Poker Coverage:

Phil Laak Records First Career World Series Of Poker Main Event Cash

Laak: 'Trick To Poker Is To Just See The Next Hand'


One of the remaining players during about the mid-point in play on Saturday on the fourth day of the 2015 World Series of Poker main event was high-stakes poker pro and bracelet winner Phil Laak. By making the top 1,000 yesterday, Laak recorded his first ever main event cash. Laak was playing about the average stack with less than 500 left on Saturday.

“It feels like this tournament is two tournaments,” Laak told Card Player. “One is getting into the money, then the tournament when you are in the money.”

It had been a grueling three days of poker for each player before Saturday, but Laak, who once had the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous poker session, has not been fazed.

“Poker is all adrenaline, no batteries required,” Laak said.

In the summer of 2010, Laak played a 115-hour poker session at the Bellagio, smashing the previous record by 37 hours. Laak left the $10-$20 no-limit hold’em cash game with a $6,766 profit.

The experience five years ago is something he’s looking to tap back into should he make it to day 7 of the main event. Staying sharp and having extreme patience shouldn’t be an issue for him if he can get back into the mindset that allowed him to play a 115-hour session.

“I developed will power techniques that I didn’t even know were possible,” Laak said, “like the super-human stuff you read about, the Nepalese Breatharians, all that stuff. I am not there, but I tasted what it was like to be there, to be on this shimmering edge of super-will. It was like a reawakening.”

The 42-year-old has built upon that experience on the felt to continue his progression toward being able to put everything that happens to him in perspective. It helps tremendously for dealing with a bad beat or a cooler situation in a poker tournament.

“I’ve become an excellent framer,” Laak said. “When I wiped out in that ATV accident I knew I was a mess. Before that accident I had numerous things happen to my body because I was an idiot on skateboards, motorcycles. I did a body appraisal and the first thing I noticed was that my right eye was massively messed up. I could feel that the skin was hanging off, it was full of sand, but then I could see through all the dirt. I almost cried in happiness because I could see. I knew I was going to have my sight…I was laughing and making jokes later when I realized I could move my fingers.”

Just surviving is something Laak doesn’t take for granted, and that applies to his poker game as well. He doesn’t really care if his chip stack isn’t the same as or more than what he began the day with, as long as he’s playing well and focusing on picking good spots.

“The trick to [tournament] poker is to just see the next hand,” Laak said. “If you see the next hand you’ll come in first or second. All you have to do is stay alive to the next hand.”

For more coverage from the summer series, visit the 2015 WSOP landing page, complete with a full schedule, news, player interviews and event recaps.