One of the more persistent faces during the poker boom has been Antonio Esfandiari. Recognizable for his shirts, his various tournament successes and his entertaining pal-arounding with Phil Laak, the Iranian-born poker pro has most recently been in the headlines due to his signing with Victory Poker.
Antonio was nice enough to answer a few questions via email about the WPT, his deal with Victory and his thoughts on the modern tournament circuit.
PTP: It’s been a while since you had a permanent home as a sponsored player. Talk a bit about the life of a free agent and what motivated you to sign on with Victory?
AE: It’s nice to not have any commitments but on the flip side id much rather have a deal than not – however I am not one to settle – I’ve always said I don’t want to be with a site where I am just another guy on a list of many – that’s why UB made sense followed by WPT where I was the only one – I signed with victory because it was the right fit – I love the guys on the team they are all my friends and the guys running the company know what they are doing. + I’m there main guy moving forward and that makes a difference to me.
PTP: You’ve been one of the steadiest faces on High Stakes Poker. How do you feel about Season 6? How much has the show changed for you since the early seasons?
AE: HSP is still the best poker show on TV. Hands down. I feel as the game has gotten a lot tougher. People just got better at the game. I’d still love to play the game everyday but unfortunately for me I only get to play once every 365 days. Pretty sure I’m one of less than a handful of guys that has never missed a season.
PTP: What else are you working on besides Victory and poker?
AE: When I signed with victory we were under the agreement that I would put most of my energy on this project. Victory is where my heart is. Hence most of my time and energy will be spent on it.
PTP: You mentioned a life coach during WSOP 09 coverage – is that something you’re still working with?
AE: Sam Chauhan was my life coach. He helped me get that hunger to win back. We have recently parted ways – not for any other reason than that its time for me to do it on my own. I learned a lot from him and am looking forward to working with him on victory he is a part of team victory.
PTP: Any ideas on how poker players in a slightly lower bankroll bracket can accrue some of the advantages that come with such a coach without the heavy cost?
AE: I wouldn’t know anything about that = my life coach helped me with life hence helping me in poker – he never taught me about poker itself. And no he wasn’t cheap but he was worth it!
PTP: Any recent crazy prop bets or funny stories from the Laak / Esfandiari consortium our members might enjoy?
AE: Sorel Mizzi and I made a pretty funny weight bet – I bet him 30k that he will weigh more in 10 years that he does today
PTP: The live tournament circuit is really expanding, at least in a global sense. What’s your favorite international stop for tournament play?
AE: My favorite international tournament is probably the WSOPE just because it is so prestigious – however purely from the heart id have to say EPT Barcelona – I looove Barcelona.
PTP: How about your favorite stop in the US?
AE: US – either commerce or bay 101. I love the shooting star tournament at the bay 101 and commerce is where the heart is.
PTP: You worked closely with the WPT for a bit. What do you think (if anything) needs to be done to return that tour to the prominence it once enjoyed?
AE: I plead the 5th on this one
PTP: Victory is entering a pretty crowded market. Besides an impressive roster of sponsored pros, what’s the appeal to players who already have their bankrolls spread across several sites?
AE: Victory is unique in a sense. The players on our site tend to give a LOT of action. I think the games are a lot softer on the network. The software is fantastic and we have the best in rakeback programs out there.
Photos by flipchip / LasVegasVegas.com
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