Laak learned to play poker as a child. His first major tournament victory was at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Celebrity Invitational in February 2004. He has made two other WPT final tables since his victory: sixth place in both the season two Battle of Champions and the 2005 Five Diamond World Poker Classic.
He is currently dating Actress Jennifer Tilly, who won a WSOP bracelet in 2005 in the $1,000 buy-in Ladies no limit Texas hold 'em championship.
At the 2007 conference of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence in Vancouver, British Columbia, Laak and fellow professional player Ali Eslami competed against, and beat, Polaris, a poker playing computer program developed at the University of Alberta, in two of the four rounds with the remaining rounds being a loss and a draw.
Phil Laak played the first day of the Main Event of the 2008 World Series of Poker incognito, in a latex mask, wig, make-up and costume. His disguise was reported thereafter by AP reporter Oskar Garcia. The WSOP 2009 rules added a new rule prohibiting wearing masks at the table.
In October 2009, Laak was crowned PartyPoker.com World Open V champion winning $250,000 in the process. He overcame a final table that included Luke 'FullFlush' Schwartz and Laak's long-term partner - Actress and poker pro Jennifer Tilly.
On September 16, 2010, Laak won his first career WSOP bracelet by winning the ₤2,500 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em championship at the 2010 World Series of Poker Europe. His win came after an accident involving an all-terrain vehicle in August, where he suffered a broken elbow amongst other injuries.
On April 12, 2012, Laak plays live at The Big Game and mucks a €63,750 winning hand on TV setting a record as the biggest televised poker blunder in history. Amazingly, Laak successfully ends the same poker session as the biggest winner at the table.
On June 2–7, 2010, at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Laak set the world record in longest time spent playing poker in a single session. He halted at 115 hours. The previous official record, 72 hours and 2 minutes, was held by Larry Olmsted, set at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in 2004. Guinness allows one 5-minute break every hour, in which Laak could do whatever he wanted, and Laak could "bank" those 5-minute breaks into longer breaks if he played through. Laak banked several breaks to take a 30-minute nap (allowed), but he vows that he did not use caffeine or any stimulants. Playing $10/$20 No Limit Hold'em (with uncapped buyins), Laak finished up $6,766 and donated half of his winnings to charity. He did this for Camp Sunshine, a charity that helps sick children enjoy summer camp. His feat was witnessed live on streaming video by over 130,000 people.
As of 2014, his total live tournament winnings exceed $3,100,000.