Playing long: records and effects


Long lingering playing sessions are usual to online and live players. Top high rollers are able to maintain high level of game for 20+ hours. Famous private high stakes cash in Macao often has long sessions also. But what are possible effects?

Live players like to tell stories about them playing day after day without coffee or lunch breaks. These are quotes from 2+2 forums about playing long poker sessions:

  • “Been playing for 52 in Venetian… drank a lot. As soon as I arrived and checked in, went straight to the casino. Had a 16-hour sleep and flew home. I was 3-4 buy-ins up but finished losing a little bit. Never going to repeat that.”
  • “Year 1998. Lucky Chances Casino, 92 hours. No alcohol, just black coffee. I had some clean clothes, deodorant and a toothpaste in my van. Did everything to not fill the place with my scent. I couldn’t drive home (40 minute drive) so I had to stop – I just blacked out for 8-10 ours. Later it was all OK. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. Sessions for 9 hours are too long for me now”.
  • “I had my longest session at 20 hours. It was the last day of rakeback promo, couldn’t miss it. The most interesting part I played without a profit. But hasn’t lost: not a single dollar.”
  • “15 hours in Caesar’s, Vegas. Wanted to leave earlier but caught a great upstreal. Was up $1,500 at stakes $1/2».

It is well known that the longest positive session was held by Phil Laak. The American pro was playing for over 120 hours in a row though he had right to have 10-minute breaks every hour. This is longest poker game ever played. Or the longest poker session, should we say.


All these sessions are about getting profit… or pleasure. It is very difficult to not have sleep for 20+ hours and look happy. So let us leave just one point – profit.

So this is the hardest part. Sleep deprivation may lead to serious consequences including being slow and fuzzy in brain.

Possible consequences of long sessions

Record of being awake was set in 2007 – 274 hours! The more popular case is of Randy Gardner in 1965. 19-year old student was awake for 11 days (264 hours). After the experiment he felt himself fine.

But this is official data. According to the comments of those who watched the experiment, colonel John Ross included, Gardner was suffering of hallucinations (he took road signs for people), paranoiaб sufficient deterioration of attention and short-termed memory and so on…

Among possible consequences of sleep deprivation are:

  • Depression
  • Headache
  • Psychosis
  • Slow reaction
  • Memory losses
  • High risk of diabetes
  • Delirium
  • Serious violation of the cardiovascular system as a whole
  • Loss of reality and others

It is interesting that not all the symptoms are clear from the start. After the first night without sleep player may feel himself better because of higher dopamine level in mesolimbic system. The man is motivated, full of energy and very much positive.

But there is a price to everything.  Brain starts to shut down its parts that are responsible for planning, being rational and decision making. It all leads to an impulsive behavior what has detrimental effect on the results of the session.


Angry jungleman1

After 24 hours of sleep deprivation reaction slows down and after two or three days glucose metabolism breaks, immune system shuts down and people start to see things.

The longer the more dangerous – lethal effect is a possibility. Guinness Record Book doesn’t register such records any more due to serious danger to the health of people.

Is it worth it?

Playing for a long time in the club or casino can bring a lot of positive emotions and potential profit. Who would want to round it up at the table full of fish? But should one put his health at risk for that? Does playing long poker sessions worth it?

Everyone has his own body. Phil Laak is able to not have a sleep for several days, somebody else might be in risk for diabetes or some mental illness because of this.

Good player know himself and his abilities. Before using this “tricks” one should have practice in the form of less long sessions. Otherwise, all this might turn into bad consequences, which could ruin one’s winrate in a long run. Don’t aim for the longest poker game ever played. There is no point in breaking poker world records. Just try what’s best for your EV.


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