It is often said that you don’t play the game, you play the man (or woman). The same is true of poker. Part science, part psychology, and experienced poker players know that it’s not always the best hand or highest wager that wins.
When evenly matched, poker games can become long, drawn-out affairs as each player try to get the upper hand. Even if you think you’ve been involved in some marathon sessions, it’s nothing compared to these record-breakers.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the longest continuous poker game and the other record breakers.
Larry Olmstead, Foxwoods Casino, Connecticut (2004) – 72 hours
That’s right, a very competitive game of Texas Hold’em lasted an eyewatering 72 hours. The site of this amazing game was the Foxwoods Casino resort in Connecticut in 2004.
Paul Zimbler , Empire Casino, London (2009)- 78 hours, 25 minutes
Brit Paul Zimbler broke the existing record while raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Zimbler faced a range of players for 20 minutes at a time who had made a donation to the charity in order to face off against Zimbler.
He remained awake for the entire time, needing to be helped away from the table at the end. He won an incredible 102 our of 183 games.
Phil Laak, Bellagio Casino, Las Vegas (2009) – 115 hours
Jumping into the Guiness World Record books, Phil Laak played the longest continuous poker session, smashing Zimbler’s record. Accompanied by the actress Jennifer Tilly, Laak was watched live by nearly 150,000 people all over the world.
As Laak was playing online, a number of rules were in place in order to ensure the record was achieved fairly. This included having cameras recording him at all times and witnesses being in the room. He was allowed a five minute break every hour, which could be accumulated if not taken.
Perhaps even more impressively, he did it all without the use of coffee, energy drinks or other stimulants.
Zach Gensler (2021) – 124 hours
Though not an official record, part time player Zach Gensler from Missouri spent over 5 days playing poker in October 2021. While not officially recognized, it is often discussed in professional poker circles as being an amazing achievement. Gensler has said that he is working to achieve world record status.
The Bird Cage Theater, Tombstone Arizona – 8 years, 5 months, 3 days
Open 24/7/365, the Bird Cage theatre had whisky and women upstairs and one of the most famous poker games in history in the basement. With a buy-in of $1000, the infamous game began in 1881 and ran continuously for eight years, five months and three days. It’s estimated that over $10 million changed hands over the course of the game. Iconic figures from US history were also said to have played at one time or another including Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Diamond Jim Brady and George Hearst.
The game only ended when the town’s local mines were flooded and the town, which was built around these during silver mining boom, went best.
The DunGlen Hotel, West Virginia (1910) – 14 years
Built during the mining rush, The DunGlen Hotel was an elegant, luxurious place in an otherwise rough and tumble area. It was known for it’s high stakes poker matches that attracted players from across the country. It was owned by Thomas G McKell who loved showing off the extravagant surroundings. In 1910, he started a poker game which ran for over 14 years.
So that’s our run down of the longest continuous poker game and poker sessions in history. With records tumbling all the time, it shouldn’t be long before we see even more extreme feats of poker smarts and endurance.
How long does the average poker tournament last?
The length of a tournament depends on a number of factors including how many players, the number of tables/dealers and the rules in play. Most tournaments last a day, with some of the most famous ones lasting for three days or more.
How did the Bird Cage Theater get its name?
The famous and infamous Bird Cage Theater took it’s name from the 14 individual rooms which were suspended from the ceiling like bird cages. Customers could buy a room, female company and a bottle of whisky for the evening.
How does a game of poker end?
This really depends on the type of game you’re playing and the location. If you’re playing online, players can usually withdraw at any point. At a casino, they will usually announce when they are due to close and hour or so before this time. In matches and tournaments, a game finishes when one player wins all the chips in play and there are no buy back in opportunities or players do not take these. During record attempts for the longest continuous poker game, there may be additional rules of play.