Phil Laak’s 115-Hour Poker Record

In the last of our 4 part Poker series we take a look at another extraordinary player who has achieved a great feat.

Online casino games fans know all too well the danger of getting lost in a lucky streak, and spending much longer on a playing session than they intended to. But even an all-nighter pales in comparison to the feat achieved by Irish-US professional poker player Phil Laak in front of 117,000 viewers worldwide on 7 June 2010.

Laak still holds the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous poker session ever recorded: 115 hours. He set out, on 2 June, planning only to beat the record set in Las Vegas by Larry Olmsted in 2004: 72 hours and 2 minutes.

The Dublin-born San Franciscan, nicknamed The Unabomber for his trademark hoodie and sunglasses, was still going strong on Day 4, however, after smashing through Olmsted’s ceiling, so he continued the $10/$20 No Limit Hold’em session until he had clocked up 115 hours.

Laak’s bid for the record was also held in a Vegas casino, and he was allowed a five-minute break per hour. However, he could bank these if he played through, and although he saved several up to take half-hour naps, he used no stimulants at all, not even caffeine.

Jewel in a $3-Million Career

The Unabomber was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1964, but raised on the US East Coast. He honed his backgammon skills in New York, but switched to poker after moving out west. He took his first victory of note in February 2004, at the World Poker Tour Celebrity Invitational, and to date has 21 money finishes and 6 final tables in his World Series of Poker career, in which he has netted total prize money of US$3.1-million.

He also took his one WSOP tournament bracelet in 2010, the year he wrote his name in the Guinness Book of World Records. Laak’s still-unbroken record for marathon play is slightly less ambiguous than his other claim to fame. In 2012, he blundered a $67,500 winning hand to deliver the most expensive mistake in televised poker history, but amazingly, he ended up the biggest winner on the table for that session.

His Guinness World Record was hardly the biggest money-spinner of his career: after 115 hours, Laak walked away from the table up by just $6,766. However, he did it for the achievement, not the cash. Half of his winnings were donated to Camp Sunshine, a charity that ensures that sick children get to enjoy summer camp.