After 48 hours, 55 minutes and 58.5 seconds, a sleepy Damon Shulenberger was the last man standing in the Iron Man Poker Challenge, etching his name in the Guinness World Records as having won the longest continuous poker tournament.
Hosted by the Asian Poker Tour Resorts World Manila (APT-RWM), the marathon poker tourney shattered the old world record by more than 12 hours. That took place in Delaware last year and took “only” 36 hours, 34 minutes, and 41 seconds before a winner emerged.
Shulenberger, an American citizen, outlasted a field of 115 who each bought in for $700. He took home $18,240 in first place prize money, which comes to roughly $372 per hour. The runner-up was Choi Byung Kyoo, from Korea, who earned $10,670.
“I have never experienced anything like it in my life,” said Shulenger, who considers himself a recreational player. “I never did an all-nighter like some of my friends. So actually I was really an iron man virgin.”
At the half-way point of the old record, 48 players remained at Resorts World Manila on the way to poker history. Cashing required at least an 18th place finish and the bubble didn’t burst until the tourney reached its 30th hour of play. The 10-man final table was established about 2 and 1/2 hours later.
The structure of the No-Limit Hold’em event featured some special rules to ensure longevity. Players began with a starting stack of 50,000 in chips and the first ten levels all ran 60 minutes in length. The following ten levels were set at 90 minutes each, with all levels beyond the first 20 lasting two hours each.
No breaks were scheduled, but players were permitted to leave the table for as long as they liked. Of course, blinds were taken from any players not seated. Final table deals were also a no-no.
“We wanted to finish it as quickly as possible to sleep but unfortunately the structure of the tournament didn’t allow it,” said Shulenberger, with regard to the final tablists. “We were forced to go on and on and on and almost to force us to sleep in our seats.”
Heads-up action began around the 45th hour when Germany’s Sandro Simon was eliminated in third place, undoubtedly weary but $7,390 richer. More than four hours later in the marathon tourney’s final hand, Shulenberger’s A-4 managed to pair Aces on the board, sending Kyoo and his K-7 back to Korea.
Landing at the final table in 10th place was good for $1,870 for Filipino Martin Corpuz. Finishing in-the-money in 18th was another local, Wendell Davis Garcia, whose 30 continuous hours of poker play netted $1,320.
When asked how he managed to endure the longest continuous poker tourney ever, Shulenberger made sure to thank “the Asian Poker Tour girls for enlivening me with their presence.” On when he will compete in another tourney, the champ told APT organizers, “I don’t think I’ll play poker again for at least a month.”