Shooting Star

 Which feeling is stronger? Sweet victory or the bitterness of just missing

Victory is so sweet. Defeat, as we all know, is painful. Tournament poker, as we all know, can be pure torture. Except for that one moment of glory.

Antonio EsfandiariThink about it — let’s just say the average tournament we play in has 400 runners. Out of 400 players only ONE person really and truly tastes victory. We all know that 10 percent get paid and turn a profit but I think we can all agree that only one person actually feels victorious in the end. If someone told me I would take third place in a tournament before it started, I would happily accept. However, when you get so close to victory and TASTE it and it does not come through, it’s pain. And no matter how much success or how many tournaments you have won, we always want more.

If I could rewind the clock to right before the One Drop started and someone gave me the choice to win One Drop and not win anything for another five years, I would instantly ship it. WIN the One Drop?! Not even close. But … just like all other poker players, that was not enough and sad to say I don’t think it will ever be enough. It is in our genetic coding to keep at it. I’m honestly more hungry to win today than ever before.

Just a couple of days ago, I busted ninth place in the WPT Shooting Star tournament at the Bay 101 Casino in San Jose. What’s there to be upset about? I mean really! I made some money … I had a lot of fun … and I beat out 634 other players … so why is it that I was in so much pain when I busted? Had I busted two days earlier and made no money back, I would be in no pain. Doesn’t that just sound ridiculous?! But it is what it is. That’s poker, and that’s the game we have chosen to play.

Bay 101 Casino is where I literally started playing poker about 14 years ago. Man where did the time go?! Marko Trapani was a good buddy of mine. He was the visionary behind Bay 101 and he and I had become pretty close in the early days of my career. I remember when I was just a young buck starting out. He took a particular liking to me and we used to have lunch in his office and talk old poker stories. I remember sitting in his office dreaming of being a shooting star in this tournament. Marko was the owner and operator of the Bay 101 Casino and he single-handedly had the idea of the bounty shooting star tournament. It is a great concept. Each table starts with one poker “star” and there is a hefty bounty on them if you bust them. Unfortunately for all of us, Marko passed away a few years ago. He is missed by all. And this year, I really wanted to win my own bounty!

The question is had I actually won my own bounty what would I do with it? Give it to someone close to me? Perhaps I save it and give to my kid. It was a rather cool Olympic medal-ish type of gold-colored medal. But the funny thing is it wouldn’t mean anything to anybody else but me. The actual essence of the medal only means something to me. The gift of it is meaningful but only if the person receiving it understands completely what it meant to me that I would have been able to not allow ANYBODY in the entire tournament to bust me.

Speaking of prizes … I have worn the One Drop bracelet only one time and it was on the night I won it. It is now and forever my father’s. My question is — and please I would love your opinion if you see me in person — should I wear it at a couple of poker events? I will explain why I ask that question. Some might think it’s ridiculous and that absolutely I should wear it. What you might not know is that in the poker universe it is a bit tilting when someone wears their bracelet. I’ve always needled “that” guy. Now all of a sudden I am going to be “that” guy? I have had a lot of requests to see the bracelet. It was the very first platinum bracelet awarded. I want to wear it so people can see it. So my question to you is — IF I was to wear it at a poker tournament, would I be “that” guy?

April 2013