9th Aug 1972
Phil Laak first burst onto our TV screens at the WPT Invitational tournament February 2004, shadow-boxing and press-upping his way to victory. His crazy antics, he later said, were down to the fact that it was an invitational tournament, so no one had paid to enter, and he was amongst friends. However, he remains one of the true eccentric characters of the game.
The Unabomber moniker comes from the ever-present hood and dark glasses (now the staple garb of young players everywhere), which was reminiscent of the forensic sketch of Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski.
Born in Ireland and raised in Boston, Phil was a professional backgammon player before he turned his attention to poker full-time. His achievements include winning NBC’s Poker after Dark, defeating his long-time friend Antonio Esfandiari heads up, as well as first place in the PartyPoker.com World Open V. In 2010 he won his first bracelet, at the WSOPE Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em championship. In the same year he set the world record for the longest time spent playing poker in a single session, 115 hours.
He has been a Bluff columnist since 2005 and is widely credited with inventing the world “felted”. He is in a long-term relationship with the Hollywood actress and poker player Jennifer Tilly.
Interview: Phil Laak Gets Real