Hello everyone! I’m Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari. My first career was as a magician, and then I moved to playing professional poker. I have 2 World Poker championships and 3 World Series of Poker bracelets, plus $26 million in lifetime winnings including the largest cash prize in the history of poker of $18 million. I'm also excited to have my poker playing and my life profiled in my very own episode of "Pokerography" which will premiere on Poker Central TV on Sunday, November 29th at 8 PM EST.

Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEom7lXs5GY

Where to watch Poker Central: https://www.pokercentral.com/find-us

Proof: https://twitter.com/MagicAntonio/status/666750184311816196

I’ll be getting started at 9 PM EST. Ask away!

EDIT: I'm done for the night. Thanks for all of the questions. Be sure to tune in to Pokerography this Sunday at 8 PM EST.

Comments: 374 • Responses: 72  • Date: 

DatGrag47 karma

You have to pick one player in the world to play in a deepstack NLH tournament with the top 200 other players in the world. If your player loses, the Earth will explode immediately. Neither the player you choose nor any of the other players know this.

Who do you choose?

PS: I fucking love you man

MagicAntonio76 karma


BobbyQuarters105 karma

I don't believe this for a second

MagicAntonio189 karma

Nice read

MagicAntonio89 karma

ok I was bluffing

Niklas Heinecker. He's a boss.

MagicAntonio41 karma

Question for the group: What should I order for dinner?

Gaping_Ass_Wound28 karma


MagicAntonio19 karma

I'm not in the TV show making business, but if someone comes to us and wants to make a show, we're all for it

Silos91127 karma

Hey, I'm a fan who just recently started getting into poker. Just a few questions.

  1. When did you start feeling confident enough in your career to start calling out opponent hands when they shove? I've seen it happen a few times on recording, and it blows me away each time. Also how often are you completely wrong when you say something and they just edit it out?

  2. Any other casino games, general card games, or I guess just games in general you like to play? I know a bunch of poker players have been getting a bit into Hearthstone, anything like that appeal to you?

  3. What is your favorite part of the game? Is it analyzing opponents, bluffing, the intensity of the river card, something else?

Thanks for your time, I look forward to your episode on Sunday.

MagicAntonio27 karma

1) They never edit me because all of the commentary that I have done is live and when I think somebody has something or is going to act I just say what I think. Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong.

2) Nada.

3) I love the pain. In addition to that, I enjoy watching how people react to winning or losing.

izequel26 karma

What are your net poker winnings over your lifetime?

MagicAntonio17 karma

I'm not sure you'll have to ask my CPA

the_vadernader26 karma

Have you ever considered trying to live-stream on Twitch before? There are a lot of people who would love to watch.

MagicAntonio22 karma

Yes, the idea has crossed my mind, but right now it's not on the top of my priority list.

Panda41326 karma

What is the lowest stakes live cash game you have played at a casino poker room in the last year?

MagicAntonio61 karma

$1-$2 NL...I go to play with my dad every once in a while

GreenMilkshake21 karma

I thought you were great casting the WSOP ME final table. What did you think of it?

Do you think delaying the final table to November is a good or bad idea?

MagicAntonio19 karma

I thought it was a pretty simple final table. I didn't like my commentary on day 1, but I thought I did well day 2 and day 3.

Yes, I love the delay. I love the build up. It's like foreplay.

Lameth0115 karma

Favorite prop bet you've won?

MagicAntonio47 karma

Who could take two ambiens and stay up longer, me vs Phil on "I Bet You"

Frajer12 karma

What's your biggest loss or win in a single game?

MagicAntonio-9 karma

I've had some really bad days and some really good days. I'd rather not share those numbers with the world. My apologies.

GentlemenBehold8 karma

When are you going to transition to daily fantasy sports?

MagicAntonio9 karma

I would bet the under. I'm not a big sports guy.

gvsulaker827 karma

What was your opinion on Justin Schwartz in the main event? What player do you think.has the worst poker etiquette?

