Phil Laak is one of the poker pros with a very special character. His nickname is the Unabomber which refers to the way he looks while playing with dark sunglasses and a hood. He claims to work with something he calls “higher thinking” which lets him in on the minds of the other players. Phil Laak is not only a man of the mind, but he also enjoys quite extreme sports which makes him a very interesting person around the poker table.
Phil Laak started his life in Ireland but he would grow up on the East Coast of America. His family enjoyed playing the game Tripoli with pennies and this is where Laak’s poker career truly started. In this game he developed his logic thinking for cards which he then could use in poker. Laak is a mechanical engineer with a degree from the University of Massachusetts. He has worked as an engineer, stock trader, repo man, in real estate and even as a gardener! None of these jobs would give him the same success as poker but he continues to enjoy the diversity of many interests in his private life.
Starting to Play Poker
Before Phil Laak really got into professional poker he was very serious about backgammon. He was extremely good at the game which he perfected while living in New York City. His first major break in the world of poker came in 2004 when he made the final table of the World Poker Tour. This was followed by more successes in the 2005 WPT. He started to be recognized as a very skilled player. The dark glasses and hood might be connected in his interest for reading other players’ minds. He claims that it works and his results seem to imply that he is right!
Whether Laak has psychic powers or not can be left to be debated elsewhere. The fact is that he is a very special character even without this claim. His interest in extreme sports is well known in poker circles. He likes to ride motorcycles, scuba dive, judo and skydiving and he is said to have a very competitive nature. At the poker table he has to sit still but he masters the competition very well. His unique way of speech has made many opponents lose focus for a second or two!
In the 2005 World Series of Poker Phil Laak did very well. He made the final and finished second in the $2,500 pot limit holdem event. He has appeared in various tours and TV shows and his total winnings in 2008 had exceeded $1,700,000. In 2007 he beat a poker player computer program with his friend Ali Eslami. He was crowned as the PartyPoker.com World Open V Champion in 2009 which gave him a prize of $250,000. In the final table he competed and beat his own partner actress and poker star Jennifer Tilly. In the poker magazine Bluff it is possible to read Laak’s personal take on things in his column “Being Phil Laak.”