Laak Dunks Esfandiari at Playground Poker Club

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Playground Poker Club, Canada’s premier poker destination, located just minutes from downtown Montreal on Highway 138, is pleased to announce that the “Laak & Esfandiari Open,” a four-day event pitting two of the poker world’s biggest names against each other from March 1st - 4th, was a resounding success.

Phil and Antonio are two of the most engaging personalities in the poker world, this event gave our players the opportunity to find that out first hand.

As the name suggests, the event saw Phil Laak and Antonio Esfandiari, along with hundreds of other players, battle it out in a variety of events tailored for everyone to have a great time while getting a shot at some very impressive prize pools.

Phil and Antonio are close friends, but that didn’t stop them from giving it their all during day 1B of the $2000 Heads Up Event. And in true Laak and Esfandiari fashion, there was an exciting prop bet to go along with it: the two agreed that whoever was knocked out of the Heads Up Event first would be subject to a “Dunk Tank Humiliation” at the other’s hands.

Both Phil and Antonio won their first match. Antonio came up against a strong competitor in his second match and was eliminated from the tournament quickly. He paced for a couple long hours, while Phil Laak battled it out against his second opponent. Urging Laak’s opponent to “take him down” as he watched from the sidelines, Antonio sighed a breath of relief when Phil was also knocked out in his second match.

Because the HU Challenge didn’t decide who was going to take an icy bath in the dunk tank in the parking lot of Playground Poker Club, the two friends carried the challenge over to the $500 Deepstack event. After a few hours of NLHE play, The Magician busted first giving The Unibomber a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give his friend a bath in 17 degree water.

To take a firsthand look at the how the dunk tank played out, visit:

“Phil and Antonio are two of the most engaging personalities in the poker world,” said Playground COO David Montour. “this event gave our players the opportunity to find that out first hand.”

The winner of the two-day, $2,000 + $200 Heads Up Challenge was Anthony Greco, who defeated Marc-Andre Ladouceur in the final Heads Up match to take down a first prize of $30,000. Ladouceur didn’t walk away empty-handed, however, claiming a second prize of $20,000.

Friday and Saturday saw the $500 + $50 NLHE Deepstack Event get underway with another day 1A and day 1B setup. Day 2 took place on Sunday. After splitting the $100,000 pot evenly Sunday morning, the five finalists played out the event for the remaining $5,000 ($3,500 to the winner, $1,500 for 2nd place).

After mounting a strong comeback, Saide Nehme beat opponent Marc-Andre Racine heads-up to claim first prize and become the 2012 Laak & Esfandiari NLHE Deepstack champion.

Sunday also marked the weekend’s closing event, a $130 + $20 + $50 Bounty tournament. The final winner of the weekend, at least from a poker standpoint, was Mark Cornelissen, who beat out Michael Korovine to take down a $3,950 1st prize. Second place earned a strong payout as well, with Korovine taking home a $2,600 consolation prize.

But the highlight of the weekend was Antonio Esfandiari’s “Dunk Tank Humiliation” Sunday evening. Antonio sat above a tank of ice-cold water dressed only in his undergarments while Phil Laak, armed with softballs and a poor aim, tried to hit the target. When Laak finally nailed it, Antonio dropped into the tank, stunned by the ice-cold temperature.

“I lost my breath for a moment when I first went in,” Esfandiari said a few minutes later, from the warm confines of Playground Poker Club. “I got out very quickly and I’m feeling just fine now.”

His good buddy thought the whole thing was pretty funny, but he was happy to get it over with.

“I really wanted to hit the target. Antonio is one of my best friends and I didn’t want to see him suffer any more than he had to!” Laak said in the aftermath of the dunking.

Dozens of cameras captured the event, and various versions of the footage are available online as the latest example of how Playground Poker Club comes through on their motto of “For Players, By Players” with their latest signature event.

For a full listing of Playground’s great promotions and more information on the event schedule, visit or contact info(at)playgroundpoker(dot)ca with any questions you may have.

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David Montour
Playground Poker Club
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