MagicAntonio31 karma

I believe you answered the question yourself...

whatdyamean7 karma

What is your biggest loss in poker? Financially or, you know, body parts etc.

MagicAntonio34 karma

Don Cheadle and I played a heads up match where if I lost, I had to do a full blown magic show at his house in a top hat for him and his guests. If I won, he had to come over and cook for me and up to 25 of my guests in a chef's apron. Of course I lost, and now I owe him a magic show.

spicypepperoni7 karma

What car do you drive? And is it as much fun as it seems to troll Hellmuth?

MagicAntonio20 karma

I drive a Navigator. Nothing fancy.

Yes, it's really fun to pick on Hellmuth because he's such an easy target.

desantoos7 karma

I thought your commentary for the Main Event final table was outstanding. From watching that program it seemed like the biggest problem you and Norman Chad had about poker these days are the young kids tanking... taking forever to make a decision to make a hand. What's the best fix for this situation?

I also think that it'd be nice, as a spectator, if sunglasses and hoodies were banned so that we the audience can try to read along the opponents. From what I've read it sounds like a few of the other major poker stars are against it but I wonder where you stand on it.

Finally, seems like you are a bit riskier at the table than the people who make the November 9. Perhaps more aggression works well for events that aren't 6000+ people, but I have to wonder if you think that ultraconservative play is what will dominate poker events with large fields. That final table seemed very tight. Will we see a shift or is that style inherently what gets you to the final table?

MagicAntonio15 karma

The best fix is a shot clock much like they had in the Super High Roller Bowl. My stance is to ban anything that hides you. All for it. The Super High Roller Bowl banned hoodies and sunglasses as well.

It's been proven time and time again that aggressive poker is the way to go. I don't expect to see people tighten up.

srslolol6 karma

Hey Antonio, huge fan. Watching you on Poker After Dark back in the day really sparked my interest in the game. I just recently got back into online poker a few months ago and have been doing some decent grinding.

Last week I joined my first live poker tournament at my local casino and was incredibly nervous and intimidated and eventually busted.

I plan on joining another one next week and was wondering if you had any tips for first time live players?

MagicAntonio12 karma

Be social at the table and make it a fun atmosphere. It will be a benefit to your game.

stonemender5 karma

If you could hang out with other poker pros Who would it be(Phil Laak excluded) and what would you do(other than play poker)?

MagicAntonio5 karma

I would want to hang out with the people who are my friends in the poker world. We would do fun things just like any other group of friends. Burning Man, travel, party, go to a movie, eat, etc.

Martinichoco4 karma

What is a typical day in the life of a Poker professional like? -What kinds of problems do you deal with? – What kinds of decisions do you make?

MagicAntonio6 karma

I wake up, work out, spend about 2 hours on emails and other work-related things at my desk, I eat, then I exist.

Everyone has problems, and I deal with them to the best of my abilities. I'm human just like anyone else.

anoutchine4 karma

who do you consider the best poker player today? Toughest player you ever faced? Sexiest player you ever faces?

MagicAntonio15 karma

Best and toughest: Brian Rast

I can't think of the sexiest. Poker isn't really a sexy sport.

everton953 karma

I guess high stakes home games can be a bit risky and dangerous sometimes if you're in touch with some wrong people. What is your worst home game experience?

PS: I'm a big fan of you as a person and poker player and I hope you'll eventually run good against Phil Laak at some point in your life ;)

MagicAntonio17 karma

I got cheated once in a mafia game. I paid my loss, never said a word, and never went back.

TheCian973 karma

What was it like winning the Big one for one drop? Edit: Also what is Phil Laak like as a roommate?

MagicAntonio8 karma

I mean how do I describe what it was like, it was awesome. I wish there a way to go back to have that feeling again. It's the ultimate high that I don't know if I'll ever get back. It's incredible obviously.

