Posts Tagged ‘Antonio Esfandiari’

Random Notes from WPT Invitational Cocktail Party

by , Mar 1, 2009 | 7:48 pm

With a cold coming on, I juiced up on cold medicine and headed down to Commerce Casino last night for the pre-tournament WPT Invitational cocktail party. In more of a stuffy-headed fog now, I give you a few observations from the festivities:

William Hung was the first “celebrity” I noticed, as he arrived as soon as the red carpet was ready for action. And the poor guy was the only one from the red carpet featured by Perez Hilton today, and not featured in a particularly good way.

Food was excellent as usual, with a random assortment of Asian and Greek set-ups, along with the yum-yum appetizers floating around the room on waiters’ trays.

No DJ in the outdoor area like last year’s event, but it actually made for a more conversation-friendly atmosphere on the patio.

Wicked Chops scored seats in the tournament. I spent way too much time trying to figure out how that happened.

Reports of the demise of the Phil Laak/Jennifer Tilly relationship were evidently untrue, as the two looked typically couple-y as usual – Jennifer in a beautiful outfit, Phil in saggy jeans and a hoodie.

Some celebrities on the “confirmed” list were no-shows, such as Camryn Manheim, Montel Williams, and Nelly. (Yes, I was more than disappointed about one of those absences!)

CORRECTION: Manheim was there, and Jen was still disappointed. -DM

Shannon Elizabeth and Derek Hough are still a couple and just as adorable as ever, with Shannon checking on Derek and his amateur poker experiences throughout the evening.

Contrary to all reports from the tournament, Antonio Esfandiari was not the first person eliminated from the tournament, as Mike “SirWatts” Watson (former WPT champion) was out of the tournament and standing with us at the bar when that announcement was made. Ouch.

New to my social radar were Mike Watson and Shane Schleger, both of whom were introduced to me by Gavin Griffin and Kristin Roberts and very nice to chat with.

Also met Jamie Gold for the first time, who was extremely friendly and psyched about his Aced Poker affiliation, though my question about his possible ownership in the company was met with the standard “details of the contract cannot be disclosed” line. Good brief chat anyway. (His calling card gives him the title “Poker Philanthropist.”)

Mekhi Phifer
took the reigns during the rebuy period, grabbing the mic and encouraging players to rebuy (or even just donate) to his charity, The Vine Group, to help educational efforts in Africa. He was a great spokesperson for the organization and raised $78,270 for it, while managing to maintain his usual humble but outrageously sexy demeanor.

More Blogging About High Stakes Poker

by , Dec 22, 2008 | 11:22 am

More from HSP, after you read about the WPT airing on Fox Sports Net starting January 4.

I’ve never heard of Lee Russakoff until this morning, but apparently he’s sports editor over at Lee was also at the High Stakes Poker tapings at the Golden Nugget this weekend, and has 5 posts on his blog about the various goings on that should make for interesting watching when GSN starts to air High Stakes Poker on March 1.


Cirque du Poker?

by , Jul 21, 2008 | 1:22 pm

The poker shark just can’t seem to be jumped. While I don’t expect to see All In: The Musical on broadway any time soon, apparently some people believe that poker players actually go see shows, or at least that they are more likely to if the show is about poker. The Real Deal is gonna be part poker theatre, part poker tourney, part poker game show, with audience members interacting with various pros on stage via wi-fi at The Venetian. Poker thespians will include Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Jr., Antonio Esfandiari, Gavin Smith, Eli Elezra, Jennifer Harman, Phil Laak, Scotty Nguyen, and Todd Brunson — guess they’ve got nothing better to do with High Stakes Poker gone — and surely it is only a matter of time before Hellmuth wins a Tony and/or The Producers will be brought to you by No word on whether or not they plan to add hypnosis to the mix (“I will find inner peace and fold these pocket 10s”), but just to let the poker entertainmentpreneurs out there know, poker still has yet to be translated into any of the following:

Poker: the Topless Revue
Poker: the Pool
Poker: the Mechanical Bull Ride
Poker: the Buffet
Poker: the Surgery

Who says there still isn’t room for growth in this industry? Click below to read the full press release, and for more info about a show that will be sure to dazzle us in frightening ways before the end of the year:


