EPT9 Grand Final High Roller: Antonio Esfandiari keeping his feet on the ground

To see Antonio Esfandiari is to see a man in perfect health. Since winning the Big One for One Drop last year he's looked a million dollars - actually 18 million dollars. He sits in his high roller seat in an aqua-coloured t-shirt that clings to him, and some sweat pants. He's also barefoot; his bronze skin glows with vigour and his hair is slicked, like he emerged from the waves this morning, escorted by mermaids perhaps. No hotel for Esfandiari, he lives in an aquatic paradise under the sea.

So it's a wonder why he would need a massage in the first place. He looks pretty relaxed to me. The massage therapist on the other hand leans into her work, working harder than ever to find anything, one tendon or a sinew, that might actually need loosening. She finds none in his shoulders so works her way down to his back, and legs, finally settling with his feet, which she sat on the floor to tend.

They look like near perfect feet, callus and carbuncle free, to the point where you wonder if he's ever walked on them. Perhaps he's carried everywhere. Maybe he floats. Either way there is not of that muck and filth you normally find turning your toes black when you walk barefoot on somebody else's carpet.

Antonio Esfandiari using his regular mode of transport

Earlier Daniel Negreanu had dropped off vegan food, shopping bags full with punnets of pure health. This is the stuff that powers Esfandiari, leaves and vegetables, with half a banana. This is the food your doctor tells you you're supposed to eat, but which you remember only when you're in line to pay for a cheeky McFlurry.

Esfandiari eats and watches. Opposite him two players tangle in a hand, one looks tense, while the other, in comparison to Esfandiari, looks like he was dragged here through a forest. They play a hand, using chips coloured to match Esfandiari's clothes, while he looks on, polishing off his box of delights.

Left with nowhere else to go the massage therapist eventually surrenders, slapping his shoulders, beaten, leaving him upright and refreshed. It could be that this wasn't a massage. Maybe she was just holding him down, preventing him from floating away.

Either way Esfandiari looks every inch the highest of high rollers.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.

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Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in High Roller