I BET YOU is a half-hour game show slash doc slash buddy comedy. In each episode we glimpse inside the outrageous lives of best friends and uber gamblers Phil "the Unabomber" Laak and Antonio "the Magician" Esfandiari as they wander the streets of America, all the while betting and daring each other and others on anything and everything that inspires them. We'll see high-stakes wagering action on the streets, outrageous dares for big money, and event-level bets all risking our hosts' own money and pride.
The rapport and interaction between Antonio and Phil forms the backbone of the series---we're watching the top poker players in the world joust with each other, bringing their intensely competitive spirits and quirky personalities into our living rooms. We're getting a glimpse at their lifestyles, competitive friendships, and hilarious banter.
Each episode is a series of different types of stunts and bets with stakes increasing across the half-hour, culminating in a sweat-inducing event. Stylistically, the show is shot to look and feel organic and spontaneous---we're hanging out with Phil and Antonio in the cities where they play their trade. The show is a blend of betting action and the hosts' crazy lifestyle. The hosts are betting with their own money and personal dignity (pay by getting a pie in the face, having to make breakfast in bed, or getting the other person's name tattooed on their arm!).
"I love the fact that I can mess with someone's head."
- Antonio Esfandiari.
Of course you have to be able to mess with people's heads if you're gonna do the two things Antonio does outrageously well: play poker and perform magic.
27-year old Antonio was born in Iran where, ironically, it's illegal to own playing cards. At the age of 11 he was making $400 a week selling newspaper subscriptions by phone. At 21 he became a professional magician. Three years later he won the first poker tournament he ever entered, a $30 buy-in event at the Garden City Club in San Jose, CA. He's the youngest player ever to win a million dollar prize in a poker tournament and the youngest player to win a televised World Poker Tour event.
He impresses with style and sensibility every time he steps out with his posse, running up lavish tabs at top nightclubs and then gambling with his friends to see who pays. People who know him know that the party is wherever he is.
In his adopted home of Las Vegas, he enjoys exclusive VIP treatment at all of the hottest spots, and is the only dude allowed to dance on the catwalk at Tao without getting pummeled by security.
Anyone who thinks poker is a sedentary pursuit has obviously never watched - Phil "The Unabomber" Laak
Phil is known for his trademark hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses, alternately pulling the drawstring of his hood tight over his face, and throwing the hood off altogether, revealing his bleached blond rock-star hair. He cannot seem to sit still. He hops and dances around the table, kneels beside the dealer to get the first peek at the turn cards, does push-ups, and thrashes on the floor after a miracle save.
The quality of his play speaks for itself. In 2004 he won the World Poker Tour Invitational, and he finished 2nd in the 2005 World Series of Poker Pot Limit Hold'Em Event. In 2006, Phil took home £150,000 in the first annual William Hill Poker Grand Prix in London. Phil's outrageous behavior at the table has often drawn criticism from more conservative elements in the poker world, but with close to $1 million in live tournament winnings, he can pretty much act however he wants.
Despite the physical energy Laak (whose pastimes include judo, sky diving and scuba diving) brings to poker, he is a highly cerebral player who says he is driven by playing well, not by winning. He has a B.S. in mechanical engineering, and has worked as an engineer, a repo man, a data storage and transfer systems broker, a sports broker, and now describes himself as a "part-time poker degeneratum" who is also a real estate investor. In short, he's a character.