(Way) Outside the WSOP – (Main Event Day 1d Evening Update)

by , Jul 6, 2008 | 7:58 pm

Registration is finally over for the Main Event, and a record 2,461 took to the felt today in their quest to be part of the November Nine and take down the over $9.1m first place prize. Among those who’ve already been eliminated today: Phil Ivey, Jennifer Tilly, Andy Bloch, Jose Canseco, Annie Duke, Allen Kessler, David Williams and Noel Furlong. The leader at the dinner break appears to be Brad Tisdale with about 112,000 in chips. Notables towards the top of the leaderboard: Victor Ramdin, Thomas “Thunder” Keller, Aaron Kanter, Jean-Robert Bellande, Brandon Cantu, Mark Newhouse and Antonio Esfandiari. You can follow the players as they return from their dinner break at the site here.

More updates later this evening…

Bellagio Break From the WSOP

Cash Game Mecca Alive and Well

by , Jun 24, 2008 | 2:18 am

It is common knowledge that poker players in Las Vegas flock to Bellagio for cash game action, primarily on the higher end of the buy-in scale. While there seem to be a plethora of cash games going on at the Rio around the clock during the WSOP, anyone looking for games higher than $10-$20 usually heads over to Bellagio. Since I am such a high-stakes player can always use a change of scenery from the Rio, I took a trip on over on Monday night around 10pm to see what was happenin’.



Re: Magic in Monte Carlo (Not So Much)

by , Apr 18, 2008 | 10:38 am

The EPT Grand Final came to a long drawn-out end yesterday in Monte Carlo, and after nearly 13 hours of play, Canadian Glen Chorny took it down. Ho hum. It may be the least exciting victory in recent tournament times, as Chorny couldn’t even manage a smile in the victory interview and didn’t seem to care that he just won $3.2 million. Reportedly, he smiled later, long after I lost interest.

Antonio Esfandiari made himself disappear in 8th place, with a little help from Luca Pagano, but received $266,004 for a grand showing. Luca then went out in 6th for $533,601 and his ninth EPT cash. And Isaac Baron left in fourth place for $932,692.

All of the final ten payouts, courtesy of PokerNews, are as follows:

1 $ 3,198,500 Glen Chorny
2 $ 1,866,790 Denes Kalo
3 $ 1,132,107 Maxime Villemure
4 $ 932,692 Isaac Baron
5 $ 666,606 Michael Martin
6 $ 533,601 Luca Pagano
7 $ 400,590 Valeriy Ilikyan
8 $ 266,004 Antonio Esfandiari
9 $ 199,533 Henrik Gwinner
10 $ 199,533 Stig Top Rasmussen

In other EPT news, Kara Scott may be the best hostess/interviewer on any poker tour. I took some time to listen to some of the EPT final table broadcast, and when she sat in, I was so impressed with the intelligent and witty commentary. Most of all, she seems to truly understand how to interview poker players without being insensitive or oblivious to their experiences. Here is her interview with Isaac Baron upon his exit yesterday:

Magic in Monte Carlo

by , Apr 16, 2008 | 6:40 pm

The European Poker Tour (EPT) Grand Final just concluded its fourth day of action, and out of an amazing 842 players, only 10 remain.

Glen Chorny – 3,370,000
Isaac ‘westmenloAA’ Baron – 2,365,000
Michael Martin – 1,579,000
Maxime Villemure – 1,220,000
Denes Kalo – 957,000
Antonio Esfandiari – 735,000
Luca Pagano – 705,000
Valeriy Ilikyan – 650,000
Stig Top Rasmussen – 590,000
Henrik Gwinner – 466,000

Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari is doing quite well, and this comes on the heels of his recent sponsorship deal with the World Poker Tour. The WPT Poker-Made Millionaire is representin’ over in Europe!

Isaac Baron is reportedly one of the most respected online players in the game and has been doing relatively well on the live tournament circuit.

The only other name I recognize is Luca Pagano – PokerStars player and Italian guy. Be still my part-Italian heart.

First place will get nearly $3.2 million. Wheee! (Note to the eventual winner: Can I borrow a few bucks?) Live updates can be found at PokerNews and PokerListings.

Movie Review: The Grand

by , Mar 29, 2008 | 8:47 pm

The GrandRating: A-

This is one of the best comedies I’ve seen in a long time. I laughed myself to tears during several parts of the movie. I walked into the theater with low expectations and left thinking about seeing it again.

