Phil Laak – Poker Player Profile
Phil “The Unabomber” Laak is certainly to be counted amongst the elite of the poker world. Not only is he one of the very few players to find considerable success in both the highest stakes cash games and biggest tournaments, he is half of perhaps the most visible power couple in the poker world. In fact, he and longtime girlfriend Jennifer Tilly represent the only romantically linked pair to combine for both a WPT and WSOP victory.
Phil Laak was born in Dublin, Ireland but moved to the US early in his childhood. He stayed on the East Coast, earning a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst before finding his way west of the Mississippi to the high stakes tables of California.
Once in California, Laak combined his childhood ability in games with his highly sculpted mathematical talent into a rock-solid poker persona. He is often known as The Unabomber due to the resemblance his poker costume bore to the sketched profiles of the serial killer, Ted “The Unabomber” Kaczynski: a nondescript hooded sweatshirt with sunglasses. Many players have since followed Phil’s lead, as the sweatshirt and sunglasses are thought to shield the player from opponents’ reads.
Despite his remarkably tight play, Phil Laak is known as a boisterous and vibrant player with an often flamboyant behavior. In his famed 2005 heads-up match with Johnny Chan in the World Series of Poker $2,500 Pot Limit Hold’em event, Phil employed push-ups, flattery, song and dance in a futile effort to defeat the Orient Express. His antics, however, have earned him a remarkable level of YouTube celebrity.
Phil won a star-studded version of NBC’s Poker After Dark featuring Phil Hellmuth, Erik Seidel, Doyle Brunson, Antonio Esfandiari and Jennifer Harman. Perhaps his greatest tournament successes have occurred on the World Poker Tour with three final table appearances and one victory. But make no mistake, Phil is by and large a cash game specialist.
His exploits on GSN’s High Stakes Poker have also become the substance of YouTube. He is a regular player in both the Big Game held nightly in Bobby’s Room in the Las Vegas Bellagio and the ultra high-stakes cash games played in Hollywood and Los Angeles, CA as a whole.
Phil Laak’s relationship with Oscar nominated actress and WSOP bracelet winner Jennifer Tilly has led to further public attention for the outgoing Laak. Phil is a longtime contributor to multiple poker publications and has become a legendary prop bettor, engaging in some of the more extravagant prop bets made in the high stakes poker community.