Antonio Esfandiari is a Poker Wizz
We all have a story like this.
Several years ago, I went to an Atlanta Hawks basketball game with my brother. During the game, I had a few things to eat and bought a soda in one of those huge souvenir cups that includes the added benefit of a free refill. After bidding my brother farewell when we walked to our cars at the conclusion of the evening, I set out on my 25 minute drive home.
I wasn’t quite halfway to my house yet when I began to regret getting that beverage refill. I had to go. I’m a big boy, so I figured I could hold it, but it was if the entire volume of the souvenir cup had decided to migrate to my bladder all at once. There was no room at the inn – it was imperative that I make a pit stop.
Normally, this would be no problem, but as luck would have it, there was some sort of construction happening on my stretch of I-75 northbound so not only was traffic almost at a standstill, but I was stuck all the way on the left side of the highway. Again, I am an adult, so having to make water isn’t usually a problem, but the dam was nearing its breaking point. Boxed in, I was afraid I only had one option: pee in the empty water bottle next to me. I contemplated my strategy, as doing that while navigating traffic wasn’t going to be easy and I was afraid that the container would overflow. I held off as long as possible and somehow, some way, I was able to fight through cars to make it to the right side of the highway and to an exit ramp, all the while leaning over the steering wheel and gripping it like it was trying to fly away from me.
I sped into a Taco Bell parking lot, raced for the door, and was able to make it to the restroom before I had some explaining to do to my wife. When I hopped back in my vehicle, as happy as I have ever been, I saw an employee lock the doors for closing time.
But I Digress
We have all been a situation like that. Apparently, so has Antonio Esfandiari. But “The Magician” was unable to just make his waste fluid disappear. On Day 2 of the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event this week, Esfandiari experienced such an extreme emergency situation that he just up and micturated right there at the poker table. And wouldn’t you know it, he was disqualified for his transgression.
Let’s clarify one thing. Esfandiari didn’t evacuate at the table because he thought it would be awesome. He didn’t think, “Well, I’m the 2012 WSOP Big One for One Drop champ. I’ll just pay everyone to put up with me.” While he did concede that he thought it was kind of funny, he did it out of what he thought was necessity.
Esfandiari was in the middle of a prop bet with Bill Perkins, a bet in which Esfandiari was required to ambulate only with lunges for 48 hours. Anywhere he went he couldn’t walk, he had to lunge. He was on the second day during the day in question and, according to Esfandiari in an interview with PokerNews, his legs felt like “putty.” He had to let fly, he genuinely thought he wouldn’t be able to physically make it to the bathroom (at all, not just “on time”), so he made the executive decision, the “aggressive call,” if you will, to try to discretely relieve himself under the table. In a bottle, not on the floor, you sicko.
After All, the Rug Really Ties the Room Together
According to a poster on Two Plus Two who was at the table, Esfandiari did not make a scene, shielding his process with a towel. In fact, the poster didn’t even know anything was going on until Esfandiari was disqualified for a “breach of etiquette.” The disqualification was reportedly done quietly; it does not sound like Magic Antonio argued.
For those wondering, it does appear that disqualification is an option in an odd situation such as this. Rule number 50 of the PCA, under “Penalties and Player Etiquette” reads as follows (emphasis mine):
All participants must behave in a courteous and civil manner during all Events and in all tournament areas. Any individual who encounters inappropriate behaviour on the part of another individual should immediately contact the Tournament Staff. This shall include, but is not limited to, any player whose personal hygiene or health has become disruptive to the other players seated at their table. The determination as to whether an individual’s personal hygiene or health is disruptive to other players shall be determined by the Tournament Staff which may, in its discretion, implement sanctions upon any such player who refuses to remedy the situation in a manner satisfactory to PSLive.
The sanctions did not have to be disqualification – they could have been a warning or orbit penalties – but tournament officials obviously felt this was worth a DQ.
To this writer’s surprise, there actually seems to be quite a large portion of the poker community that thinks what Antonio Esfandiari did was horrible, that he is some vile embarrassment to poker, that he should be banned from future tournaments. EXILE HIM!
Yes, what he did was gross. No, I would not have done it. And no, I would not want to see a guy whip out his little guy at the poker table, no matter what the reason. But you know what? When taken in context of the prop bet, it was kind of funny. Completely inappropriate, but things can be wrong and funny at the same time. I don’t disagree with his punishment and I don’t think Esfandiari did, either, but let’s not go nuts and call for his imprisonment or anything (yes, people have asked why police didn’t come and book him on indecency charges or something).
I certainly hope whatever sum he won from the prop bet was worth whatever money he may have won from the tournament. With about 100,000 in chips at the time of his disqualification, Esfandiari was doing quite well.
For his part, Esfandiari did apologize in the aforementioned interview, saying he thought was a little funny at the time, but after having time to reflect, he is upset with himself for doing something so immature.