During the height of the poker boom, the Rio Convention Center was filled with crazy hats and outlandish outfits during the World Series of Poker’s Main Event.
These days, many of the players show up for the $10,000 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold ’em World Championship wearing flip-flops and hoodies.
But at least one player is keeping alive the tradition of eccentric ensembles: Phil Laak.
Nicknamed “Unabomber” for his trademark hooded-sweatshirt-and-sunglasses look at the poker table, Laak arrived for Day 1A of the Main Event on Saturday wearing shiny silver pants and a matching silver jacket to go along with giant bugeye goggles.
Laak looked like he walked straight off the playa at Burning Man, or showed up for the Electric Daisy Carnival two weeks late. Take your pick.
The 41-year-old Laak is best known as the longtime boyfriend of actress/poker player Jennifer Tilly and is one of the top tournament players, with $1,070,902 in career WSOP earnings. He won the £2,650 buy-in Six-Handed No-limit Hold ’em event at the WSOP Europe in 2010 and cashed in six events this summer, including a sixth-place finish in the $5,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha Six-Handed tournament.
Laak’s outfit didn’t bring him much luck, however, as he was eliminated Saturday night.
BIG STACKS FOR FORMER CHAMPS: Johnny Chan did not play in any of the first 64 events at the WSOP this summer, focusing on cash games instead. But he was at the Rio on Saturday.
Chan, the 1987 and 1988 Main Event champion, owned one of the biggest stacks in the Amazon Room for much of the evening. During the final level of action, the 10-time WSOP bracelet winner won a big pot against 2013 Poker Players Championship winner Matthew Ashton with a full house and had more than 100,000 chips.
Another former champion also was off to a strong start. Chris Moneymaker, who won it all in 2003, was up to 90,000 chips at one point during the final level before giving some of it back. Moneymaker has not cashed in the Main Event since his historic victory 11 years ago but has made the second day eight of the past 10 years.
Contact reporter David Schoen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.