Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari was born in Tehran, Iran on December 8, 1978 with the name of Amir Esfandiari. When Antonio was only nine years old, he moved to California, and Antonio’s name was changed from Amir to Anthony, due to other students at his school making jokes about his name. He had his name changed again when he turned 19, this time from Anthony to Antonio. Antonio earned his moniker of “The Magician” because he dropped out of college to pursue his dreams of exploring the art of magic as a profession. After one of his performances, The Magician was invited to a poker game, and that is where his poker career began.
Antonio Esfandiari’s first tournament cost him $30 to enter, which he went on to win. This was a good omen for the rest of his poker career. In 2004 he became the youngest player ever to win a payday of more than a million dollars when he won the main event in the L.A. Poker Classic. Antonio quickly became a star, and went on to win a bracelet in the 2004 WSOP, being the sole survivor in the $2,000 Pot Limit Holdem tournament. At the time of his win, Esfandiari was younger than all other WPT title holders.
Antonio Esfandiari has written a poker book, entitled World Poker Tour: In the Money. Surprisingly, this book is not about either his play during the World Poker Tour or poker tournament strategy. Instead, Antonio’s book focuses on becoming a better cash game player. Fun Energy Foods Inc. has made a “poker food,” known as kickbutt amped energy ballz. Antonio proudly endorses the product, testifying that they are great for the poker table, providing some needed energy during those long hours.
Antonio Esfandiari does have other ambitions. He wants to be part of a family, and also wants to own a restaurant. It has been reported that Antonio has been talking about how he almost decided on going to culinary school instead of playing poker online. He is also very close friends with professional poker player Phil Laak, and the two can be frequently found hanging out with each other in Las Vegas. Not only are they close friends, but Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Laak are also neighbors in the Panorama Towers high-rise community.
Antonio Esfandiari was formally a member of Team UB, Ultimate Bet’s team of poker pros. He has since been a pro for Dan Fleyshman’s Victory Poker, but became a free agent until April of 2013, where he made the decision to be the poker ambassador for Ultimate Poker.