Ultimate Poker, a Nevada site expected to launch real money games later this year, named Antonio Esfandiari as its brand ambassador on Tuesday.
“We’re thrilled to have Antonio Esfandiari represent our company,” Ultimate Poker Chairman Tom Breitling said in a news release. “Antonio is the ultimate champion and modern poker player. He brings the gaming lifestyle to the online arena with his work-hard, play-hard attitude.”
The release called Esfandiari the first poker pro to represent a US-licensed online poker company. “The Magician” catapulted his way to the top of tournament earnings list with his $18 million win last year in the $1 million buy-in “Big One for One Drop.” He has collected more than $23 million in tournaments, including two World Poker Tour titles and three World Series of Poker bracelets.
In mid-March, former poker pro turned MMA fighter Terrence Chan announced that he had signed with Ultimate Poker.
At present the play money site runs strictly as a facebook app, with a handful of play money ring games and tournaments, but its fan page has more than 41,000 likes.
On March 27, Ultimate Poker asked its fans: “Who’s your favorite poker pro?” The responses included Tom Dwan, Daniel Negreanu, Allen Cunningham, Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen, Scotty Nguyen, Victor Blom and Tony G. No one named Esfandiari.
The site expects to lure fans from the world’s most popular mixed martial art company: Ultimate Fighting Championship, which is owned by parent company Fertitta Entertainment. Fertitta, which runs the Stations Casinos in and around Las Vegas, founded Ultimate Gaming in 2010.
Ultimate poker has no relationship with the now-defunct UltimateBet.