Yes, you read that headline right. Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari won a second gold bracelet and $18,346,673for his victory in the $1,000,000 buy-in Big One For One Drop tournament that served as Event #55 in this year’s World Series of Poker. And while Antonio’s now-massive bankroll is impressive, the final table breakdown means that the top nine finishers collected the mind-boggling sum of $42,666,672. The final table alone means that the 2012 WSOP awarded more prize money in a single day than any other live poker tournament held in history for its entire duration.
You’re probably familiar with Esfandiari, but to recap: he’s 33 years old and he became a professional magician at the age of 19. He got invited into a card game one evening and soon after, his path was set. In addition to this victory, he took down the 2004 $2,000 Pot Limit Hold ‘Em tournament in the WSOP and has won a pair of World Poker Tour titles.
Second place went to Sam Trickett, the 26-year-old English poker pro who is known as one of the highest-stakes gamblers in the world and is referred to as the king of the British poker scene. Trickett was seeking his first WSOP gold bracelet, but had to instead settle for the biggest consolation prize in poker history — $10,112,001 for second place.
When asked if his heart was racing during the final hand that won him the biggest prize in poker history, Esfandiari’s normally cool facade broke a little bit.
“It wasn’t beating that hard actually. I just went through the process and I was thinking: Okay here we are. This is the moment. If you fade this flush draw, you win the biggest tournament in history of the world. And that’s it. This is the moment,” he told reporters. “It’s here, right now. I was like please Jesus, this one time. And I’m pretty sure I used up all my one-times on this tournament, but I’m okay with that. I said earlier if I use my one-times for the next five years in this tournament, I’m happy with that. So, from now on, it’s one more time.”
What shouldn’t be lost in all the hubbub about this win is that the Big One For One Drop was a charity poker event. (In fact, the founder of One Drop Guy Labierte, came in sixth.) Over $10,000,000 was raised from the rake for the 48 poker players who participated, and that’s all being funneled towards clean drinking water for children and adults around the world.
Still, $18,000,000+ going to one guy for playing poker well is still pretty amazing, huh?
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