Zach Gensler chases Phil Laak’s Guinness world record for longest poker session

Kat Martin
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Posted on October 28, 2021 6:14 pm EDT

Update 11/2/21: Zach Gensler claims to have broken the world record for the longest marathon poker session ever at 124 hours of uninterrupted play. The tweet below (retweeted by poker great Phil Hellmuth) says it all, though the Guinness organization has yet to confirm the record:

Poker is a game that attracts superlatives.

There is currently speculation at the WSOP that this year’s Main Event may be the biggest in its 52-year history. A buzz has similarly been generated in Las Vegas by the prospect of the Bilzerian-Gores heads-up match, which would be played for the highest stakes ever.

The official arbiter of the biggest, longest and highest anything is the Guinness Book Of World Records. And at Resorts World in Las Vegas, Zach Gensler of Minnesota is trying to get his name on its pages.

In June 2010, Phil “The Unabomber” Laak played poker continuously for 115 hours at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, setting the mark that still stands today. But if Gensler achieves his goal, by next week the record will have fallen.

Why do it?

Poker.org contacted Gensler and led off with a simple question: Why do it?

“I’m doing it because I want to be part of poker history,” he told us. “I would like to be on the show Survivor and might catch Jeff Probst’s attention.”

Such a feat of endurance would make an excellent résumé entry on a Survivor application, but Gensler elaborated on the special importance poker has for him.

“Poker saved my life! My mom passed away when she was on vacation in Texas in 2008. And I was very depressed. Then I found poker and enjoyed it so much! I hit a couple large bad-beat jackpots; one at Shooting Star casino in Minnesota and one at Golden Gates casino, Colorado.”

Gensler has been planning the world-record attempt for some time. In 2019 he completed an 80-hour training session at the Aria. In our conversation, Gensler noted that Sean McCormack — Aria’s Director of Poker Operations — has been particularly supportive of his record-breaking attempt.

Gary Hager (left) and Zach Gensler immediately before the marathon poker session at Resorts World, Las Vegas. (Credit: Twitter/Zach Gensler.)

While the warm-up took place at Aria, it’s Resorts World that will have the opportunity to join Gensler in the record books if he is successful. Gary Hager, who is Director of Poker Operations at the property, revealed more details about the challenge:

“He [Gensler] didn’t ask much from us other than if we would like him to go for it in our room. We put together a special clock with 100, 60-minute levels so its easy to see where he is at in each photo or twitter post. He is asking for signatures and names of witnesses to substantiate the record. He is also taking small videos and storing on memory cards to document the session.”

Gensler will have some opportunity to power nap during the marathon. By rule, he gets a five-minute break every hour that can be “banked.”

“I plan on sleeping at 48 hours for three hours and again at 96 hours,” Gensler told Poker.org.

You can watch the hourly video update of the record-setting attempt via Gensler’s Twitter account.

Featured image source: Twitter