Phil Laak was born in Dublin, Ireland but raised in Wellesley, Massachusetts. He pursued a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Already an accomplished backgammon player, Phil Laak began playing competitive poker in 1999, but didn’t really break onto the poker scene until 2003 where he began entering tournaments more regularly. He quickly advanced to his first final table at the Bicycle Casino’s renowned Legends of Poker Main Event, as seen on the WPT’s 1st season.
What propelled Phil Laak to stardom was his uniqueness and antics. Often times when the game is intense, Phil can be seen jumping around, doing push-ups or kneeling beside the dealer to catch the first glimpse of the next card. Many deem this as curious behavior at best, however the trained poker eye knows that Phil is an expert at extracting information from his opponents, if not simply distracting them from his true hand-strength in a given hand of poker. He was dubbed “the Unabomber because he always wore a hooded sweatshirt, with the hood up, given to him by fellow poker professional Gus Hansen and sunglasses he wears at the table, making him resemble the forensic sketch of Ted Kaczynski who was known as the Unabomber.
Phil Laak has a highly developed capacity for game theory, so he appreciates games and friendly wagers of all types. His favorite poker game is Pot Limit Hold ‘Em and his favorite social sport is Ultimate Frisbee.
Phil Laak won the World Poker Tour (WPT) Celebrity Invitational in February 2004. He has made two other WPT final tables since – 6th place in both the season 2 Battle of Champions and the 2005 Five Diamond World Poker Classic. At the 2005 World Series of Poker (WSOP), Laak finished second to Johnny Chan in the $2,500 pot limit hold ’em event. Laak defeated Ram Vaswani to win the inaugural William Hill Poker Grand Prix, taking home the £150,000 first prize.He has also competed in numerous Poker Royale series.
Phil Laak appears on seasons two and three of High Stakes Poker on GSN. Served as the dealer on the short-lived television series E! Hollywood Hold’em. On NBC’s Poker After Dark Laak won the weekly prize of $120,000. The tournament was entitled “Phil Phil” because both Phil Laak and Phil Hellmuth were contenders. Laak eliminated Hellmuth, Doyle Brunson, Antonio Esfandiari, Jennifer Harman, and Erik Seidel.
Currently, he is dating Jennifer Tilly, an actress and avid poker player. She has been dubbed the “Unabombshell”. Poker fans can look forward to seeing Phil for years to come, as his personality has generated a fan-base, and he has thus embedded himself in the world of poker stardom. Phil Laak is prominently featured in the painting “Bad Boys of Poker” by Darci Faulkner. This unique and colorful painting is available from Nostalgia Art at NostalgiaArt.com. As of 2007, Laak’s total live tournament winnings exceed $1,200,000.
By Dennis B.
Dennis B. is a writer for Nostalgia Art. com where you can find accurate information about Phil Laak and other related information.