Phil Laak is one interesting character...he's great, he's fun, he's always up for hanging out or gambling or whatever.

DatGrag8 karma

Did you have 100% of yourself in the 1drop?

MagicAntonio20 karma

I did not. I had somewhere between 1% and 99%.

BobbyQuarters3 karma

Who's the best celebrity you've seen play poker?

MagicAntonio5 karma

Tobey Maguire


Poker has changed a lot in the recent years, in what way do you think poker will change the coming years? Will we see a new "poker boom" with the the legal online poker in the US, what is your insight on this? And also, if you get to choose anyone in the world (both dead or alive) for a nine player live session, who would you choose?

Also love you dude, I am a big big fan and love what you have done for the game! I wish you the best in the future, hopefully we'll get to play one day!

MagicAntonio10 karma

Nine handed live session: 1) Bill Clinton 2) Eminem 3) Barack Obama 4) William Rehnquist 5) Sam Harris 6) Bill Perkins (we need a fish) 7) Clive Owen 8) Angelina Jolie

Poker in the coming years depends on regulation. If it opens up, we'll see a boom. If not, we won't.

iqp3 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! You're one of my favorite personalities in poker, and your commentary on hands for WSOP was especially enjoyable.

My question is two-part and somewhat related:

1) What percentage of pro/semi-pro poker players do you think are actually making (decent) money on poker alone (i.e., not through endorsements or other sources)? It seems like poker is at best a zero-sum game but with rakes and fees, it's not even that.

2) Dan Colman got a lot of negative attention for his criticism of the game. What are your thoughts for mere mortals? Is poker better thought of as a hobby, or is it realistic to make a decent living off it?

MagicAntonio4 karma

1) I believe it is very difficult to make a living playing poker these days unless you have access to some pretty sweet private games.

2) I've been making a living doing it for years, so it feels pretty realistic.

Zenthan2 karma

Who is the coolest player out there....someone who just is really hard to rattle. Who pisses ice water?

MagicAntonio7 karma

Scott Seiver. He's pretty tough to crack.

cabluigi2 karma

Was there any stage in your life when you honed your game by grinding online? If not, why not?

MagicAntonio11 karma

No, I was an online fish. Online was just never my thing. I don't like playing when I can't see my opponents.

AlBacon19742 karma

Have you seen Britney Spears' Vegas show yet? And if so how was it?

MagicAntonio2 karma

No I have not

InTupacWeTrust2 karma

What's your beginning poker tips and do you suggest any poker books?

MagicAntonio4 karma

I would suggest just learning off the Internet. There's a lot of great knowledge available.

jackorjoker2 karma

I'm a young magician and amateur poker player and I'm wondering what magician you admire most and why?

MagicAntonio6 karma

Joey Burton, Lee Asher, and Armando

Na7vy2 karma

When did you first start playing poker? Why do you enjoy doing it?

MagicAntonio11 karma

I started playing poker when I was 19 years old. My roommate at the time played semi-pro and he got me into it.

I guess I enjoy the thrill of the highs and lows.

...and the money doesn't hurt

snackies2 karma

Hey antonio, I'm a huge fan. I don't want to sound rude or anything, but have you considered / are you planning on really grinding and working on your game to make a strong run again at some point in the future? Obviously you have new child so it's probably not an ideal time. But most of the poker community, while they have tremendous respect for you, obviously doesn't consider you to be even to be a top level player anymore.

Any plans to change that and show people you can still be a top player?

MagicAntonio12 karma

No offense taken...one day I will learn the game.

MttChlk2 karma

Do you think you'd make a good politician with all the bluffing you do?

MagicAntonio10 karma

I think that one of my strongest traits is people, so I do believe I would be a good politician. Give me the White House.

izequel2 karma

If you could play with anyone from history, who would you pick?

MagicAntonio5 karma

Abraham Lincoln. He was a G.

theunhipster2 karma

What's your favorite place you've visited and why?

