For many, Randy “nanonoko” Lew is the quintessence of all those blue-collar nicknames of the poker world like grinder, zombie, humanoid or Steady Eddy. He doesn’t necessarily do it the flashy way, but putting in over five million tracked hands for well over $2M–before even taking bonuses into account–will turn some heads. It was only fitting, then, for him to spend a day of the PCA grinding out a battle to set his legacy in stone with a Guinness World Record.
A Sunday in the Bahamas for nanonoko: going face-to-face with two computer monitors; the record at stake: the most hands played in an 8-hour period with a profit.
All possible accommodations were made to fit in as many hands imaginable: PokerStars lifted table restrictions so that he could play unlimited tables (he would go on to play 24-to-40 tables at a time throughout the record bid); all hands at any stake were counted; breaks for food and even bathroom trips were left out of the question; and, most importantly, the best the poker community had to offer for this type of challenge was placed at the wheel.
Once the challenge got underway, though, the one factor that was out of anyone’s control set in: variance. The cards weren’t going Lew’s way throughout the early going, and he found himself in a $1,200 hole.
“I really was running horrible,” said Lew following the challenge. “But I was trying to stay focused like, ‘You can’t let this get to you.'”
As it turns out, his pep talk worked out just like all the movies say it should. He moved up to $5/$10NL to catch up on his losses before time ran out, and he eventually found himself narrowly back in the black.
Though his winnings were only at the smallest fraction of what he would usually stand to make in a single hand on any other work day, the live and online rail offered excitement unparalleled by his usual online sessions. “I had a crowd. Everyone clapped for me,” he said of his supporters. “I was reading chat while I was playing . . . . People were like, ‘Go, Randy, go!’ so it kept me pumped.”
Once he was back on the right side of zero, he moved down the stakes–all the way to $.01/$.02NL–to secure his gains in the waning hours. His competitor’s integrity wasn’t completely withered, though, as he resisted a crowd appeal to fold pocket aces in a three-way all in, hovering just over break-even with the buzzer imminent. The drama was short-lived as his preflop nuts held up, giving him a big enough cushion to coast to victory.
His world-record 23,493-hand session (a rate of almost 3,000 hands per hour) netted him the sweetest $7.65 profit of his now-historic career.