The Time I Met Phil Laak
Ok, it's time for story number 3 in the series of "The Time I met...". Obviously, the last one about Shana Hiatt (pause to drool) was the most popular. Here's the one that came to mind the most out of all the ones I have.
So I'm at Commerce Casino here in LA. For those of you that don't know, this is Poker Mecca. It's the largest poker room. Period. I think foxwoods might compare but I've never been. A typical group at their top table includes Brunson, Chan, Laak, Ivey, Neaganeu, Hellmuth, etc.
Anyways - I'm there covering an event and got to play in the media tournament. Winner gets a seat to a WPT event! To my right is Barbara Enright, a really nice (and scary when playing poker) lady who I have met and played with many times. Barbara dominates the table and I do alright, and we make our way to the "final" table where it was basically 1 idiot, 2 pros (Laak & Esfandiari), me, and 4 people from CardPlayer.com .
I'm sitting to the right of Phil Laak. So yes, I realize I'm totally F'd in this position, so I just figure the best I can make out of this situation is to have the chance to meet the guy and hope to get luck (since i was shortstacked anyways).
"Hi Phil, I'm Sean Gibson. It's a pleasure to meet you."
"Hi!!!! That's great!!!!! (genuine) Say, I noticed you did this on a hand you played 45 minutes ago. Did you realize that..." and if you think that ChuckTs or others here can break down a hand ... this guy was a walking encyclopedia of poker knowledge and statistics. I'd basically compare him to a walking version of PokerTracker and PokerStove.
About 10 minutes later he finished that one sentence. He stopped only because I was shortstacked and had MP and went all in with ATs. I got one caller with QJo and he broke down that he mucked an A, and with the amount of times my opponent had been in a hand that he was at a table for that he pinned his range to X between Y and etc etc.
I think I was more impressed with his knowledge than with the fact my opponent managed to hit quad Qs on my all in and was busted out in 8th.
Before all this, I was not at his first table (a friend of mine was) who also struck up a conversation. The gist was that he's a very nice guy, but has some form of clinical ADS (attention deficit syndrome). He'll get really passionate about a subject, get into it, and literally a second later be talking about something completely different.
I have asked a few other pros about him because he is such a compelling person. TJ Cloutier told me "Phil's from another planet that scientists haven't discovered yet," and Mike Sexton said that "Phil's only enemy at a table is himself."
In the end, he's a very nice guy in person, is happy to talk to you, and has a brain that NASA scientists would envy.