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Antonio Esfandiari Wins World Series Of Poker $1 Million Buy-In 'Big One For One Drop'

Snags Record $18.3 Million Jackpot And Top Spot On All-Time Money List


Esfandari, middle, with dad and brotherPoker professional Antonio Esfandiari has won the most expensive poker tournament in history — the $1 million buy-in that drew 48 of the game’s best pros and wealthiest amateurs. He beat a final table of eight on Tuesday night in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The event, which took part of the entry fee for charity, gave Esfandiari the top prize of $18.3 million, although he said he wasn’t thinking about the payday.

“I swear to you, believe it or not, I never thought about the money. I just wanted to win,” said Esfandiari, who decided to play just a few days before the event started. He told Card Player that he didn’t make a financial deal with runner-up Sam Trickett.

Brian Rast, who finished sixth, is a long-time friend of the champion and explained the mindset:

“If he had 100 percent of himself the money would be the most important thing to him,” Rast said. “He sold pieces, just like every other pro who played this. There are no poker players who are billionaires or hundred millionaires, like the businessmen who played. The money, while significant to him, might not even mean as much as the publicity from winning the title.”

The final table drew hundreds of spectators and was broadcasted nationally on ESPN.

When asked if there are happy investors out there right now, Esfandiari said, “I plead the fifth.”

Trickett, an English pro, walked away with $10.1 million for his deep run.

Sam TrickettAs a frequent combatant in the high-stakes Macau cash games, Trickett is no stranger to $1 million gambles, but snagged an endorsement from online site Matchbook to play the event. Trickett called it a “fair deal for both parties.” He said that he “won a lot of money today.”

The 26-year-old said that he was angry at himself at how he played at the end. “I’ll get over it,” he admitted. “I would have liked to win for the bracelet and the prestige, but I can’t be too upset.”

While Esfandiari eyed the title, Trickett cared more about the cash. “The money was too significant,” Trickett said. “It was like an extra $8 million [for first]. I would take that over a bracelet all day.”

In the crowd to witness Esfandiari capture his second WSOP bracelet was his father, Bejan.

“When he started to play poker I was against it,” Bejan said. “He was an A-student. I wanted him to be a doctor, an engineer or something. He didn’t tell me what he was doing. I heard from other people that he was gambling, and I said, ‘What!’”

Bejan became convinced Antonio knew what he was doing after watching him at a local casino.

Esfandiari has had success on the felt for many years, but said Tuesday that he recently moved away from the life of partying. He credits the change for his success this summer. Esfandiari added that the $18 million win was “better than sex.”

“He has kind of turned his life around,” Rast said.

Despite the buy-in, Esfandiari was his usual talkative self at the tables over the three-day affair.

“I might as well enjoy my life instead of just sit there and be bored,” he said. “Because poker, as we all know, is kind of boring sometimes. The fact that it was ‘One Drop’ made no difference.”

Esfandiari had his sandals off when the final river card hit the felt. “$18 million in bare feet? God bless poker,” WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart remarked during the celebration.

Guy LalibertéGuy Laliberté, the event’s organizer and fifth-place finisher, said “at least 10 to 15” people have said they would play again next year. When asked if the buy-in would stay at $1 million, the billionaire joked, “No, we will raise it to $10 million!”

Despite busting after a massive coin flip with Esfandiari, Laliberté was pleased with the tournament.

“So good for ‘One Drop,’ so good for poker,” he said. “I think this is where poker is now. It’s a question of working together as a community to make it happen. Since the [economic] crisis everything went down; Black Friday has been difficult here for poker, but I think this has been a great year for poker with such an event.”

Card Player’s live updates have the key hands from the final table, which took less than eight hours to finish.

Here are the final payouts:

1. Antonio Esfandiari — $18,346,673
2. Sam Trickett — $10,112,001
3. David Einhorn — $4,352,000
4. Phil Hellmuth — $2,645,333
5. Guy Laliberté — $1,834,666
6. Brian Rast — $1,621,333
7. Bobby Baldwin — $1,408,000
8. Richard Yong — $1,237,333
9. Mike Sexton — $1,109,333

Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus



almost 10 years ago

Fabulous ESPN coverage also. Congrats Antonio!


almost 10 years ago

I came out of my sandals when you 3-bet Phil holding 9/2.


almost 10 years ago

The ESPN coverage was very good. The graphic on premium hands dealt to each player was quite telling Mr. Esfandiari played great and deserved to win. He also according to the ESPN graphic was running about 10% premium hands[99 thru aa,ak and aq] the only other player close to that was Einhorn I believe. Hellmuth was at 0%. Unlike Mr. Rast or Mr. Mercier when he got these great cards he did not run into another player with better cards. Or on the other foot when he had AK against QQ for 54m pot and hit the A or K to win the pot. He played great and also had a lot of run good which is a necessity in a tournament play to win.


almost 10 years ago

He played great and also had a lot of run good to win the tourney.
Funny how those two things ALWAYS have to be together to win a tourney.
Though I have seen some people not play good but run extremely good and win's so weird.
Always wondered why people use the term "run good" instead of just saying "getting lucky"?

Either way it was a great win by Antonio. Wonder how much he actually made though?


almost 10 years ago

If you say he got lucky instead of run good then you become a hater what ever that is for just stating the obvious. In the end to win a tournament such as this you need good cards, luck and skill in what ever order you want to list them.


almost 10 years ago

Ok tnks Clunker for clearing that up for if you say someone got lucky than you are a "hater", and if you say they run good than you are..........what???
Ok, now that I think about it, maybe you didn't really clear anything up.
It really is a tough question, but tnks for the effort.
Once again, great win by Antonio, a total class act.


almost 10 years ago

Your welcome glad I could clear up what ever was confusing you or not. If you ever want to nit pick some more go for it.