Editor's Note: This is part two of Antonio Esfandiari's inside look at the life of a professional poker player. Part 1
First things first. I would like to thank the World Poker Exchange for putting together what may have been the greatest tournament in the history of poker tournaments to date. They guaranteed a $2 million prize pool and, when only about 125 people showed up to donate their 10K, they kept their word and added around 700K to the prize pool. The equity was unbelievable. The tournament was held right in the heart of London, which was awesome.
I loved London. The people were rather friendly. The food was pretty good. The city was beautiful. Although if you ever plan to visit, you better bring your checkbook. London ain't cheap. To put it in perspective, you can compare the prices in London to New York. Everything costs roughly the same. Only difference is that it takes about two units of our money to get one unit of their money! I could not believe my eyes when I saw that a martini at this rather swanky place cost £12! That's about 22 U.S. dollars! Twenty-two bucks for one drink! I am a spender at heart, but this was unholy!
The nightlife in London was awesome. It was very New Yorkish. The first night, we rolled to a place called Funky Buddha. My man Michael Caselli [the editor of Bluff magazine] got us hooked so there would be no issues at the door. We rolled up with our posse, got a table and ordered a bottle. A bottle of Goose cost £175, which is around $330 U.S. That was actually a little cheaper than New York or Vegas. How sweet it is!
The club was rather small, which I like. The smaller the club, the pickier you can be about who you let in. The crowd was awesome. The girls were sevens and higher. The music was off the hook. Great energy. I love when my dad parties with us, because all the girls think it's so cute to bring dad out. It's the ultimate chick magnet! My brother took over the dance floor and I was entertaining some friends with sleight of hand. Even though I was out of the tournament, life was good!
Our second night out was a night to be remembered. Again, Caselli set us up with this really cool spot. This time we had a few more attendees -- my good friend Noah Boeken and his posse, along with David Wells, my friend Mark, and, of course, the lovely Victoria. Mark is an English friend of mine who lives in London. This kid is 25 and has already made over a million hustling in backgammon! He is one spoiled little brat, but nonetheless, I love the guy. The lovely Victoria was looking rather exceptional this evening. Around 4 a.m., when things were shutting down, someone had this bright idea of going to an after-hours club. My brother Paul wanted to keep dancing, so after hours it was. We were all completely hammered by this point. Either I drank too much or somebody slipped something in my drink, because I was feeling good!
Next thing you know, it was 6 a.m.! We left the club only to see the brightness of the sun and the crispness of the air outside. It was awesome. The crew split and, since David, Paul, Victoria and myself were staying at the same hotel, we all took the same cab back. We were staying very close to Hyde Park, right in central London, and instead of going back to the hotel like normal people, we decided to take a walk in the park! After all, it was morning time. I cannot begin to explain how beautiful it was. Paul couldn't stop dancing! Even at 7 a.m. in the middle of the park with no music, this kid just wouldn't stop! Next thing you know Victoria joined him in the dancing festivities! David and I looked at each other and said, "What the hell. We might as well!" There we were the four of us at 7 a.m. in London, in the middle of the park, still up from the night before, dancing! Isn't life grand?
Now for the most enjoyable dinner ever, followed by the most pain ever. Dinner attendees this evening included Robert and Kate Williamson, Phil Laak and Jennifer Tilly, David Wells, Paul, Victoria and myself. We went to this really nice Italian joint. Dinner was fantastic. Robert ordered bottle after bottle of wine. This was one high card I did not want to lose. (It is customary that when we go out to dinner we always gamble for the bill with a nonskill game of some sort). Dinner is near its end and here it comes. I know what's going to happen. I can feel the pain. The check is £1,200 without tip. Add another £250 for tip and now we have a grand total of about $2,600 for dinner! Typical Antonio: I pull out the losing card and there you have it. Net worth downtick. Whack!
One afternoon I go to have a little quality time with the boys. My friend mark picks David and I up at the hotel. Mark drives a very sexy Mercedes SL 500 and, seeing as how there are three of us and there are only two seats, there is only one solution. David and I have to gamble to see who will be sitting in the middle with his head hanging way out of the roof. Thank God it was a convertible! And, of course, yours truly gets whacked and is stuck in the middle. I mean, I wouldn't even call it a middle! We drive to Mark's apartment and switch to his BMW five-seater. Before taking off, David asks Mark if he can drive. Mark is a pretty cool kat, and says cool. David has had experience driving on the left so Mark was not too worried about it. I love David and he is good at many things, but believe me when I tell you driving is not one of them! I thought maybe if he was to switch to the left side of the road something would just click and he would learn how to maneuver, but no such luck.
En route to the gym, I trash talk David a bit about his driving capability and he says, "How about we bet that you can't do any better than I just did?" I have never driven on the left. The steering wheel was on the right side of the car! It really looked strange. David offered to bet me up to 2K! I was too nervous to bet two dimes, so we made a friendly $500 wager. Mark was to be the solo judge. I would drive for a while and, at the end, Mark would simply state who he thought was a better driver. Let's just say it wasn't even close and, once again, I whacked my good friend David Wells for a few more bucks. Net worth uptick.
Next stop, Barcelona.