Has Phil Laak Gone Broke?
Phil Laak is an Irish-born professional Poker player and commentator, currently residing in LA, California. Laak is known best for his World Poker Tour title, one WSOP bracelet and routinely features on numerous U.S aired television shows.
Born in Dublin but raised on the U.S’ East Coast, Laak holds homes in LA and Las Vegas. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts in the field of mechanical engineering, Laak has previously worked as an engineer, a stock day trader, a real estate investor, a gardener, a repo man and a dishwasher on Cape Cod prior to entering California’s open poker game scene. He’s also a former roommate of none other than his close friend and professional player Antonio Esfandiari. Before moving West, Laak spent several years in New York City where his world-class talent for backgammon was used to great effect prior to branching out into poker.
Learning to play poker as a child, Laak’s first major tournament victory occurred at the WPT Celebrity Invitational in 2004. Since then he’s sat at the final tables of two other WPT events; the 2005 Five Diamond World Poker Classic and the Season Two Battle of Champions.
Outspoken Tournament Guru
“I used to think I was just a character in a comic strip drawn by some guy in Utah. It’s not my choice – the guy who draws the comics makes the choices.”
A fan of the quiet life and very open and honest about his poker ambitions in interviews, Laak is a likable, commendable character. Clear about his goals and aspirations, it’s easy to understand why Laak plays the game, why he enjoys it, and why other players would be wise not to underestimate him. An intelligent, charming man, Laak talks frankly about the poker scene and his earning aspirations candidly, without fluffing up the subject:
“Then, through a very fortunate series of people connections, I was able to meet the guy behind the Cake Poker Network and we hit it off. At that time they had multiple skins, but they didn’t have a skin with a “face” behind it, as I guess you’d call it. So we talked about it, and it sounded cool, and we hammered out the details of a long-term relationship. And now we’re live and running. Cake has, like, 40-odd skins, so there’s plenty of good action, because a large percentage of their sites are linked to sportsbooks and those are the kinds of players you want to play against – sports bettors and stuff. There’s a good community, too, and I’ve never been happier.”
Phil Laak’s Top Five Tournament Cashes
– 1st place for $250,000 at the 2009 PartyPoker.com World Open V Final
– 1st place for $263,49 at the 2010 WSOP £2,500 + 100No-Limit Hold’em – Six Handed
– 3rd place for $175,000 at the 2012 PartyPoker.com Premier League V No-Limit Hold’em
– 19th place for $173,723 at the 2013 WSOP $111,111 No-Limit Hold’em – One Drop High Roller (Event #47)
– 4th place for $133,377 at the 2011 WSOP £10,000 No-Limit Hold’em – Six Handed Championship
As well as finishing second to Johnny Chan at the 2005 WSOP $2,500 Pot-Limit Hold’em, Laak also beat competitor Ram Vaswani to secure the 1st place title of the William Hill Poker Grand Prix, walking away with the first prize of £150,000. Numerous Poker Royale series appearances, an appearance throughout Seasons Two to Six of GSN’s High Stakes Poker and acting as dealer on the short-running E! Hollywood Hold’em TV series, Laak has been around the poker block.
So is Phil Laak actually broke?
Well that all depends on how you look at things, although not the highest earner on the professional circuit, Laak can claim a solid history of reputable wins that hardly leave him impoverished. Although no longer playing with such regularity as he once was, Laak now writes a monthly column entitled “Being Phil Laak” for Bluff Magazine and has done since 2005. Laak also co-hosted I Bet You with Antonio Esfandiari for the Mojo Network.
Although not necessarily an active component of the tournament scene, Laak is now taking on consultancy work, writing on the subject of poker and doing exactly what he says he’s always wanted to do, live on a theoretical income that allows him to pursue the day to day pursuits he’s always wanted to without having to worry about financial security. In this sense, Laak is hardly broke, but in the poker sense, he’s got a few more big wins to claim if he wants to go down in history along with his fellow players Esfandiari, Mercier and the like.
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