Is Antonio Esfandiari one of poker’s all-time greats?

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Dec 12, 2012 Posted in Op-Ed | 2 Comments »

There are only a couple of dozen names that are virtually synonymous with poker: Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, Tom Dwan, Johnny Moss, and Phil Ivey all come to mind when you ask people who the greatest poker player of all time is –the answer usually depends on the query’s age of course. Inclusion in this club is difficult to come by, but there is one particular player who may be penciling his name onto this short-list… Antonio Esfandiari.

Just a year ago the idea that Antonio (a good but not outstanding player) would be in the conversation of the all-time greats was borderline absurd, but after a phenomenal 2012 that brought his name to the forefront maybe it’s time to take a deeper look at the poker player known as “The Magician”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Antonio is there yet, but he definitely should be on everyone’s radar from here on out. After his 2012 run it’s only going to take a couple more bracelets, or something like an Aussie Millions victory to really turn Antonio into an all-time great.

Antonio has five World Poker Tour final tables, and he has won two of those tournaments; he is the proud owner of three World Series of Poker bracelets; and like all of the legends of the game he has found himself in unchartered waters by winning the $1,000,000 buy-in Big One for One Drop tournament as well as making the final table of the WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamonds World Poker Classic three years running – an achievement that actually spawned this article. For Antonio the numbers are there.

Even though he doesn’t grind poker tournaments like some pros he has solid numbers and accomplishments (One Drop definitely helps), but like most magicians there is more to Antonio’s poker career than meets the eye.

Antonio has been one of the most popular players in poker since bursting onto the scene back in 2004; he’s avoided controversies; and most importantly he has worked hard to promote poker, appearing on countless shows like High Stakes Poker, Poker After Dark, and the PokerStars Big Game, as well as putting together his own reality TV show with Phil Laak and lending his talents to the ESPN broadcast booth for the World Series of Poker.

So let’s make the case for Antonio:

* All-Time Money List: #1 with $23,435,292

* All-Time Money List (excluding buy-ins of over $50,000): #59 with $5,417,958

* Two World Poker Tour titles

* Five World Poker Tour final tables

* Three World Series of Poker bracelets

* Seven WSOP final tables

* WSOP commentator on ESPN

* Regularly plays high-stakes cash games

* One of the most recognizable players in poker

Also, let’s not forget that Antonio is only 34 years-old! There is still a lot of poker to be played in his career, and even if the Big One for One Drop title becomes something of a novelty, Antonio is well on his way to putting together an impressive resume, and he has that “it” factor that many of the other players who are cited as the best of all time seem to have.

 

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2 Responses to “Is Antonio Esfandiari one of poker’s all-time greats?”

  1. Pieter Gaskin says:

    I love hearing his ESPN commentary especially when the hole cards are not shown. He gives me great insight into the game. I wish he taught!

  2. Steve Ruddock says:

    He is excellent on ESPN. We are actually having a debate on PokerForums.org regarding Antonio if you’d like to join in: http://www.pokerforums.org/general-poker-discussion/40518-lets-discuss-antonio-esfandiari.html

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