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Antonio Esfandiari Shrugs Off All-Time Tournament Earnings Title

34 Year Old Believes He Will Be Passed By Other Players


Esfandiari Competes At NBC Heads-Up ChampionshipAntonio Esfandiari has three World Series of Poker bracelets and two World Poker Tour titles. Thanks to his outgoing personality and undeniable charm, he’s been one of the most recognizable faces in the poker world for the last eight years.

With nearly $23.5 million in career winnings, the 34-year-old former magician currently holds the distinction as the all-time live tournament earnings leader. But when asked about the title, Esfandiari shrugs it off without much thought.

“I mean, it’s a fantastic honor, but I honestly don’t really feel like the all-time earnings leader, because the bulk of those winnings really came from one tournament,” he said.

The tournament in question is last summer’s Big One For One Drop, a $1 million buy-in event. The tournament drew a field of 48 players, many of whom were wealthy businessmen. Esfandiari outlasted them all, taking home $18,346,673, but the Iranian-born poker pro doesn’t think his reign on top will last forever.

“There are guys near the top who have done it for years without a lot of huge scores,” said Esfandiari. “Personally, I’m not a guy who likes to travel around and play a lot of tournaments these days.”

The guys he refers to are the rest of the all-time live tournament earnings top ten, which includes well-known poker pros Sam Trickett, Phil Ivey, Erik Seidel, Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, John Juanda, Michael Mizrachi, Jamie Gold and Scotty Nguyen.

Trickett, the current second-place resident with over $17.5 million in earnings, is just as guilty as Esfandiari is on relying on one tournament for the bulk of his winnings. His second-place finish in the Big One For One Drop added $10,112,001 to his total.

The same can be said for Gold, who has managed to only add an additional $230,000 onto the $12 million he won in the 2006 WSOP main event.

But others, like Esfandiari suggested, have spent years building up their poker resumes. Hellmuth, for example, didn’t earn his first seven-figure score until the 2011 WSOP. Negreanu has three seven-figure cashes of his own, but they make up less than a quarter of his $16.1 million in winnings.

Esfandiari At One Of His Three WPT Five-Diamond Final TablesTo be fair, Esfandiari hasn’t exactly been a slouch when it comes to his other major tournament finishes. Even if he hadn’t made the money in the Big One For One Drop, he’d still have cashed for over $700,000 in 2012 alone. In December, he managed to make the final table of the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic for an unprecedented third year in a row, proving he’s still as hungry as ever to compete at the highest level.

Though he currently holds a $6 million lead on his nearest competitor, Esfandiari believes it’s just a matter of time before he has to give up his spot at the top.

“I believe that those guys will continue to play a ton of high roller events and eventually, I’ll get passed. I may have won the biggest buy-in event of all time, but I don’t look forward to flying to Macau to put up $250,000 to play against a bunch of wizards like these other guys do. Unless I see some value in the tournament, like there was with the One Drop event, then I’m not really interested. I’m not really looking to gamble. There needs to be some kind of edge, or else I’m probably not going to play it.”

Here’s a look at the all-time live tournament earnings leaderboard as we head into the new year.

Rank Player Name Earnings 6-Figure Scores 7-Figure Scores 8-Figure Scores
1 Antonio Esfandiari $23.5 M 12 1 1
2 Sam Trickett $17.5 M 9 3 1
3 Phil Ivey $17.1 M 31 4 0
4 Erik Seidel $17.1 M 34 2 0
5 Phil Hellmuth $17 M 34 3 0
6 Daniel Negreanu $16.2 M 28 3 0
7 John Juanda $14.7 M 30 2 0
8 Michael Mizrachi $14.1 M 16 5 0
9 Jamie Gold $12.2 M 0 0 1
10 Scotty Nguyen $11.7 M 23 2 0


over 8 years ago

We need more humility like Antonio shows here.