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Laak Locks Up First WSOP Win
Phil “The Unabomber” Laak added a World Series of Poker bracelet win to a young career already full of great highlights in London Thursday.
And moments after locking up the 2010 WSOPE £2,500 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em title, the famously frenzied Laak had thoughts of girlfriend Jennifer Tilly and best friend Antonio Esfandiari on the brain.
“It’s super sweet,” he said. “It’s Jennifer’s birthday today, so jubilation levels are at an all time high and there’s nothing like putting a little tilt on Antonio, this should tilt him a little because we are very competitive.”
Born in Dublin, Ireland and raised on the East Coast of the United States, the 38-year old Laak has more than $2 million in career tournament earnings, including a WPT title, two other WPT final tables and now three WSOP final table appearances.
As chaotic a character as there is in poker, Laak made headlines this summer breaking the world record for the longest cash-game poker session, then breaking his arm in an ATV accident while on vacation in Oregon.
Outside of a win in the made-for-TV PartyPoker World Poker Open here in London last year, Laak’s deep runs in major tournaments were a few years behind him.
But following his eventful summer, he suddenly found deep finishes at the Partouche Poker Tour final in Cannes and the English Poker Open here in London.
Now, one event into the World Series of Poker Europe, he finds himself £170,802 richer and the owner of his first WSOP bracelet.
“The glory is not all that important to me, all though I love glory, don’t get me wrong, I’m hungry for that, but I want the money more,” he said. “I converted it on X/E and it’s like 267,000 American Dollars. Minus tip, minus entry fee; it’s still north of 260 - It’s huge.”
Total it up and Laak has quietly put together more than $630k in tournament earnings this year, his best as a pro since the height of the poker boom in 2005 when he earned a little over $700,000.
Canadian Andrew Pantling, two-time WSOP bracelet winner Chris Bjorin and Phil Laak were the only ones holding substantial stacks when the final table began Thursday, making it a three horse race from the outset.
But by the time Willie Tann, Ilan Rouah and David Peters had busted, leaving them three handed, Laak had picked up a few chips, Bjorin was the short stack and Pantling’s lead was beginning to look insurmountable.
However, it wasn’t long before Laak doubled through him once and had chipped up through him again with a timely play when Bjorin woke up with queens.
He pushed all in facing a Laak raise, but the Unabomber had kings, made the call and sent him to the rail third. Pantling still had the lead, but heads up play started with Laak right back in it.
“I got really lucky with kings versus queens against Chris,” Laak said. “If the big stack takes out the little stack, then I’m stuck with more of a middling stack. It would have been weighted like seventy-thirty and instead it was like fifty-fifty.”
The two traded the lead for a while before Laak built an almost 3:1 advantage, getting the last of Pantling’s chips when his king-five connected versus ace-ten.
The opening event of the 2010 WSOPE, the £2,500 Six-Handed drew 244 players to London's Casino at the Empire Tuesday.
Here’s how Thursday's final table finished up:
1 Phil Laak £170,802
2 Andrew Pantling £105,506
3 Chris Bjorin £70,473
4 David Peters £48,202
5 Ilan Rouah £33,617
6 Willie Tann £23,900