A little over a month ago, Phil Laak was involved in an ATV accident after an outing in Oregon with his friends Alec Torelli and Antonio Esfandiari, among others. Laak suffered some broken bones and an eye laceration. This was all after Laak endured the pain and suffering he had to go through to set the record for the longest session of poker ever played ― a feat he accomplished after 115 hours on the felt. Well, Thursday night in London, Laak feel no pain. He may, however, have been straining a tiny bit more from the extra piece of heavy gold jewelry on his wrist, but surely that was the least of his worries. That’s right folks, Phil Laak has finally captured a World Series of Poker gold bracelet in the first event of the 2010 WSOP Europe.
Laak attributed his 115-hour-long session of endurance poker to making him a better player today. He even mentioned that it’s made him a better person. During play on Day 2, Laak discussed about how he believes his brain has somehow been re-fused thanks to the amount of stress he put it through when trying to break the record. “I’ve been playing much better poker,” Laak said. “I’ve won something like 80 percent of my cash sessions since I broke the record.”
His poker game isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Laak went on to say, “I used to never cry; not at movies, not at anything. Then I saw the oil spill from BP, and when I saw the animals all covered up in oil I began balling.” More so Laak said, “Everything’s changed, it’s like I’ve been rewired. The food tastes better, I feel better, heck, even the sex is better. It’s all better!”
Now with a gold bracelet around his wrist, life is even better than ever for Laak, who came into the final day of play sitting in third position at a very tough final table that included young superstar David Peters, long-time veteran of the game and two-time bracelet holder Chris Bjorin, bracelet winner Willie Tann and massive chip leader Andrew Pantling.
Pantling began the day as chip leader with a good amount of room between himself and Bjorin. After some early confrontations with Laak that fell his way, Pantling was able to increase his chip lead. Also early on, Pantling sent the first player to the rail.
Short stacked for most of the tournament, Tann moved all-in on a flop of , and Pantling was there to make the call. Tann held pocket sevens, but they were behind the two nines for Pantling. The turn brought the and the river the to send Tann out the door in sixth place.
Next to go was Frenchman Ilan Rouah. Although Pantling was the one picking up all the chips and winning all the pots, Laak was the man who sent Rouah to the rail. Laak’s out ran the for Rouah, who was severely short stacked when the money went in preflop. The board ran out to give Laak a pair of jacks.
It wasn’t long after that before the next player hit the rail. Peters raised up the action and was called by chip leader Pantling before the two saw a flop of . Both players checked and the fell on the turn. Pantling fired a bet and Peters called again. The then hit on the river and Pantling announced that he was all-in. Peters tanked for a while and then made the call. The hero call was no good for Peters as his couldn’t beat the held by Pantling. He was out of chips and out the door in fourth place.
It took over an hour before Bjorin bowed out in third place, and it took a cooler to get him out of his chair. Bjorin couldn’t muster up much momentum throughout the day and when he looked down to see two queens, he must have felt quite the change of fate coming his way. The poker gods were only toying with him though, as Laak picked up two kings in the next seat and promptly sent Bjorin to the rail after a king hit the flop.
From there the stage was set for a long heads-up battle between Pantling and Laak. Although Pantling began with 1,078,000 to Laak’s 759,000, Laak soon pulled even and the grueling duel began. Over two and a half hours of heads-up play, the lead changed hands numerous times in what was a constant seesaw battle. There were plenty of times when it looked like one player had everything going his way, but then the tide turned with a big pot being pushed to his opponent to even things back up. It took a big double-up from Laak to finally start to close the door on the match.
With the board reading , Laak and Pantling got all of the money in the middle. Laak held the [6h} and was up against the for Pantling. When the money went in, Pantling had the most chips in play, making Laak the at-risk contender. A hit the river and Laak's hand held up with a better two pair to earn the double up. That weighted things heavily in Laak’s favor.
It didn’t take long from there, and after Pantling raised on the button, Laak sent the money in. Pantling made the call with the to see that he was up against the for Laak. The flop came down and Pantling stayed in front. He added a flush draw to his hand, which helped to eliminate some outs from Laak. Even with less of a chance to win than before, Laak somehow found the on the turn. The river card then finished things off with the and that was it.
With his girlfriend Jennifer Tilly by his side, Laak relished in his moment in front of the cameras with his new piece of jewelry. He looked like a kid on Christmas day and couldn’t be in happier form. Along with the gold bracelet, Laak took home £170,802 in prize money. Here is the list of final table payouts.
That wraps up our coverage from Event #1 here in London, but be sure to stay tuned to PokerNews for all the live coverage from the 2010 WSOP Europe. Phil Laak just won his first bracelet, don’t miss out who’s next!