Slightly over two weeks ago, Phil “The Unabomber” Laak stepped away from the felt at a $10/$20 cash game at the Bellagio after 115 consecutive hours of playing poker, setting a new Guinness World Record. Now, reports are emerging from Europe that a group of players has eclipsed Laak’s record by a substantial margin.
According to the Cake Poker Blog, an Austrian website, and a thread on TwoPlusTwo, a group of players in Kufstein, Austria set out last weekend to break Laak’s record. Using a special setup in a hotel room in Kufstein, the seven players started play “not for money, but for honor,” according to a quote from one of the players on the website. The game was broadcast over the internet with a specially equipped RFID table in play so internet viewers could see the players’ hole cards.
Those involved in the game – called “The Glorious Seven” according to the Cake Poker Blog – included German film director and actor Max Krückl, Julia Doetsch, Erich Grünwald, Thomas Wagermeier, Rudolf Teichmann, Stephan Reischl, Nuran Karasu, and Jens Tölle. Several players dropped out at different points during the action, but Reischl, Karasu, and Tölle continued to play throughout the week. The effort of the three stopped yesterday when they broke the 135-hour mark.
One question remains however: was Laak’s endurance record actually broken? According to its website, Guinness has an extensive procedure to attempt to break any records. A record attempt has to be first cleared by Guinness officials and, after a four to six-week review process, can only proceed if the person(s) attempting the record go through an extensive confirmation process, more than likely including videotape evidence, legal affidavits from witnesses, and other paperwork. After the proper materials have been returned to Guinness, it would take six to eight weeks for the organization to confirm the record.
In the TwoPlusTwo thread, many posters state that the record was not broken because an official from Guinness wasn’t in attendance. According to the Guinness rules, it is not necessary for an attempt at a world record to be viewed by what they call a “Record Adjudicator.” The “Record Adjudicator” is an offer from Guinness to help build publicity for an event and is not necessary for the process of breaking the record.
Other posters commented on the huge difference between what the Austrian team did and what Laak did in his record breaking attempt. When Laak set the world record earlier this month, he was in the middle of one of the busiest poker rooms in Las Vegas at the Bellagio, making his task more difficult by playing in public. He also was playing at a healthy stake ($10/$20 No Limit Hold’em) for many players and was able to make a profit out of his 115 hours of play. Finally, he was limited to five-minute breaks each hour, which Laak banked to use at different times for exercise, showering, and the occasional nap.
The Austrian group seems to have laid out a perfect setup, limiting any interaction with the public. The hotel room was donated (as well as the RFID table) and no other players ever entered the game once the original seven players began. Neither on their website nor in any announcements have the stakes of the game been revealed, leading many to think that it was not a “true” poker game, but just people sitting around with nothing on the line. Finally, the website that broadcast the event had many technical difficulties and was offline during some action, leaving some to wonder what actually happened.