Poker like a rockstar … The highs & the lows

The magician has felt loss on an epic scale

I sit on a flight from Vegas to Park City. After the WSOP is over, I always like to get out of town as quickly as possible. Being in Vegas during the summer for nearly two months can take its toll on you. The heat. The poker. The lack of anything normal to do. Don’t get me wrong, I like Vegas but being there for two months straight in that heat is too much for me.

PBF and I are headed to Utah for a little mini vacation. During Sundance, we met the Baker family who we really took a liking to. We had such an amazing time at their house and are now returning to stay with them and relax for a bit. A much needed trip.

Antonio EsfandiariWSOP — last night they played down to nine players in the Main Event. Nine lucky players are now November Niners. I can’t imagine the rush of knowing that in just a few months you will be playing to be world champion. What a rush that must be. Especially for Mark Newhouse who back-to-backed the final of the main! Truly magnificent.

My World Series sucked. There is no other way to put it. Simply put — I don’t think it could get worse. Actually, it’s impossible. For the rest of my life, I know I could never have a worse WSOP. I got really sick the first week and had to miss a bunch of events. Eventually, I got better and got back to the grind. Bust after bust after bust, I found myself having a difficult time playing my best. We all know what it’s like to have the poker gods turn against you. At any time, for any reason, it can be over. Without any warning, without any just cause. BAM. That’s it. Adios. I kept experiencing this tournament after tournament. I simply could not win.

My flipping ratio was awful. I could not win a flip if my life depended on it. It was just bad all around. I bubbled so many events. Next thing you know, we’re approaching the end of June and I have yet to even get on the board. I couldn’t believe it. Not a SINGLE cash yet? IS that even possible? Sure was.

The One Drop was just around the corner and I was not in any shape to play it. Mentally I was being tortured. My confidence was low. I really needed a “refresh.” I took a break a few days before the One Drop and did something I have never done before.

About four months ago, I had an amazing outdoor experience deep in Mount Charleston with a bunch of friends. I decided I would go back there by myself and make a day of it. Just me and the wilderness. Getting to this place was no easy task. You have to turn off the main road and drive on a little dirt road for quite some time. Not to mention there is NOBODY around. It’s really out there.

I packed up my camelback loaded up the necessities and started my journey. Over an hour into my drive on a dirt road in the middle of NOWWHERE, I got a flat tire. Never in my life have I changed a tire. It was 111 degrees outside. My car was on a bit of a slant. Should I attempt to change this flat or should I call in for help!? Two hours and 14 air conditioning breaks later, I successfully changed the tire. It was incredibly rejuvenating. I did something I never imagined before. If I got a flat, I would always call it in or someone with me would change it. But this was me in the mountains in unbearable heat and I got it DONE. I was so happy. So free! I continued up to my destination and had one of the most incredible days of my life. I did some yoga. I read. I really cleared my head. It was so pure. I was READY for One Drop.

Day 1 we started with 3 million in chips. At one point, I was down to 1.4 million but managed to build it back up to 6 million to end the day. I never let being low get to me. I maintained a great attitude and kept on fighting.  A very good start.

Day 2 I went on a tear. I was chip leader at dinner break with just 12 left. I genuinely thought it was mine. Again. I went home for dinner break, had some food, took a shower, came back to play down to eight and an hour later, I was OUT. No cash. No final table. OUT. I was in a state of shock. The blinds were huge and every hand really mattered. I ran bad and, to my own fault, I didn’t slow down. I love to hammer when I have chips. I never had the thought of cashing. All I cared about was making history. Going back to back would have been one of the greatest poker accomplishments of all time. And it was right there at the tip of my fingertips and I let it slip through the cracks. Granted, I did lose some hands where I had the best of it but there is no reason why I should have busted 10th.

Busting that tournament delivered a sort of pain I had never experienced before. It was worse than love heartbreak. I remember when I was 19 years old, and my girlfriend at the time broke up with me. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t do anything. For weeks, I was a total mess. This was WORSE than that. I know how this must sound — probably quite pathetic. Here I am after winning the first year in a bigger field complaining about busting out two years later. I can’t explain what it feels like to ALMOST do it again. To have it right there in front of you and have it not happen. Winning it again WOULD have been one for the record books. And I didn’t do it. Nobody will understand what that feels like.

On a positive note it can’t ever hurt more than that. This might sound silly but getting second in the Main Event would hurt less. Way less. Obviously, I am taking the financial benefits out of the equation. For the rest of my life, no matter what happens in any poker tournament in any hand for any stake, it will never hurt as much. It’s only uphill from here.

It’s crazy to think of the highs and lows from gambling. Poker is an incredibly volatile emotional game. Two years ago, I was flying high with joy after winning the biggest tournament to date. Two years later, I experience the worst pain possible from gambling. What a rollercoaster.

All in all, I can’t complain about anything. I have an amazing family. I have love in my life. Business is good. I have my health. What else can I ask for? Burning Man is right around the corner. It’s interesting I am still not back to the old me before this One Drop but I’m coming around. Slowly but surely.

Antonio Esfandiari

Twitter and instagram Magicantonio

August 2014