Antonio Esfandiari, aka “the Magician,” is a professional poker player that was born in Tehran, Iran on December 8, 1978 with the name of Amir Esfandiari. When Antonio Esfandiari was only nine years old, he moved to California, and had his name changed from Amir to Anthony. This name-change was due to his classmates making jokes about Antonio’s former name. Antonio changed his name again when he turned 19 years old, this time from Anthony to Antonio.
Antonio Esfandiari earned his moniker of “The Magician” because he dropped out of college to pursue his dream of becoming a professional magician. After one of Antonio Esfandiari’s magic performances, he was invited to a poker game, which is where his poker career began.
Antonio Esfandiari’s first poker tournament cost him $30 to enter, which he went on to win. Winning this poker tournament was a good omen for the rest of his poker career. In 2004, Antonio Esfandiari became the youngest poker player ever to win a payday of more than one million dollars ($1,000,000) when he won L.A. Poker Classic Main Event. Antonio quickly became a poker star, and went on to win his first WSOP bracelet in the 2004 WSOP $2,000 Pot Limit Holdem poker tournament. At the time of his win, Esfandiari was the youngest WPT title holder.
Antonio Esfandiari wrote a poker book named World Poker Tour: In the Money. Surprisingly, this poker book is not about his play during the World Poker Tour, nor is it about poker tournament strategy. Instead, Antonio Esfandiari’s poker book focuses on becoming a better cash game poker player. Fun Energy Foods Inc. has made a “poker food,” known as Kickbutt Amped Energy Ballz, which Antonio Esfandiari has proudly endorsed, testifying that the food is great and provides needed energy during long poker tournaments.
Antonio Esfandiari has other ambitions, which include being part of a family, and owning a restaurant. At one time, Antonio spoke about how he almost decided to go to culinary school instead of playing poker. He is also very close friends, and neighbors, with professional poker player Phil Laak. Antonio and Phil can be frequently found hanging out with each other in Las Vegas. Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Laak created a TV show, I Bet You, which aired on The Mojo for two seasons.
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.