If you believe everything you read in magazines and on forums then you would think that this crazy game we all love is only for the younger generation. Those same young guns would also have you believe that once a player hits the ripe old age of 30, they are completely over the hill. Try telling that to Phil Laak.
Laak is 39-years young and if you even suggested he was over the hill then I am pretty sure he would laugh in your face — loudly. You see, Laak is currently seated in an adjacent room to where I am composing this article, playing a no-limit hold'em cash game that has blinds of €25/€50, a straddle of €100 and a minimum buy-in of €5,000. Not only is he playing for what most readers of this article would consider high stakes, he has been doing so continuously for 40 hours and is in profit to the tune of €160,000! Not bad for someone who is supposedly past their best.
The man known as "The Unabomber" sat down with €20,000 at 1800 CET on Wednesday evening and is the only player from the original eight who kicked off this fantastic spectacle who has remained at the table. Laak got off to a blistering start and was up more than €19,000 within the first hour of play. By the end of the second hour he had increased that profit to €28,400 then at around 0315 CET on Thursday, he took down a massive €100,000+ pot!
In the hand he called Alec Torelli's opening raise with , Torelli held and the perfect flop for Laak landed on the middle of the felt. . Laak check-raised Torelli's continuation bet and Torelli made the call. The pair then saw the land on the turn and Torreli called another bet from Laak creating a pot of more than €30,000. The dealer then placed the on the river and Laak moved all-in for €36,000. After three minutes of deliberation Torelli made the call only to be shown a straight from Laak.
From that point on Laak never looked back, was being smacked in the face by the deck, and could do now wrong. By the time the clock read 1230 CET Thursday afternoon he was seated with a stack worth €149,550, of which €129,550 was profit!
Players came and went. Members of the media swapped shifts but Laak was there, a constant thorn in the side of his opponents. Jesse May and his guests in the commentary booth had all described Laak as not being human at one point or another, but he made a huge mistake in the early hours of Friday morning that showed what a lack of sleep can do to a poker player.
Young British pro Andy Moseley took on Laak preflop and somehow they managed to get €60,000 into the middle of the felt! Moseley held , while Laak kept his under wraps, perhaps slightly embarrassed that he had made a move with such a weak hand. The board ran out and when Laak saw Moseley's hand he inexplicably mucked what was the winning hand! His mistake became known to his opponents once it had aired on the 30-minute delayed stream and they were all in shock that Laak mucked the best hand, particularly Tony G!
That "bad beat" put a dent in Laak's profits, but he was still up more than €100,000 and a hand an hour later showed that despite having no sleep for more than 30 hours, he was still a force to be reckoned with. Again the hand involved Moseley who raised to €600 and Laak called. The flop came down , Laak checked then check-raised Moseley's continuation bet to €3,075. The young Brit called and it was off to the turn. Laak led for a pot-sized bet then called when his opponent set the price to play at a massive €17,500. The on the river was a complete blank and Laak checked its arrival. Moseley bet €31,000 and amazingly Laak folded. Why was it amazing? Because Laak held for two pair and Moseley had him crushed with the for a straight!
As the sun began to rise on Friday, the table lost the likes of Tony G, Moseley, Torelli and Sam Trickett but Laak did not lose any chips. In fact, when the game was paused for an extended two-hour break Laak had added to his stack, and was seated with a profit of €164,950.
When Laak left for a two-hour break he still looked relatively fresh, well as fresh as you would after 36-hours of high stakes poker. Let's see what he is like after what will probably be a power nap, a shower and some food, and how many of these young stars return to do battle with him.
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*Photo courtesy of the PartyPoker Blog