Winning this event allowed him to finally claim his 1st WSOP bracelet. Leading up to this victory, he was often considered one of the best poker players to have never won a WSOP event.
He is now able to join the elite of the poker world who have won a World Poker Tour event and World Series of Poker bracelet.
And just as importantly, this win means that his good buddy Antonio Esfandiari can no longer make jokes about Laak never winning a bracelet while his girlfriend Jennifer Tilly has won one! Killing off that joke may be more important than the money or the fame that came with it.
Here is what the man himself had to say about his big win “It’s super sweet. It’s Jennifer’s birthday today, so jubilation levels are at an all time high and there’s nothing like putting a little tilt on Antonio, this should tilt him a little because we are very competitive.”
To claim his prize, he would have to beat out a very tough field of almost 250 players and defeat a tough final table. Each player paid £2,500 to take part in the event.
The Final Table
He came into the final table in 3rd place in chips. Just ahead of him in 2nd place was Chris Bjorin, a very experienced Swedish pro who has many final table finishes under his belt.
When the action got three handed, Phil was able to eliminate Bjorin in a KK vs. QQ hand that got all in before the flop. A King would spike on the flop sealing the deal.
The chip leader, Andrew Pantling, held a huge chip lead with almost twice as many chips as the Unabomber at the start of the final table. He would hold on to his chip lead until the action got heads up.
Heads Up Battle
The heads up battle with Andrew Pantling would be a long and drawn out affair that lasted well over an hour.
At the start, Phil had about 750,000 in chips to Andrew’s 1,050,000.
He would slowly chip away at Pantling’s stack evening the score and it seemed like he was destined to win.
Pantling, a heads up tournament specialist who won the EPT Grand Final, Monte Carlo Heads Up No Limit Hold’em event would strike back and recover his chips to take the lead again.
The hand that would basically win the tournament for the Unabomber and be the tipping point would come on T67 all club flop that was checked through. The king of spades fell on the turn and Pantling checked again. Phil fired out an overbet at the pot, prompting Pantling to check raise the hand all in.
Laak made the massive call and showed 67 for two pair to Andrew’s 68 with a club for a flush draw and gutshot. The river was a T and Phil dodged Pantling’s many outs to win the big hand that turned the tides for good.
This one hand seems a bit crazy considering the slow battle of retribution that played out between the two leading up to this, but there is some history behind it and the Unabomber set this up perfectly by overbetting the turn on previous occasions and even showing off the bluff once to set the stage for this trap.
The final hand would see both players all in before the flop with Phil’s K5 to Andrew’s A9 of hearts. The flop would fall with two hearts on board, but Laak would hit a lucky 5 of diamonds on the turn and win the event!
The final table payouts are:
Phil Laak’s WSOP Europe win counts as the biggest and most important of his career. It was his biggest payday and he was finally able to win his 1st WSOP bracelet!