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October 22, 2017

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Strip Scribbles: No gold for Michael Phelps’ poker pal Antonio Esfandiari


World Poker Tour

Mike Sexton, Michael Phelps and Vince Van Patten at the World Poker Tour event at the Bellagio on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012.

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Antonio Esfandiari celebrates his birthday at Marquee in the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on Monday, Dec. 10, 2012.

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Robin Leach and the Royal Flush Girls at the World Poker Tour event at the Bellagio on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012.

It was the shock stunning elimination of the poker year! For the past three years, the game’s great Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari has made it to the Final Table of the World Poker Tour. In fact, he won it outright in 2012.

Even with good friend and Olympic champion Michael Phelps cheering him on, Antonio, who started with the chip lead, was ousted. Instead of hauling off more than $1.2 million and the cup, the Magician took 4th and $330,000. A week earlier in Montreal, Michael brought gold medal luck, but it vanished here when he even sacrificed a trip to Prague to stay here for Antonio. Antonio, Michael and friends dined at Fix during the poker weekend at the Bellagio.

Newcomer Ravi Raghavan won the big prize in the Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic. More than 500 entrants started the game at the Bellagio to generate a nearly $5 million prize pool. Now the WPT heads to Asia for the first-ever WPT event in China. Poker prince Phil Hellmuth is on a family trip with his parents to the Great Wall of China before play starts there Friday at MGM Grand Sanya resort on Hainan Island.

Meantime, Antonio celebrated his 34th birthday at Marquee in the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on Monday night. The poker pro, who is ranked No. 1 for all-time tournament poker winnings, was presented with a magic hat cake decorated with playing cards and poker chips as he partied at a VIP table on the dance floor with Michael and friends while listening to the sounds of DJ Eric DLux.

FIRST-PLACE WIN: It took maturity, poise and consistency for hometown driver B.J. Baldwin to come from behind to capture the SCORE Overall and SCORE Trophy Truck season point championship for the five-race 2012 SCORE Desert Series. He battled back from a rare did-not-finish in Round 2 in Laughlin after stopping to assist his father, MGM CityCenter chief Bobby Baldwin. For B.J., 33, it was his third SCORE Trophy Truck season point championship win but his first SCORE Overall point title.

He entered the season finale at the Baja 1000 in third place but drove solo brilliantly over the rugged 1,121.55-mile course down Mexico’s Baja California to finish far enough ahead of Las Vegas’ Rob MacCachren and Mexico’s Juan C. Lopez to add to his Trophy Truck titles won in 2006 and 2008.

B.J. originally placed 2nd in the 45th anniversary race, but a protest of apparent winners Gus Vildosola Sr. and Gus Vildosola Jr. resulted in a 90-minute penalty for Vildosola Racing, and that gave B.J. the historic victory and 407 points for the season.

Human Nature's Final Show at Imperial Palace

Human Nature's final show at Imperial Palace on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012. Launch slideshow »

NEW SHOW, NEW HOME: In a new two-year deal, Australia’s sensational singing group Human Nature has found a new Las Vegas home at the Venetian starting Jan. 19. They’d called the Imperial Palace home since arriving on the Strip from Down Under in 2009. Las Vegas resident and Motown superstar executive Smokey Robinson masterminded their stay here. They will be performing five nights each week in the 742-seat Sands Showroom.

NEW TV: Motley Crue hometown rocker Vince Neil is flying high with a new aerial reality TV show that starts filming early in the New Year. He will celebrate his pilot’s license taking to the friendly skies with his entourage to visit jet-set playgrounds. The show also will star his blonde bombshell girlfriend Las Vegas makeup expert Rain Andreani.

Yet another new Las Vegas-based TV series, this one starting on the CW on Dec. 15, is being trumpeted: “Beauty Rocks Vegas” with rockers and their model gal pals.

Vince Neil's Girls, Girls, Girls: VIP Grand Opening

The VIP grand opening of the strip club Vince Neil's Girls, Girls, Girls on Friday, April 13, 2012. Launch slideshow »


Legendary rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd headline “Chopper Live: The Revenge” on Discovery from the Hard Rock Hotel with father and son Paul Teutul Sr. and Paul Teutul Jr. with “Outlaw Garage” star Jesse James and “Fast N’ Loud” stars Richard Rawlings and Aaron Kaufman.

The Oak Ridge Boys play the downtown Golden Nugget.

Nightlife czar Jack Colton presents the 2012 Nightlife Entertainment Awards at Pure in Caesars Palace.

Cowboy Bill Martin and O’Brien & Valdez head up Rodeo Week at Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club in MGM Grand.

Greg Vaccariello is the headliner all week long at Sin City Comedy Club in Planet Hollywood.

“The Last Comic Standing” Season 1 winner Dat Phan and Marc Price headline Harrah’s Improv through Sunday night.


It’s 12-12-12 and our city goes romantic with magical weddings, our brave troops and veterans receive a royal salute at the Venetian, plus, the amazing story of Pamela Anderson and Criss Angel’s send-off of their pal Jesus “Half Animal” Villa attempting a 310-mile run on stilts from Las Vegas to L.A.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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