WPT Title Grabs By The Magician

Friday, December 10, 2010

One of poker's most interesting top poker players, Antonio Esfandiari, formerly a profession magician, is a bona fide superstar in the card-playing community. Poker pro Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari was able to comeback from a short-stack to beat out a tough field of poker pros at the final table and win the coveted title – his second WPT win.

The Magician entered the final day in fifth out of 6th place with nearly a third of the chips possessed by chip-leader Vanessa Rousso. However, Esfandiari was able to regain the form that had him near the top of the leader-board since Day 1 of the tournament, before nearly being eliminated with about 10 players remaining.

The final table for the WPT Five Diamonds will likely go down as one of the strongest in poker history featuring six talented professional players. In the end it was Esfandiari who would hold his hands up in victory, and pocket the $870,000 that was awarded to the winner of the tournament.

For the best poker player Antonio Esfandiari this was his first big win in tournament poker since way back in 2004 when he burst onto the poker scene by winning the WPT LA Poker Classic. Since then Antonio Esfandiari has added a WSOP bracelet to his resume, but all-in-all he has experienced little success in poker tournaments over the years –he is one of poker's top cash-game players though.

During the final day of the tournament it looked as if Andrew Robl would roll to the title as he was well over 9 million in chips when play was 4-handed. But as the day wore on Esfandiari was able to whittle away at Andrew Robl's chip-lead, and eventually wore the young poker pro down and busting him in 2nd place. For Andrew Robl , the $550k marks the biggest cash of his career and sends him well over the $1 million mark in career tournament earnings.

Here is look at how the final table finished in the 2010 WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamonds Poker Classic:

1. Antonio Esfandiari ($870,124)
2. Andrew Robl ($549,003)
3. Vanessa Rousso ($358,964)
4. John Racener ($232,271)
5. Kirk Morrison ($168,924)
6. Ted Lawson ($126,693)

After the tournament Esfandiari –who calls himself the best Day 1 tournament poker player on the tour– told reporters, “It was legendary…It was tough. It was fun. It was exciting. It was all of the above and I’m so glad to come out ahead.” The win gives Antonio a career total of around $4.5 million in tournament winnings.

About Antonio Esfandiari: Originally from Tehran, Iran, Esfandiari moved to the United States with his parents in 1988. Esfandiari knew very little English when he started school in his new home but learned the language in less than six months.

One of poker's most interesting players, Antonio Esfandiari, formerly a profession magician, is a bona fide superstar in the card-playing community. It was while Esfandiari was waiting tables that he got his first taste of magic. Between tables Esfandiari saw the bartender perform a magic trick. He was so impressed he went straight to the nearest magic shop and asked how the trick was done.

The store owner quickly showed Esfandiari the method behind the trick. Esfandiari began throwing magic into his waitering gig, performing for tips, and eventually dropped the waitering part altogether. "Magic Antonio" was able to pull in $300 to $400 an hour just doing magic.

At that time Antonio Esfandiari had a roommate who was a professional poker player. One day, at his roommate's suggestion, Antonio Esfandiari tried his hand at poker. Despite technically being too young to play he found a way to win money in the first tournament he entered. Esfandiari was hooked and soon, in addition to making rabbits disappear as a magician, he was making other people's money disappear as a poker player.

In 2002, a poker pro Antonio Esfandiar made a name for himself at the WPT 49'er Gold Rush Bonanza by getting under Phil Hellmuth's skin and eventually placing third for $44,000. It was the first major tournament win for Esfandiari, but more were soon to come. A year later he made the final table of the $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em tournament at the 2003 WSOP.

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