Phil Laak

Champion of the inaugural William Hill Poker Grand Prix in 2006, Phil Laak is one of the more vibrant professional poker players on circuit. He is known as ‘Unabomber’ because of his propensity of wearing a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses during play, and he is also known, and loved, for his madcap antics during and after particularly tense shoot-outs.

Although he is a breath of fresh air most times on tour, he has an unbelievable poker brain and this was fully realised and celebrated when he, together with LA poker pro, Ali Eslami, took on and beat Polaris – a poker playing computer program developed by the Canadian University of Alberta.

The duo won two of the four heats at a conference for the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, which was a remarkable feat considering that the remaining two rounds consisted of only a single loss and a draw!

Laak learnt his trade as a child, but before he took the cards on professionally he studied mechanical engineering at University. His first major win was at the 2004 WPT Celebrity Invitational, and to date he has made a further two WPT final tables. He is currently regarded as one of the top ‘cash game’ poker players on circuit.

He claimed one of the weekly prizes on ‘Poker After Dark’, NBC’s televised poker offering, hammering superstars Phil Hellmuth, Doyle Brunson, Antonio Esfandiari and Erik Seidel in the process.

Larking About

Laak has a number of antics which separate him from the rest of the boys, and girls, on the circuit. He is known to hide his face in the hood of his sweatshirt during particularly large hands, and his sunglasses are legendary. On winning, he celebrates by doing push-ups and whenever he goes all-in he gets ready to leave immediately, going as far as to putting his shoes on, so that he does not hold up proceedings. His notorious sweatshirt was a gift from Gus Hansen.

Tournament Wins

  • $500 No Limit Hold Em Uncle Louie in San Jose – $15 660
  • WPT Invitational Main Event – $100 000
  • Grand final of Poker Royale: Comedians versus Pros – $55 000
  • William Hill Poker Grand Prix in Cardiff – �150 000
  • Grand Final of Poker Royale: The James Woods Gang versus The Unabombers in Temecula – $41 667
  • Poker after Dark in Las Vegas – $120 000