Poker News

Starting on June 2nd at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Phil Laak will attempt to break the world record of 78 straight hours of playing poker. You read that right, 78 straight hours! Paul Zimbler currently holds the title, which was set in late 2009.

Moreover, Laak is sending challengers from his own online poker site, Unabomber Poker, to play against him during his record-setting attempt. Poker News Daily sat down with Laak to preview this mind-boggling feat.

Poker News Daily: Thanks for joining us. Why do you want to break the poker endurance record?

Phil Laak: It’s like this: When I finished college, my friend and I bought motorcycles and wanted to travel to every state. We were going to touch the earth of every state. We did that until we got to 29 states and then things started falling apart. There is no feeling that beat the everyday sensation of driving on new roads. At first, I didn’t know why I was doing it, but later I had a huge sense of accomplishment.

I want to have the record for something. I am going to fulfill a childhood dream and it’s going to feel very cool after I get it.

PND: You’ve had a few enduro sessions of poker lasting 40 to 60 hours at a time, so you’ve had some practice. Give us some of the details of your Guinness World Record attempt.

Phil Laak: The only way I can do it is if it’s a real cash game. The $10/$20 game starting in June at the Bellagio will run straight through without breaks until the end of the World Series of Poker (WSOP). I’ve picked a smallish game so that anyone can have a crack at it. It’ll be the regular “must move” game and I’ll be in the top section.

PND: How will you be able to function for nearly 80 straight hours, or more than three consecutive days?

Phil Laak: It’s all about the body, mind, and spirit. When I knew I was going to do this, I had to get in shape. I put myself on a better diet and started exercising four to seven days per week. As far as the spirit goes, I cut out three things that are not good for my diet anyway: fried foods, cheese, and ice cream. Every time I see those foods, it takes great will power for me to resist them. I needed training on not getting what I want. My mantra for the challenge is, “In order to break, you must stay awake.”

PND: Has anyone tried to bet against you?

Phil Laak: Most people don’t want to make a bet that I can’t do it. I think if someone were to make a smart line, they would bet on me losing on a technicality. Maybe I come back from a five-minute break and am a few seconds over (the Guinness people give you a five-minute break every hour). In the spirit of a bet, I think everyone knows I have a good shot at it.

PND: What strange events have happened during previous enduro sessions?

Phil Laak: After 35 or 40 hours, weird things happen. I’ve started hallucinating about floating chips before. I’ve also totally forgotten that folding was an option.

PND: Tell us about your preparations leading up to the June 2nd start time.

Phil Laak: I’ll start on June 2nd at Noon. I’ll try to have an active day with workouts the day before. I’ll wake up at 11:00am after about 10 hours of sleep, eat breakfast, and start right away.

PND: There’s a charity twist to this, right?

Phil Laak: Yes. Half of any money I win will go to Camp Sunshine, which helps kids with life-debilitating illness. I’ll be sending out Twitter updates and will try to do a live feed on Unabomber Poker.

PND: What do members of Unabomber Poker need to do in order to face off against you in Las Vegas?

Phil Laak: We’re giving people three chances to make history. We’ll be having a $50 buy-in tournament on May 27th at 6:00pm PT. The winner will head to Las Vegas and we’ll be refunding everyone’s buy-in, making the event basically free.

Second, players can write in and whoever sends in best 100 to 250 word piece on why they should get the chance to play against a sleep deprived Unabomber will win. All submissions should be sent to [email protected] Finally, we’ll have a random drawing of anyone who plays at least one hand on Unabomber Poker.

Every winner gets three nights’ accommodation at the Bellagio. It’s open to anyone in the world, not just the United States. I hope to see everyone there.

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