Antonia Esfandiari

Antonia Esfandiari Antonia Esfandiari ( The Magician ) was born in Tehran, Iran on the 8 December 1978. His original name was Amir Esfandiary which he changed in later years.

He is a Professional Poker player who has won two WPT (World Poker Tour) championships and three WSOP (World Series of Poker) bracelets. He was also the face of UltimatePoker.com which has subsequently closed down.

The Early Years

When Esfandiari was 9, his family moved to San Jose, California. His friends used to call him Antonio, which led to him changing his name at the age of 19 as he identified with this name.

He always wanted to be a Magician, so embarked on a career in Magic and did various shows in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Introduction to Poker

His first introduction to Poker was at the age of 20. He was doing a magic show when an associate invited him to a private poker game of Texas hold ’em. Once he started playing, he was fascinated by the game and started playing Poker regularly from then onwards.

WPT and WSOP Tournaments

In 2004, Esfandiari won $1.4 million and his first World Poker Tour title at the L.A. Poker Classic. A few months later he won his first World Series of Poker bracelet for coming first in the Pot Limit Event. He won $185 000 from this event.

In 2010, he won his second WPT title by winning the Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic. He earned in the region of $870,000 from this event.

Where is he Now?

Nowadays Antonio Esfandiari lives in Las Vegas with his wife Amal Bounahra, who is the daughter of Poker pro Badih “Bob” Bounahra.

He co-stars with Phil Laak on the show I Bet You, on MOJO HD. In this show, the pair of them travel around the USA betting on various games except for Poker. Esfandiari also serves as the face of the WPT’s Poker Made Millionaire marketing campaign.

Edward Thorp

Edward Thorp Dr Edward Oakly Thorp was born in Chicago, Illinois USA on the 14 August 1932.

He is an American maths professor, blackjack player and hedge fund manager.

His claim to fame was to develop a wearable device which uncovered mathematical advantages at the Blackjack tables. He also mathematically proved that the player could remove the house advantage in blackjack by using card counting techniques.

The Early Years

Thorp studied mathematics at the University of California, Los Angeles and received his PHD in 1958. He worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 1959 to 1961. From 1961 to 1965 he was a professor of mathematics at the New Mexico State University. This was followed by Professor of Maths and Finance at the University of California from 1965 to 1982.

It was here that Thorp used an old IBM computer to work out his blackjack theories.

Playing Blackjack

Thorp started playing Blackjack at Lake Tahoe, Reno and Las Vegas to test his theories. He won $11 000 in the first week. Furthermore, he got a Baccarat team together, which was also successful.

While working at MIT Thorp met Claude Shannon who co-developed the wearable computer with Thorp, and both of them wore it at various casinos whilst playing Blackjack and Roulette.

Gambling Books

In 1966 Thorp wrote the Book – Beat the Dealer which sold over 700 000 copies and made the New York Times bestseller list. In 1967 he wrote the book “ Beat the Market” which was also very successful.

Where is he Now?

Thorp operated his own hedge fund for 30 years. It was called Princeton Newport Partners and was one of the most successful hedge funds before disbanding. Although Thorp left the gambling world, he is still active in the trading world, and at the age of 87 years old is worth $800 billion.

Omar Siddiqui

Omar Siddiqui Ausaf Umar Siddiqui (Known as Omar Siddiqui) was born in Pakistan in 1966.

He is known for gambling over $162 million in Las Vegas, USA from 2005 to 2008 after embezzling money from his employer Fry’s Electronics, through money-laundering and wire fraud.

The Early Years

Not much is known about Siddiqui’s childhood, except that he was born in Pakistan and moved to the USA as a child.

Fry’s Electronics

Siddiqui started working at an electronics and computer retailer called Fry’s Electronics.

In 199 he was promoted to Vice President of the Company and was earning an annual salary of $225 000. Siddiqui made his money by accepting kickbacks from suppliers in return for paying higher prices for the goods purchased by the Company. He funnelled the funds through a shell company he set up called PD International.

The Company hid in the region of $65.6 million in kickbacks.

High Roller at Las Vegas Casinos

Siddiqui had a gambling addiction, and his game of choice was Blackjack. According to casino employees, they called him a “blackjack machine” as he liked the dealers to deal the cards extremely fast. He usually bet $200 000 per hand.

He was very arrogant and loved the high life, so the casinos wined and dined him with luxury suites, private jets, luxury holidays and casino cash.

They also extended millions of dollars worth of credit to him, and when he won, he would use the winnings of one casino to pay off the credit at another casino.

Convicted of Fraud

In 2005 an employee saw some personal spreadsheets and letters showing extraordinarily high commission amounts on Siddiqui’s desk.

The employee exposed his fraud, and in 2008 he was convicted of money laundering and wire fraud and sentenced to six years in jail.

Siddiqui filed for bankruptcy in July 2008 and at that time was $137 million in debt.