October 21, 2019

Good Call: Las Vegas with Antonio Esfandiari, Inspirato, Winter 2016

In 2012, the World Series of Poker held its most expensive tournament ever: it cost $1 million to buy into it and the top prize was more than $18 million. Antonio Esfandiari, who emigrated from Iran to the U.S. when he was a boy, finished on top and instantly became one of the best known poker players in the world. I met him in Las Vegas in October 2012 and we spent about an hour talking over an early dinner. He had the poker player’s stare; when we discussed the possibility of me writing about him his look bore through me; there was a power in his assessing that I’m sure serves him well at the poker table. Ultimately he chose to trust me with his story and I went on to play poker that night at Wynn and later at Caesar’s, where a few winning hands covered all my costs for the trip.

What to do when poker table gets unruly, SF Chronicle

Poker is a mercenary game, and when you feel like any factor is tilting the odds in your favor, take advantage of it. That said, you can offer some help to players who need it.

Gambling column: NBA title futures

If they stay healthy and new addition Andre Iguodala plays to his potential, the Warriors have a legitimate – if not huge – chance to go all the way.

Rick Smith’s luck-fueled journey to World Series of Poker

On the flop, Smith saw a queen for trips and began to leap out of his chair. Then he saw an 8, and finally a shocking, horrifying sight he’ll remember forever…

Fed ruling may clear path for legal poker

A bunch of guys in a big room playing poker: a typical scene but one that could have led to jail time for its operator. Until a federal judge said game on – here’s the story I wrote for the SF Chronicle. — By Michael Shapiro, Sept. 6, 2012 Anyone who has played poker even […]

‘Holy Rollers’ documentary about card-counting Christians

It’s clear that the young men – and one woman – of the Church Team love to play blackjack. They justify their “work” by demonizing gambling, but their excitement builds every time they step into a casino.