Phil Laak has made history by getting his name into the Guinness Book of World Records with the record for Poker Endurance. He played 115 hours of straight poker at the Bellagio in Las Vegas from Midday on June 2nd until 7 a.m. on June 7th.
The previous record to beat was set by Paul Zimbler at 78 hours and 45 minutes by which time Paul could hardly keep his head up. Phil aimed for 80 hours and got there without any real problems. He then decided he would go to 90 hours, 90 became 100, and eventually he made it all the way up to 115 hours to smash the record and potentially ward off any future challengers!
His Childhood Dream Comes True
As a child, he was very much like most youngsters that pick up a copy of the Guinness Book of World Records for the 1st time. They turn the pages and dream of one day making it into the great book themselves with their own World Record.
His 1st attempt was to set the pogo stick record. After 10 minutes of intense pogo sticking and near exhaustion, he became dejected at the chance of ever getting that record. His next attempt was to set the record for reciting pi. Around the same time, his math teacher said that she would give anyone an A for reciting pi to a certain point and that they could skip the entire math class if they managed. He put his all into this and spent an entire weekend studying and working at remembering pi. By the end of it, he realized that he would not be able to skip the math class or get his name into the record books.
Finally, the world of poker opened a new door to him and a new way into the record books to fulfill his lifelong dream. He was inspired after playing with Paul Zimbler and thought that this was a record that he could go for. 80 hours was an attainable goal and even if it was broken in years to come, at least he would have held the record at some point and have gotten his name in the Guinness World Record Book. He surprised himself and everyone else by clocking an amazing 115 hours of poker to smash the previous world record and set a new record that may stand the test of time.
Playing for Charity – Camp Sunshine
He kindly played on behalf of the charity – Camp Sunshine. The camp allows kids with severe illnesses to attend a camp just like normal kids would, but with 24 hour medical personnel on hand in order to assist with their ongoing needs.
He donated all of his winnings – $6,766 to the cause and was able to raise much more through donations from other players and challenges as the game went on. At one point, after playing for two and a half days, a friend offered to donate $1,000 to Camp Sunshine if the Unabomber dropped and did 30 push ups. He pulled it off no problem and made some extra cash for the kids.
The record was set at the Bellagio in Las Vegas in a $10/20 No Limit Texas Hold’em Poker game. He had a rough start and at one point was only playing with $800 in front of him after going bust twice and re-buying short. Half way through the challenge, he bought in for $100,000 and played with that oversized stack for the rest of the game.
By the end of the marathon session, he ended up with about $6,766 in winnings.
During the game, a bunch of his friends showed up to offer support and sit at the table with him. His girlfriend Jennifer Tilly was on hand to offer support day after day. His good buddy Antonio Esfandiari was also playing at the table when he broke the World Record.
World Series of Poker Champion, Scotty Nguyen popped by to cheer the Unabomber on. And Thuy Doan sat next to him at the table to clock a marathon session herself.
Full Timeline and Details
If you want to review Phil Laak’s Guinness World Record success as it happened, you can check out our news updates that monitored his attempt from his training routine leading up the record, right through to him hitting the 80 hour mark and then pushing well beyond the limits to 115 hours as it happened!
Check out our news and pictures from the big event from start to finish:
At 100 hours into the event, he blogged “Having a stellar time – no matter how this plays out – no repeats”.
It looks like this will be the first and the last time that he will aim for this record. Given the six months of training prior to the event and the enormous effort that goes into playing 115 hours of straight poker, it is hardly a journey that anyone wants to make twice.