Outside it’s a typical June day here in Las Vegas, with the sun beating down and the desert wind kicking up dust. Inside the crowded Bellagio poker room it’s business as usual as well, with one small exception – our man Phil Laak is trying to break the Guinness record for the longest individual poker playing endurance marathon in world history.
To put it lightly, this attempt is an extreme test of endurance. Phil’s going for 80 hours of poker, and he’s allotted just five minutes of break time for every consecutive hour of poker that he plays. That adds up to just 6 hours and 40 minutes of break time over the course of three and a half days. He can build them up and use them all together (e.g. he could take a 30-minute break after playing for six straight hours), and he can use the break time for anything he wants – using the bathroom, grabbing a meal, or even sleeping.
However, there are some limitations – for instance, he can’t build up a bunch of break time and then tack it on at the end as part of the marathon record. Every accounted minute of the record attempt has to be spent at the poker table. The good news is that the use of those break minutes is at his discretion – which means there will be some strategic issues to consider. Is it better to take frequent, short breaks to stay fresh? Or is the best method to grind out a long string of hours and then catch a few Z’s?
Phil got his world record attempt started at 12:04pm PT today. If he can make it to the end, he should break the record around 7pm PT on Saturday evening. He’s playing full-ring $10/$20 no-limit hold’em with a table full of grinders, and just an hour in there were already a few interested observers hanging around. And the players hanging around the periphery of the Bellagio poker room waiting on games are talking about him – they don’t all seem to know exactly what this whole thing is all about, but they definitely know who Phil is and they know he’s up to something special, since there are cameras recording his every move to document the attempt for Guinness.
It’s far from a guarantee that he’ll break the record – but if anybody’s got this kind of feat in them, it’s Phil Laak. Whether he makes it or not, I’ll be checking in on him the entire way, so make sure to keep an eye on this blog for more updates from the Bellagio. And be sure to check out Phil’s Twitter feed, as well as the live stream that’s following his every move.