November Nine: Ben Lamb on the Final Table So Far

Lamb will start tomorrow second in chips

Some players at this year’s WSOP Main Event final table said the showing of hole cards and fifteen-minute delay didn’t have much bearing on final table action. Ben Lamb disagrees, but he also thinks he was the one who benefited most from the unprecedented levels of new information.

“It is definitely a different brand of poker,” he explained on his day off before returning for three-handed action on Tuesday. Lamb adjusted to the changes quickly though, employing a host of friends and experts to analyze plays, feed him key information, and look for any iota of information that might give him an advantage over his opponents.

“I have a team of people I am working with. We are going to do everything we can to be the most prepared. There are still $4.7 million to win.” It is this desire to cultivate the new info and make the most of it that has Lamb believing the semi-live broadcast benefitted him more than his opponents. “I always think I excel at a new way to play a game faster than other people, so I think it benefitted me the most,” he admitted.

Lamb also has experience on his side, what with six years of professional poker play to his credit. With so much experience, Lamb feels like the three month break didn’t really translate into any substantial improvement in his game. He did work during his time off though. “[I] watched every second of the footage ten times. Talked with people I respect, refined my game as much as I can. I’ve been playing for six years, but I am not going to get that much better in three months.”

When the final table began, many wondered if that preparation was paying off for the 2011 WSOP Player of the Year. He was the last player to voluntarily put a chip in the pot and played only a couple of hands during the first three or four orbits. Lamb wasn’t worried though.

“In any Sit N’ Go or final table, theoretically the best decision is to play tight until five or six handed. I wanted to try and not do that and be aggressive, but when someone raises in front of you and you have four-deuce, there is only so much you can do. I felt a little handcuffed during the first 20 hands, but it really wasn’t that nine-handed play was going to make or break the tournament.”

Now Lamb has the bracelet within reach, but he is more concerned with the money than the prestige of the title. As he recalls hands and mulls over what his future could be with the press, the millions come up multiple times. He acknowledges that might change in the future, but the $4.7 million still up for grabs is at the forefront of his mind. “It is a nice bracelet and all,” he said with a grin. “Twenty years from the now, the bracelet will probably mean more than the money, but in the immediate future, it can buy some pretty cool stuff.”

Same goes for his WSOP Player of the Year title, which he would gladly trade in exchange for the top payday. For a guy who got into poker because he, “kinda wanted to just make money,” it is a point of view that makes a lot of sense and has been working out for him so far.  Lamb knows he is up against some tough competitors, but with experience on his side, he feels good about how his game compares to his opponents’…at least for now.

“Staszko is a genius, he’s a world-class chess player, but it seems like he hasn’t really spent as much time playing poker. I think in a lot of ways he is a little more inexperienced even though he may be the smartest person at the table. I think in two or three years he could be one of the best in the world,” he predicted.

In the meantime, it is Lamb who is poised to assert himself as one of the best players in the world and the only player to win the WSOP Main Event and the WSOP Player of the Year honors if he can be the last man standing when that final river is dealt.

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