Time Traveler: Zach Gensler Discusses Long Hours at the Table in Poker World Record Attempt

November 10, 2021
Time Traveler: Zach Gensler Discusses Long Hours at the Table in Poker World Record Attempt

Poker pro Phil Laak accomplished what some players considered to be impossible in 2010. He played a 115-hour poker session at the Bellagio and set the Guinness world record for the feat.

Many thought this may never be topped, but Zach Gensler begged to differ. 

On Oct. 27 at 3 pm, Gensler walked into the new Resorts World poker room in Las Vegas. He sat down at the felt and set out to top Laak’s record. 

“I always knew I could put in long sessions and realized I had a chance to beat Phil Laak’s record of 115 hours,” says Gensler, who lives in Moorhead, Minnesota.

“My previous longest session was 80 hours at Aria. The poker floor [director of poker operations] Sean McCormick inspired me to try again and succeed after first meeting him.”

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Hitting the table

Gensler documented his efforts hour by hour on Twitter. He also video logged the sessions as well.

By day, Gensler does interior wood work in new houses and plays poker recreationally. His journey into the poker world started after an unfortunate incident in his life.

In 2010, his mother passed and he needed a way to escape some of the pain. Gensler began playing poker and found a bit of an escape.

“It helped keep my mind off the passing,” he says.

Some luck came early for Gensler. At the Golden Gates Casino in Black Hawk, Colorado, he hit a bad beat jackpot for a score of $80,000.

A few years later he won a table share of another bad beat jackpot for $48,000 at Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen, Minnesota. The two big wins certainly added a nice start to his poker career.

“Winning the bad beat jackpots made poker very exciting for me,” he says.

Racking up a record

After 124 hours of play at Resorts with limited breaks, Gensler completed his entry into the record books on Nov. 1 at 7 pm. He played for over five days while staying awake.

Gensler stuck to a strict schedule and didn’t use more than 15 minutes for breaks. This time was used to eat, relax, and use the restrooms.

The attempt was documented and verified by Resorts World director of poker operations Gary Hagar. All evidence will be submitted to Guinness including:

  • security footage
  • comp tracking software
  • personal vlog footage

Gensler hopes his record will be officially recognized in the next few weeks after the organization reviews the evidence. This wasn’t an easy feat and he struggled to get through some days.

“Around the 90-hour mark it began getting tough for me,” Gensler says.

Despite that, this poker warrior soldiered on.

Closing it out and the aftermath

Many poker players stopped by the poker room to check in on him and offered to buy him a meal, or just to keep him company. 

After the five days of grinding, Gensler ended up down around $1,200. At around the 115-hour mark, he’d been at about break-even. However, a downswing in the last few hours dipped his poker adventure into the red.

After completion, Gensler felt completely aware of his surroundings, but couldn’t wait to get some sleep. This will be the last time he ever goes for a session that long again. He now has another mission in mind – shifting his focus away from cash games.

“My next big thing is to win a big tournament,” he says. 

After hours and hours at the table, how did it feel to finally accomplish his goal?

“It felt awesome to achieve my goal and to keep pushing it for four bonus hours past what I intended,” he says. “I feel well rested now, but it took about a full week for my body and mind to fully recover.”

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