Poker News Daily: You’ve had a couple of sponsorship deals in the past, but you are generally known as one of the top unsigned players. What prompted you to settle down with Victory Poker?
Antonio Esfandiari: Well, there was no right fit for me. I was with Ultimate Bet many years ago. That was cool, but I’m glad that I wasn’t with them when the whole [cheating scandal] went down. I had nothing to do with that.
Then I was with World Poker Tour (WPT) because I was their one and only main guy. I didn’t want to be on a team with a bunch of other pros. Like Full Tilt has a gazillion pros and I didn’t want to be just another guy. So I was kind of holding out for another opportunity and then Victory came along and it was a perfect fit. It’s all my buddies. Dan [Fleyshman] and I have known each other for years and he is a great businessman; when he told me about it I was super interested and here we are. We’ll see where it goes.
PND: What do you think sets Victory Poker apart from the other online poker rooms out there?
Esfandiari: Our software is really good, our artwork is great. The guys in operations who are behind it know what they’re doing, so I think we’re going to stand out on that front. We’re not trying to be Full Tilt or Poker Stars. We’re just trying to get in there and make some sort of a splash. I think we have a certain draw to us that other sites don’t.
PND: The site is really big on the lifestyle of pro poker players. Do you think that is part of the draw?
Esfandiari: Sure. My lifestyle is basically living in Vegas, going out, being social. Now they want to just film all that and create traffic to the site and I’m okay with that. If you want to put a camera on my life, go ahead.
PND: What kind of stuff have they filmed so far?
Esfandiari: Us going out, us betting on everything. A lot of random stuff. The other day I put on a bulletproof vest and got shot with a real gun. We blew up an RV.
PND: Let’s go back to you getting shot. How did that end up happening?
Esfandiari: My friend Dan “Blitz” Bilzerian, a sponsored pro as well, is a sicko. At his house, he had a bulletproof vest on the ground and he took a gun and shot it. I was like “I can’t believe you just shot that thing in your house.” He’s like, “it’s bulletproof.” I said, “So, if I wear it, it’s ok right?” He’s like, “Absolutely!” He’s a former Navy SEAL so he’d love to shoot me. I’m like, “Alright.” So I put on the bulletproof vest and he shot me.
PND: Was this part of a bet or just curiosity on your part?
Esfandiari: It was just curiosity. I didn’t always want to get shot, but I was like, “Hey, may as well get shot.”
PND: You took part in Victory’s high stakes cash game at the Hard Rock Casino. How did that go for you?
Esfandiari: Not so well. I got punished.
PND: Who were the big winners?
Esfandiari: Alan Meltzer and Bob Wright.
PND: We’ve been asking the other Victory Poker Pros what kind of car they’re going to buy off Craig’s List for your upcoming demolition derby in the desert. Have you picked out a car yet?
Esfandiari: No, I’ve actually never been on Craig’s List, so I don’t even know where to start. I’m not very internet-friendly. I did do a demolition derby before with Phil Laak for “I Bet You” though.
PND: Do you think that you’ll have the advantage come derby-time then?
Esfandiari: I think I’m going to win anything I do. Always positive thinking.