The ‘Unabomber’ Phil Laak is as famous for his wacky table talk as his impressive cash game and tournament results
Name: Phil Laak
DOB: 8th September 1972
Tournament winnings: $1.98m
Nickname: The Unabomber
Greatest moment: Playing in five seasons of High Stakes Poker
Formerly a world-class backgammon player, Dublin-born Phil Laak made his name with a series of impressive tournament cashes on the World Poker Tour throughout 2004. Rarely seen without a hooded sweater and sunglasses, the ‘Unabomber’ quickly became famous for his table banter, great friendship with Antonio Esfandiari and string of wacky prop bets.
Laak’s biggest tournament victory to date came at the 2009 PartyPoker.com World Poker Open, where he took home $250,000 and overcame a final table including Luke ‘FullFlush’ Schwartz and Mike Sexton. Phil is yet to secure a WSOP bracelet yet came close in 2005, finishing second in the $2,500 Pot-limit Hold’em event behind Johnny Chan.
Despite a string of successful tournament results, Laak makes his living primarily through cash games in the Los Angeles area. Laak has been a regular player on the famous TV show High Stakes Poker, competing in all seasons except for season one. Season 5 saw him tangle with Patrik Antonius in one of the series’ most talked-about hands. Laak bluffed all three streets with A-J, finally betting $80,000 on the river of a 3s-2h-4h-Ks-Qd board. Antonius, however, called with just Ts-4s to win the $287,400 pot.
Alongside best friend Antonio Esfandiari, Phil also presents the TV show I Bet You – which gives an insight into the poker pro’s high-stakes wagering on anything and everything. Phil Laak is also in a long-term relationship with Bullets Over Broadway actress and WSOP bracelet winner Jennifer Tilly.