This is the second article of a continuous weekly series that gives you a unique opportunity to get a poker strategy question answered by one of your favorite pros. Keep an eye on Poker Central’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram page as every Monday we will be posting the pro of the week. Bryn Kenney and Daniel Negreanu have already been featured and Antonio Esfandiari is up next! 

This week, Antonio Esfandiari takes a break from Poker After Dark and Friday Night Poker appearances to answer questions from fans and followers on social media. As one of the winningest players in history, “The Magician” is as qualified as they come. Esfandiari is also all over PokerGO, with appearances in multiple original series, including Beyond the Rail, Super High Roller Club, and Pokerography, along with countless on-demand cash game replays.

Check out Esfandiari on PokerGO through the links above and then check out his answers to this week’s Ask The Pros questions.

Cash Games vs. Tournaments?

If you are starting out playing against weak opponents, which format will be more profitable and why?

There is a clear answer according to Antonio Esfandiari.

“All day, not even close cash games.” Esfandiari said, adding,” You can actually capitalize on playing against weaker opponents because the money is right there.”

Esfandiari went on to explain that in tournaments, no matter how big your edge, variance is still there.

“In a tournament, even if you are playing against bad players, you still need to run above expectation to make real money. In a cash game, you can keep grinding away at those weak players.”

GTO vs. Exploitative

Do you find yourself leaning more towards gto play against these internet players or is exploitative still your go to strategy since they don’t have as much live experience?

Over the last few years, GTO or game theory optimal play has become more and more popular. These strategies have been mostly employed by younger “internet” players, but Esfandiari prefers an exploitative approach.

“I’m not really a GTO guy, my approach has always been exploitative, situational, and player dependent.”

Moving Up

When or how do you know you are ready for the next level or high stakes in tournaments and/or cash games?

The best players are always looking to move up in stakes, but Esfandiari believes those that want to progress should tread carefully. Proper bankroll management is key, but money isn’t the only factor.

“Playing relative to your bankroll is important, but it also depends who is in those games.”

Simply put, playing against good players, no matter the stakes, is going to be more difficult than playing in easy games. Finding the balance between bankroll and game selection is key when deciding when and how you should move up or down in stakes.

Small Pair Situation

In a lower level buy-in tournament, you pull a small pocket pair in early position. How would you play this?

Esfandiari admits that question like this are difficult to answer without more information, but if you’ve watched him on Poker After Dark you know he doesn’t like folding.

“I’d open for a small raise, hope that someone calls or someone three-bets me. I call and get a set, then I take their whole stack. How can I fold a pair?”

Implied odds work in your favor in that situation, but again, Esfandiari was adamant that these spots are very situational.

Want more Antonio Esfandiari? Watch “The Magician” on-demand right now on PokerGO.

PokerGO, Antonio Esfandiari, Poker After Dark, Ask The Pros