MagicAntonio5 karma

Istanbul, Turkey because it's a magical place filled with kind people, really good food, beautiful scenery, and believe it or not some of the best night life I've ever experienced. Also, the fish in Turkey are in a league of their own. ;)

Angoth2 karma

In Dutch Boyd's book, he quoted Phil Laak you as saying to him, "I can't be friends with you. It's negative EV." Is this quote true?

Edit: (above) Apologies to Antonio. It was my error not checking sources before asking.

MagicAntonio2 karma

I'm pretty sure I didn't say that. Dutch and I were never really homies in the first place. He's a nice guy but we were forced into a roommate situation for a couple months against my will.

iknowuknow772 karma

Have you read any poker books? if so which ones?

MagicAntonio7 karma

Super Systems and Winning Low Limit Hold 'em

BobbyQuarters2 karma

Hows Texas Dolly doing?

MagicAntonio3 karma

I don't know. I hope he is well.

BobbyQuarters2 karma

What's your favorite old school poker story?

MagicAntonio6 karma

My favorite times in poker were when Phil and I were drifting around the world before he left me for Jennifer. Going to different tournaments was a blast.

Lameth011 karma

What are your other major passions, other than Poker?

MagicAntonio1 karma

I really enjoy being healthy. I'm pretty passionate about yoga and I'm huge into Burning Man.

Lameth011 karma

Where does your super positive outlook on life come from?

MagicAntonio3 karma

I don't know where it comes from, but at the end of the day, life is the ultimate freeroll. How you live it is your choice and I'd never want to be the guy on my deathbed with any regrets.

NorbitGorbit1 karma

what's the most expensive toothpaste you've used or seen fellow pros use, and if you have the money, why not spring for luxury toothpaste all the time?

MagicAntonio6 karma

That question is a little advanced for me. I don't exactly keep track of other poker pros' toothpaste. I know that Daniel uses vegan toothpaste.

iknowuknow771 karma

In your opinion who is the brightest poker player you have ever played against?

will you teach me poker so i can quit working 8-5?

MagicAntonio2 karma

Seiver and Rast are two of the sharpest guys I know.

ReyzorxXx1 karma

What things would you do differently to learn and improve your game if you could go back in time to mentor yourself when you first were learning the game? If you were starting your poker career today what would you be doing to improve your game? What would you do to acceralate your learning curve? Thank You

MagicAntonio2 karma

I would have definitely learned all of the poker games back in the day and I would have spent much more time at the table versus going out in my 20s. I left a lot of money on the table. But, I have no regrets and life is all about experiences.

I would study a lot off the Internet. I would know the math in and out.

PotHead961 karma

What's the hand that you remember the most? (Be it a hand you won or lost, or one of each if you feel like telling both stories).

MagicAntonio2 karma

The hand I remember most is AK vs the QQ of Guy Laliberte in the One Drop when I hit the King on the turn. The shift in my life just on that one card is pretty significant. Not just on a monetary level either.

hazpat1 karma

When ever someone tells me the total of their winnings, I always have to ask; do you also keep track of losses?

MagicAntonio2 karma

Of course

Bmc001 karma

When amateur players make it far enough in a televised game to start having sponsors on their shirt etc, how exactly does that work? Do the poker sites all just offer him x amount and he picks one?

MagicAntonio1 karma

If they know he's going to be on guaranteed air time, especially on ESPN, they offer certain players certain deals.

everton951 karma

What is the most difficult table you've ever sat down to and did you honestly felt that you had an edge?

MagicAntonio2 karma

One Drop, the year I won, day 1. Ivey, Seidel, Marchese, Ben Lamb, Nick Schulman among others. I never felt like I had an edge. They're all wizards.

BobbyQuarters1 karma

Patriots or Buffalo tonight. Who you got?

You ever bet on sports?

MagicAntonio2 karma

I'm not a big sports better, but if I had to bet, I would bet on the undefeated team

BobbyQuarters1 karma

What are the cash games like in China?

