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Aaron Todd

Aaron  Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

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Top-10 things Phil Laak should do to survive an 80-hour poker marathon

26 May 2010

By Aaron Todd
On Wednesday, June 2, Phil Laak will begin his quest to make history by breaking the Guinness World Record for the longest poker session in one sitting. The current record stands at 78 hours and change, and Phil will be looking to set the mark at 80 hours.

While I've never gone quite as far as Laak seems willing to go, I have played poker for 24 straight hours on two occasions. As a courtesy, I thought I'd provide my top-10 rules he'll need to follow in order to succeed in his quest.

10. Play lower stakes
I don't know what Phil's normal ring game stakes are, but he is a regular on GSN's "High Stakes Poker," where the buy-in is a minimum of $200,000 and the blinds are $400/$800 for the No Limit Hold'em cash game. To play at such a level in a heads-up game risky enough, but to do so when you're going to be physically and mentally drained is asking for disaster. It would be a shame to be 40 hours in and realize that you've dedicated too much of your bankroll to this little challenge and it was time to get out.

9. Invite noobs
Phil's already got this one covered. Three qualifiers from his site, Unabomber Poker, will face Phil as part of his 80-hour marathon session. No word yet on who the other players will be, but my guess is that poker pros will be lining up to take on the weary wannabe record-holder after about 20-25 hours.

8. Don't booze
Sometimes people get lucky and win while they're drinking. Just ask Scotty Nguyen and Gavin Smith. But if you are planning on surviving 80 hours of ANYTHING without sleep, you don't want to have any alcohol in your system.

7. Eat fruits and vegetables
Foods high in complex carbohydrates and fats inject a large dose of sugar quickly into the blood stream which causes a spike in insulin levels, followed shortly thereafter by a plummeting energy levels. Fruits and vegetables, however, tend to be digested more slowly, which produces a slow, steady intake of sugars in the bloodstream.

6. Listen to music
Having access to a wide variety is the key here. Listening to the same genre will eventually lead to weariness. Being able to mix it up will keep the brain alert, at least temporarily. And having some go-to music when times get really tough is also important. My own personal suggestion is Rocky-related music (especially "Eye of the Tiger" and "Gonna Fly Now") or anything by James Brown.

5. Exercise
When I started to struggle during my own 24-hour poker sessions, I found that doing 20 pushups got the blood flowing and gave me a temporary energy boost for at least 15-20 minutes.

4. Make prop bets
Staying focused on poker alone will not be enough to keep the brain active for 80 consecutive hours. Phil likes to make prop bets, as evidenced by the TV show he had with his friend Antonio Esfandiari, "I Bet You." Making bets with friends and opponents on anything and everything will keep Phil alert between hands.

3. Tweet
Any lapse of time when there's not much going on will induce heavy eyelids when Phil enters a sleep-deprived state. Filling those empty moments by updating his Twitter feed (RealPhilLaak) will give Phil something to do, but will also give him much-needed support from cyberspace as friends and fans can send encouragement his way.

2. Add gimmicks
Phil and his buddy Antonio are big fans of the seven-duece version of hold'em, whereby a player who is dealt 7-2 and wins a pot gets a bonus from his opponents for winning with the hand. A gimmick like that (I would suggest opening it up quite a bit so it happens more often) can liven up what might otherwise get very boring very fast.

1. Go big
I realize this runs counter to what I wrote at the top of this list. That said, the best way to keep alert is to make sure that the game matters. If this is just purely an exercise of staying awake, it's not going to be interesting enough for Phil to complete. Losing is going to have to be at a level where it will hurt for Phil to be involved enough to keep from falling into a deep slumber.
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