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Farzad Bonyadi, Poker Biography

by Jennifer Newell

Born in 1959, Farzad Bonyadi hails from Tehran, Iran. Poker was a part of his youth, as an activity played with his grandfather, relatives, and neighbors. Bonyadi watched them play and had an affinity for the game from a young age.

Bonyadi first left Iran to study agriculture in Austria, and by 1983, he had moved to the United States, settling in the Los Angeles area of California. He took a job at a local casino, first as a proposition player, then a shift manager, and finally a host. His experience at Commerce Casino and Hollywood Park Casino spurred his passion for poker, and he eventually became a professional player.

Cash games were Bonyadi's primary source of income by the early 1990s, as he was a top playing in lucrative big buy-in games against names like Johnny Chan, Ted Forrest, and Howard Lederer. As fellow players began to take to the tournament circuit, Bonyadi did the same, starting with his first score in 1994 at the final table of a small limit hold'em event in Los Angeles.

In 1998, Bonyadi saw his first tournament success in a big way. He traveled to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas and won the $2K LHE tournament to collect his first bracelet and $429,940 in cash. He also final tabled a $1,500 seven-card stud split event, finishing sixth for another $15,060. And he came in 27th in the $10,000 NLHE Main Event for an additional $25K. He was officially on the poker tournament map.

Many of Bonyadi's initial successes came at the WSOP, with a final table at a $3K LHE event in 1999, fourth place in a $5K LHE in 2002, and sixth in a $2K LHE in 2003. In between, in the year 2000, he came in second place at the $5K Championship event at the Carnivale of Poker III for $201,400. In 2003, he made his first World Poker Tour final table, finishing fifth at the Legends of Poker Main Event for nearly $70K, and he finished eighth at the WPT world Poker Finals two months later for another $70K.

In 2004, Bonyadi won another WSOP bracelet, that time in a $1K deuce-to-seven triple draw event. And he took home yet another WSOP title in 2005 in a $2,500 NLHE event, which was also worth $594,960. Later in that WSOP series, he finished 41st in the Main Event for another $235,390 to make for one of his best years to date.

In the years that followed, Bonyadi accumulated more deep finishes in WPT and WSOP events, as well as final tables in preliminary events at series like the Five Diamond World Poker Classic, and the L.A. Poker Classic. Most recently, in 2011, he finished second in a $5K NLHE event at the Five Star World Poker Classic at the Bellagio, and days later, he finished second in the WPT $25K World Championship for $1,061,900. He also made a final table at the 2011 WSOP, finishing ninth in a $5K NLHE event for more than $65K.

He continues to play cash games, but he is more well-known for the $3.8 million he won in tournament poker. He was also a Full Tilt-sponsored professional online poker player for awhile.

Still residing in Southern California, Bonyadi enjoys poker's challenges but chooses to spend much of his time with his family, as they remain the center of his life.

Read Farzad Bonyadi's Profile for more information including his tournament results and total winnings.

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Jennifer Newell Jennifer Newell is a freelance writer, originally from St. Louis but now living in Los Angeles. She fell in love with poker while working at WPT and began writing about it in 2005.