Ten Questions with Antonio Esfandiari

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 /

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