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Poker Stories Podcast: Antonio Esfandiari Recalls That Time He Let Dan Bilzerian Shoot Him In The Chest

Poker Stories Is An Audio Podcast Series That Features The Game's Best Players and Personalities


Poker Stories is a long-form audio podcast series that features casual interviews with some of the game’s best players and personalities. Each episode highlights a well-known member of the poker world and dives deep into their favorite tales both on and off the felt.

Antonio Esfandiari stole the attention of the poker world with his breakthrough victory in the 2004 World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic main event, and he kept it by showing off his skills as a high-stakes prop gambler while keeping everyone else at the table entertained with his gregarious personality. Originally known at the tables as “The Magician,” Esfandiari excelled as a staple of televised poker shows and live streams during the decade that followed the poker boom, and maintained his status as one of the game’s best with consistent wins on the tournament circuit.

Esfandiari won his first World Series of Poker bracelet in 2004, and added his second WPT title in 2010 when he took down the Five Diamond World Poker Classic at Bellagio, a tournament in which he has also finished fourth and sixth. He picked up another bracelet at the 2012 WSOP Europe, but his biggest score came at the summer series when he finished on top of the $1 million buy-in Big One For One Drop event, earning a then-record payout of $18.3 million. It was enough to see him temporarily overtake the top spot on poker’s all-time money list, before being passed by Daniel Negreanu, Justin Bonomo, and eventually Bryn Kenney. The 41-year-old has more than $27 million in career live tournament earnings.

Highlights from this interview include stage names, a childhood at war, obsessing over sleight-of-hand, why Phil Laak couldn’t just enjoy the magic, showing off for dad at spread-limit hold’em, binking at Commerce with the last of his bankroll, being more modest than Phil Hellmuth, focusing on fatherhood, falling off the all-time money list, the exhilaration of getting shot by Dan Bilzerian, the 90 seconds following his One Drop victory, forcing Brian Rast into a tournament beast, how Phil Ivey was stoic in the face of death, considering love during trouble in the skies, washing cars and dishes for work, his Persian calling for real estate, being on the celebrity D- list, autographing body parts, Pinocchio insults, boxing training by Audley Harrison, buying out of a ‘no release’ prop bet, life as a bird, and being able to tell his kids he beat up Kevin Hart.

You can check out the entirety of the interview in the audio player at the top of the page or download it directly to your device to play on the go from Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app.

Catch up on past episodes featuring notables such as Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Bryn Kenney, Justin Bonomo, Nick Schulman, Barry Greenstein, Michael Mizrachi, Mike Sexton, Brian Rast, Jean-Robert Bellande, Jamie Gold, Layne Flack, Chris Moneymaker, Maria Ho, Freddy Deeb, and many more. If you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe to get the latest episodes automatically when they are released.