MagicAntonio1 karma

I don't really know. I went to Macau once but didn't really play.

BobbyQuarters1 karma

Whens online poker coming back to the US?

MagicAntonio2 karma

No clue. Write to your senator.

rrankert1 karma

What is the game progression you will teach your son? Your opinion, what's the best first card game at what age?

MagicAntonio1 karma

I really haven't given it much thought. I don't know yet.

Martinichoco1 karma

Were there any specific and major steps along the path to being a successful poker player?

MagicAntonio5 karma

You have to have multiple set of skills, not just playing poker. You have to be leak-free and have great bankroll management.

cobaltcollapse1 karma

How many times have you heard Lady Gaga's Poker Face?

MagicAntonio6 karma

More than once and less than one million

Buttermynuts1 karma

Hey Antonio! Do you think this costume really helped you all that much on the latest episode of Shark Cage?

MagicAntonio2 karma

Sure, whatever makes you happy

I_am_from_England1 karma

Hi Antonio,

Just wondering, what are your best tips for poker? I play occasionally with some pals of mine and I've won 1 out of 5 recently. We all only chuck a tenner in each but still, I want the bragging rights! If it helps, most of them only bet if they've got something.

Thank you!

MagicAntonio12 karma

Always fold when you know you're beat. Money saved is money earned.

BobbyQuarters1 karma

Any poker superstitions?

Any favorite hand?

MagicAntonio6 karma

79 - the Persian carpet ride

No superstitions

theunhipster1 karma

Favorite overall hotel in Vegas? Favorite casino to play poker in Vegas?

MagicAntonio2 karma

Aria and Bellagio are my favorites for both

lmpetus1 karma

seeing as how you seem to enjoy gambling, have you made any trades on the stock market?

MagicAntonio6 karma

Yes, I have some money in stocks but I don't make any decisions on what to buy and what to sell. I let experts do it on my behalf and pay them a tilting commission. If I could go back and do the opposite of every stock tip I've ever gotten, I would be much better off financially.

Martinichoco1 karma

How has your job affected your lifestyle?What special advice do you have for up-and-comers in the poker world?Does your work relate to any experiences or studies you had in college?

MagicAntonio2 karma

I dropped out of college for magic/poker. My lifestyle is a result of what I do for a living.

some-call-me-tim1 karma

Do you feel like your time as a performer improved your ability at the table?

MagicAntonio2 karma

I think there is definitely some correlation, yes

baddozer1 karma

What's your favorite thing to eat during a big tournament?

MagicAntonio7 karma

During the WSOP I go with All American Dave's food because it's tasty and more importantly healthy. But if I order food, I always try to go Thai. Love me some curry.

hurdur11 karma

What do you do during long tournaments, where you're probably sitting down for hours at a time?

Do you ever get that pins-and-needles in your legs (dead legs) when you stand up?

Do you do any circulation exercises?

MagicAntonio4 karma

I'm always up stretching. I can't sit still for the life of me.

gvsulaker821 karma

Hi Antonio huge fan! I totally respect how classy you are at the table. What are your poker goals for 2016 and what poker player do you respect the most?

MagicAntonio3 karma

My plans are to play poker...nothing different than '15 or '14. I do want to learn how to play PL Omaha Hi/Low.

Phil Galfond

jackorjoker1 karma

Do you still perform any magic? If so, what kind of tricks do you like to do?

MagicAntonio1 karma

I still do magic for friends and social events. Not as much as I used to, but I still do, and I still love it.

theunhipster1 karma

craziest memory from living in Vegas?

MagicAntonio3 karma

I'll just say that I had a lot of fun in my 20s. Living in Vegas as a single guy for many years were some of the most memorable times of my life. But if you want specifics, I'll have to plead the fifth.

My55y1 karma

Your favourite video game?

MagicAntonio1 karma

Back when I played, I loved Super Mario Kart