The casting was brilliant, as many of the actors are experienced improv comics and had no problem adding their own flavor and likely varying quite a bit from the original script. From Woody Harrelson to Ray Romano, from Richard Kind to Dennis Farina, and from David Cross to Chris Parnell, most everyone took their characters to the highest level. Even Cheryl Hines surprised me – only because I’m not terribly familiar with her work – in her deadpan scenes.

Numerous poker players were strewn throughout the film, like Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Laak, and Antonio Esfandiari. Gabe Kaplan had a main role, which wasn’t tremendously impressive but an integral and sometimes funny role nonetheless. Phil Gordon played a recurring role throughout the movie as the tournament commentator, and he was fantastic. Some of his lines were the best of the movie.


LAPC Notes

by , Feb 25, 2008 | 9:00 pm

As the players on Day 3 of the L.A. Poker Classic approach the money bubble, there are still some very well-known players atop the leader board – Phil Ivey and David Singer. Jennifer Tilly doubled up through Humberto Brenes and is doing well. Alan Goehring, former LAPC champion, is hanging on to make a run at another title.

Sadly, however, Antonio Esfandiari seemed to be on a bad run this evening, then took a hit from Kyle Burnside, and just got eliminated. He’s had a great week with the announcement of his partnership with WPT, but a shot at a second WPT LAPC title would have been icing on the cake. It wasn’t meant to be, but there’s the NBC Heads-Up in a few days, along with the WPT Invitational next weekend. Momentum could take him far if he lets it.

Click below for some semi-gossip-y notes:


RE: Can Antonio Save the WPT?

by , Feb 22, 2008 | 8:14 pm

Antonio at the WPT press conference

Antonio at the WPT press conference

A few impressions from the press conference with Antonio Esfandiari and Steve Lipscomb:

~Antonio is immensely happy about this deal. He has a deep respect and fondness for the WPT. Though he was being cool, as always, he was close to just bubbling over.

~Antonio is going to be representing the WPT on television, in advertising, with Club WPT, and with anything they do in the global market, including WPT Online.

~Steve seems to have a lot of respect for Antonio as well. He feels that Antonio represents players from every background and culture, but he is one of the classy players who doesn’t insult others, has an incredible passion for the game, and will represent the WPT well. Steve mentioned more than once that when Antonio won his WPT title, he went straight to his dad’s place to surprise him with a huge chunk of $$$ and told him to retire; he was particularly struck by that.

And click below for a few quotes from today’s conference:


Can Antonio Esfandiari Save the WPT?

by , | 5:35 pm

That’s what it seems like they’re banking on — you know, along with restructuring tournament operations and slimming down staff. Steve Lipscomb just announced today at a press conference (at the Commerce in LA?) that Antonio the WPT-Made Millionaire will be the new face of the World Poker Tour.

And despite the reduced schedule, the WPT also apparently has a WPT-Europe in the works. Should be interesting to see how this all shakes out over the course of 2008. My prediction is that the WPT will, several years from now, be seen as the AFL* of Poker.

* And by AFL I mean American Football League, not the other AFL that looks out for the hard-workin’ little guy.

“I Bet You” Gets More MOJO

by , Nov 4, 2007 | 11:44 am

Those who have HDTV might be familiar with a show that debuted this year on the MOJO network called “I Bet You.” It’s a 30-minute show featuring Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Laak as they travel around the country and bet on everything. Prop betting gone wild, if you will.

This is a clip from one of last season’s shows:

The show has been renewed for a second season that is currently filming and will be ready for air in early 2008. Antonio discusses many of the bets on his blog.

I talked to Antonio recently for an article to be published in the current issue of All In magazine, and he absolutely loves doing the show. “We bet on everything,” he told me. “I would say that on a daily basis, Phil and I make at least three or four bets in the course of our normal lives.”

There are some clips on the network’s website, and if you have HDTV, the show seems worth a TiVo or DVR setting.

On another note, I was also able to get him to confirm that he had no relations with Pamela Anderson, though we now know that it was indeed Rick Salomon that she did to get out of a poker debt fell in love with and married.

Hollywood Juice

by , Sep 15, 2007 | 3:17 pm

Living and working in Los Angeles, just a few miles of nightmarish traffic away from Hollywood, it’s not difficult to keep up with tabloid journalism news of the rich and famous. And as they make poker news, this reporter is right there to help spread rumors and inconsequential news. You’re welcome.

