If it feels a while since you saw a lot of Antonio Esfandiari on your screens or at a poker table at all, there is a reason for that. In a recent interview on the Poker Stories Podcast, he revealed that since becoming a father his priorities were no longer on the felt.

By: Jon Pill

There are some events that he just can’t miss, like the WPT Five Diamonds event, the winning of which made his name. But even then he’d rather head home than rebuy when he bust. “I love this tournament,” he told . “But you know, my kids are young, and I just hate being away from them.”

What might be more surprising to long time poker aficionados is that he didn’t originally feel great about going pro for the first time.

“It’s not exactly what an Iranian son is supposed to do to make his immigrant parents proud,” he said. But after showing his father his skills at the table, he went all-in on poker, with the family’s blessing.

He also recounted tales of terrifying air disasters with Phil Ivey (“[Ivey] wakes up, zero emotion of any kind, puts his [oxygen] mask on, and then just kinds of sits there like nothing is happening”).  and of being shot in a by Dan Bilzerian while wearing a bullet proof vest (“it was not a big, heavy gun”).

Perhaps the biggest coup he was willing to talk about was the boxing match he had with Kevin Hart. Hart might have had a Hollywood trainer to keep him in shape but he underestimated the “skinny Persian” he was up against.

Esfandiari won the match and the 35-to-1 payout that Hart had laid against him.

The key question is whether Esfandiari is coming back to poker or not?

Probably not any time soon. “It’s not so much that I feel rusty,” he says. “It’s just that everyone keeps getting better and better, and that’s annoying.”


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