Esfandiari (born Amir Esfandiari, December 8, 1978 in Tehran, Iran) is a professional poker player. When he was 9 years old his family moved to San Jose, California.
At the age of 19, he changed his name to Antonio which was adopted from living in a Mexican American community in San Jose, and became a professional magician. While he was performing magic, he was invited to a game of Texas Hold ‘em and started to play poker. In 2004, he won close to $1.4 million at the Commerce Casino. He won his first World Series of Poker bracelet a few months later in Pot-Limit Texas Hold ‘em.
Just as Esfandiari was getting into high-stakes poker he met a fellow player by the name of Phil Laak. They were sharing a table at the WSOP and Esfandiari was wowing the other players with his magic tricks. Laak was actually trying to figure the tricks out and this irked Esfandiari. Esfandiari moved to another table but Laak followed him there as well. Eventually they started talking and became quick friends.
Laak, who is also known as the Unabomber, ended up coming out to the Bay Area to visit Esfandiari and by the time he left they had agreed to share a place. Ironically both players would go on to attain fame on the poker circuit.
Esfandiari appeared in the second and third seasons of the Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament. After finishing dead last the previous year, Antonio was able to redeem himself with an impressive 2nd place finish the third season. He was also in the first four seasons of GSN series High Stakes Poker and each season of NBC Poker After Dark.
Known for his flashy lifestyle and fantastic chip tricks, the “Magician” will probably be dazzling competitors and railbirds for years to come, whether with his card-playing ability or his magic tricks.
As of 2008, his total live tournament winnings exceed $3,000,000.