Phil Laak Profile
Phil Laak is an iconic poker player, recognized both for his exuberant personality as exhibited in his role as "the Unabomber" or with his elaborate prop bets, and also for his on-table poker success. His first major tournament victory was the World Poker Tour Celebrity Invitational in 2004. Laak won the inaugural William Hill Poker Grand Prix in 2005, finishing runner up to Johnny Chan in a WSOP event that same year. He won the 2009 PartyPoker.com World Open V. He won his first WSOP bracelet in 2010 in London in a ₤2,500 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em event. His live tournament winnings top $2.3 million. Laak was born September 8, 1972 in Dublin, Ireland and now resides in Los Angeles, California.
Things you might not know:
- Laak, although born in Dublin, was raised on the East Coast of the U.S.
- Laak graduated from University of Massachusetts Amherst with a degree in mechanical engineering.
- Laak worked as an engineer, a repo man, a dishwasher, a stock day trader, a gardener, a broker for sports bets and a real estate investor prior to becoming a poker professional.
- Laak was a world-class backgammon player in New York City before turning his focus to poker.
- Laak began playing poker in 1999 in an underground club in New York City, but by 2003 had only played in 8 tournaments.
- Laak approached Antonio Esfandiari at a tournament to ask how he did his magic tricks and through persistence they became friends and eventually roomed together in California while beating the cash games at the Bay 101 casino and have been lifelong friends since.
- Laak originated the "Unabomber" look of pulling his hoodie over his head tight with sunglasses on to mask giving away tells, but continued over the years for entertainment purposes.
- Laak came up with the word "felted" to mean having lost all of your chips and "pay-off-wizard" for someone that often makes bad River calls.
- Laak and Esfandiari had a prop bet show called I Bet You.
- Laak and Esfandiari have been known to fly around the country to multiple high stakes home games they are invited to attend.
- Laak worke a latex mask, wig, make-up and costume in 2008 to resemble an old man to satisfy a prop bet, which the WSOP initiated a new rule to prohibit masks due to his fooling everyone that day.
- Laak has been seriously involved with actress and poker player Jennifer Tilly for over five years.
- Laak keeps his wallet in impeccable order, all bills must face the same way and be arranged from smallest to largest.
- Laak set a Guinness Book of World Records record for longest sustained live poker play in the summer of 2010 of 115 hours straight. It was subsequently beaten but was viewed by 130,000 people streaming online and raised money for Camp Sunshine.
Phil "The Unabomber" Laak has skillfully carved a unique persona in the poker world. He is a fun loving and gregarious personality while often disarming his opponents and using it to his advantage. He has a penchant for the showy, as exhibited by his Hollywood girlfriend and desire to be in numerous movies.
Laak's motto is "Living well is all about optimizing and achieving a balance between fun, freedom and fulfillment."
Laak videos showing a good call, an interview during his Guiness record, and a funny hand with Phil Hellmuth:
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