losses and Private Life". October 30, 2018. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  6. ^ Esfandiari, Antonio (September 2005). "Little Brother". Bluff Magazine. Archived from the original on July 1, 2010. Retrieved October 10, 2010.
  7. ^ "Antonio Esfandiari on Fatherhood". February 6, 2015. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  8. ^ "35th World Series of Poker - WSOP 2004, Pot Limit Hold'em". The Hendon Mob. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  9. ^ "2004 L.A. Poker Classic, No Limit Hold'em Championship - WPT". The Hendon Mob. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  10. ^ "Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament Season 3, Grand Final". The Hendon Mob. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  11. ^ O'Connor, Will (May 11, 2016). ""Poker After Dark" Debuts in PokerGO Studio with "Open House" Week". PokerGO Tour. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  12. ^ Jenkins, Tom (April 22, 2009). "Antonio Esfandiari Does 47 Pushups on High Stakes Poker". Poker News Daily. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  13. ^ "European Poker Tour - EPT Monte Carlo Grand Final, No Limit Hold'em - EPT Grand Final". The Hendon Mob. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  14. ^ "40th World Series of Poker - WSOP 2009, World Championship No Limit Hold'em". The Hendon Mob. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  15. ^ "2010 Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic, No Limit Hold'em - Championship Event". The Hendon Mob. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  16. ^ Geller, Shari (July 3, 2012). "Antonio Esfandiari Wins $18 Million at WSOP Big One for One Drop $1M Buy-in Poker Tournament". Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  17. ^ "43rd World Series of Poker - WSOP 2012, The Big One for One Drop (Event #55)". The Hendon Mob. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  18. ^ "World Series Of Poker Europe - WSOPE 2012, No Limit Hold'em - (Event #2)". The Hendon Mob. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  19. ^ Fiorvanti, Tim (June 29, 2013). "Esfandiari Finishes Fourth in $111K One Drop High Roller". Archived from the original on July 2, 2013. Retrieved June 30, 2013.
  20. ^ "Antonio Esfandiari's profile on The Hendon Mob". The Hendon Mob Poker Database. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  21. ^ "Antonio Esfandiari - DYF033 - United States". The Official Global Poker Index. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  22. ^ Holloway, Chad (January 10, 2016). "2016 PCA Main Event Day 2: Leonardo Pires Leads Final 195, Antonio Esfandiari DQ'd". PokerNews. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  23. ^ O’Callaghan, Dan (September 9, 2022). "Antonio Esfandiari Works His Magic as Poker Player and Crazy Prop Bettor!". 888 Poker Online. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  24. ^ "Antonio Esfandiari". IMDb. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  25. ^ Holloway, Chad (March 5, 2014). "Antonio Esfandiari Stars in Six-Part "Strip Magic" Web Series". Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  26. ^ "Strip Magic - Episode 1 - Ultimate Poker". March 5, 2014. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  27. ^ Gibson, Sean (September 8, 2014). "Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Laak to Star in Underground Poker". Retrieved August 8, 2017.

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