8th Dec 1978
Amir “Antonio” Esfandiari was born in Iran and came to America when he was nine-years-old, growing up in San Jose, California. Thanks to his victory at the Big One for One Drop tournament in 2012 (for $18,346,673) he is the all-time biggest money winner in the history of poker, with $23.7m to his name, as of January 2013.
Antonio nurtured dreams of becoming a magician until poker got in the way. His breakthrough came at the WPT LA Poker Classic in 2004, which netted him $1.3m, which he followed up with his first WSOP bracelet win in the same year.
With a party animal reputation, Antonio maintained solid results in subsequent years, but we had to wait until 2010 for his next major title, when a more focused and less hedonistic Antonio returned to win his second WPT title. 2012 was truly his year, however – as well as winning the richest poker tournament ever staged, the aforementioned One Drop, he added two more bracelets to his CV.
Esfandiari co-starred in the TV show I Bet You, with his long-time friend Phil Laak.