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Longest game of poker ever played

2023 Apr 27 5 min read
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Poker games can be drawn-out affairs. But what is the longest poker game ever played? We have delved into the archives and picked out a few that stand, including the game played at the Bird Cage Theatre.

1.Bird Cage Theatre (1881)

The longest poker session recorded in history dates back to the late 19th Century. Well, more specifically, the Bird Cage theatre in Arizona, USA, witnessed a marathon poker game.

In order to join the high stakes poker game, players had to stump up $1,000 as a buy in to enter. The poker game was then played continuously for 24 hours a day, seven days a week for eight years from 1881 to 1889. It is like one of those urban legends that have wound its way into history, and it is still fondly remembered. Among the most notable people that participated at some point or another at the Bird Cage, included Doc Holliday, Jim Brady, and Wyatt Earp. Mademoiselle de Granville, who was also known as the “Female Hercules” and the woman with the “iron jaw” was also one of the first acts at the venue.

The Bird Cage closed in 1892, but today, the theater gives guided tours to visitors who come to town, and they can see where the players sat when this seemingly endless game took place.

2.Phil Laak 2010 (Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas)

It would seem amiss not to curate this list without including Phil Laak in the longest poker games in history. In 2010, Phil Laak had to show true grit and determination during a World Series of Poker event staged at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Phil Laak accompanied Jennifer Tilly, who was going to play just a single session.

This professional poker player was one of the most successful of his generation, earned himself a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest poker game that lasted 115 hours, and he eclipsed the original record set by Paul Zimbler (78 hours).

It’s fair to say that Laak was firmly in the zone when playing, and he still holds the record for the longest poker game in the modern day. Laak wound up close to $7,000 in profit, and during his marathon session, reliable sources tell us he didn’t consume caffeine or have any other stimulants, and he was even allowed a 30-minute nap during one of the longest games. Even more remarkably, the game was live streamed and enjoyed by more than 100,000 people watching in the world, and it was a sheer feat of poker endurance.

3.Paul Zimbler 2009 (Empire Casino, London)

When Paul Zimbler played, he would always play with a certain zeal. Before Phil Laak firmly put the debate to the rest over the longest poker game in history, Zimbler, who was known as the “Marbella kid”, contested one of the most extraordinary poker games at a WSOP Europe event in the UK where he was up against 200 opponents.

Zimbler had an extraordinary habit of making serious money playing poker, and he won 102 of the 183 games he played. He even raised $35,000 for the Make a Wish foundation, which illustrated the respect he garnered as a professional player.

4.Dun Glen Hotel 1900s (West Virginia)

Currently, West Virginia has four legal and live poker rooms, and there was a particular game at the Dun Glen hotel in the early 1900s that evokes strong memories for the patrons. Based in Thurmond, which attracted wealthy businessmen for its silver mines. It was once one of the busiest towns in the US, the Dun Glen hotel had unofficially the longest poker game in history that spanned 14 years, and the original bar during busy sessions was a sight to behold.

Over the years, details of one of the longest poker games have been lost, so we couldn’t verify this record. Sadly, the hotel met its demise 29 years after it opened. Supposedly, there was an estimated $100,000 in losses in a fire that was believed to be set off by arsonists.

5.Larry Olmsted 2004 (Foxwood Casino, Connecticut)

Larry Olmsted was certainly a trailblazer in the game, although he was the kind of guy that could play a game for hours, such were his remarkable powers of concentration. And the Foxwood Casino was at the centre of one of the most astonishing games in poker history. Before the records tumbled, Olmsted managed to play 72 hours straight of Texas Hold’Em. Compared to some of the other instances of long playing sessions on this list, there is more information to determine the veracity of this marathon game, which etched Olmsted’s name into poker folklore.

Other memorable long poker games

While the above poker games are the longest and probably the most evocative games in history, there were some that we didn’t include but still deserve a mention. Among the verified poker games was the one that took place in 1949, and it was a seminal moment. Johnny Moss and Nick Dandalos faced off in a non-stop poker game at Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas. The game went on for five months, with breaks of four to five days in between to punctuate the action. However, during their days off, the players barely slept, so both players were mentally exhausted after their marathon session. The contest finishes when Dandalos decided to put an end to it.