Let’s start with MTV’s Video Music Awards that took place in Las Vegas last weekend. Sure, the important news was Brittany Spears and her, ummm, interesting performance at the show. But I’m here to give you the poker-related info.

Rolling Stone magazine took the opportunity of the celebrity mecca to Vegas to celebrate their 40th anniversary with parties and the obligatory charity poker tournament. Nowhere could it be determined what charity was benefiting from the event, nor what the buy-in was. It was confirmed that there were 15 tables that played out on Saturday, September 8, and some of the participants included Nelly, Kevin Smith, Joe Simpson, Brody Jenner, Cee-Lo, Ryan Cabrera, John Salley, and Vince Neil.

NellyThe winner? Rap superstar Nelly. At the WSOP, he played the $10k main event and donked off his chips in less than two hours. At this charity tournament, he outplayed a bunch of celebrities and won the thing. The best news was that he donated all of his prize money to charity.

How did Nelly go from donkey-status to semi-average poker player? Evidently, he’s been dropping in on home games with Phil Laak and Antonio Esfandiari. Homeboy seems to be serious about being a playa.

Pamela AndersonOther news at the VMA’s included the high school man-to-man fight between Kid Rock and Tommy Lee over Pamela Anderson, going forward to be referred to as Pammie. (Not that she and I are gal pals, but I like men to think so.) While the boys are fighting over her, she claims to be in love with a pro poker player. She refused to name the person to any source, even Ellen DeGeneres, but reportedly told one source that she was down several hundred thousand dollars in a poker game, and the player offered to take care of it in return for, ummm, take a guess. “I paid off a poker debt with sexual favors,” she said, “and fell in love. He took advantage of me… He’s a good guy.” And on the Ellen show, she confirmed that much and concluded with, “It’s so romantic. It’s romance.”


Pamela Anderson with Rick Solomon & friendThe tabloids have put her statements together with some recent sightings of Pammie and Rick Salomon, infamous Paris Hilton sex tape entrepreneur, on a Malibu beach on Labor Day weekend, so rumors are running rampant that Rick is that poker player. Here’s a tip for Pammie and everyone else: Rick Salomon is not a professional poker player. Trust us.

But the Pammie rumor mill is not out of juice yet. According to the Las Vegas Magazine blog site, insiders are saying that Pammie’s new boyfriend is actually poker pro Antonio Esfandiari. Voila! That would be magical, wouldn’t you agree?

Antonio EsfandiariSpeaking of Antonio, he’s made the tabloids lately with his recent Cristal-off. He was reportedly at the new nightclub Blush at the Wynn on the Vegas Strip, and he and NBA pro Kobe Bryant were each trying to buy more Cristal champagne than the other. Kobe ordered approximately 15 bottles – cheapskate! Not to be outdone, Antonio ended up ordering 26 bottles and spent nearly $35k for one night out. Then he told TMZ about it. Nice hand, sir.

Bad bet

by , May 10, 2007 | 3:19 pm

Has anyone seen this? For those of you who don’t have the INHD channel (which, sadly, doesn’t feature any Robert Wilsonky programming), Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Laak have a new show oh-so-cleverly called I Bet You.

The premise is exactly what you’d expect: They walk around betting thousands of dollars on completely inane bullshit. They bet on how much a shirt costs. They bet on whether a girl they meet on the street is wearing a thong or “regular panties.” They bet on who can be the best bartender and, later, who can get drunk and blow closest to .08 on a breathalyzer. All of which should provide for fun, rollicking scenes complete with plenty of spontaneous comedy. Instead, sitting through the half-hour show is like listening to Jamie Gold—it’s painful, and you don’t really want to do it, but you’re sure it’ll get better eventually so you stick it out. But it doesn’t get better. Trust me.


High Stakes Hammer

by , Mar 14, 2007 | 5:47 am

It’s getting pretty clear that finally, in 2007, the pros are starting to explore the power of the Hammer. You can tell they are still a little tentative with it — and how can you blame them when bricks of money are at stake — but hey, they’ll catch on and figure out the hand’s nuances soon enough.

(Perhaps not coincidentally, I have given up the Hammer for Lent.)

Check it out … on this week’s episode of High Stakes Poker, we get to see both Antonio Esfandiari and Mike Matusow dabbling in the dark arts of 27o. Frankly, neither of the hands are very dramatic … yet both are quite revealing:

ALT HED: Hammer after Dark