Ben Lamb is known as one of the best Pot-Limit Omaha cash game players around. It might be about time to remove the “cash game” qualifier from that description. Coming off a runner-up finish in the $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha event at the 2011 World Series of Poker (WSOP) just a week ago, Lamb did himself one better last night, taking down Event #42, the $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Championship, banking $814,436 and his first ever WSOP gold bracelet.
The tournament was originally scheduled to span three days, but because of the large turnout and the ten level “hard stop” rule, a fourth day was added, even though just four players were remaining at the end of the third day. One of the players to make it to day three and into the money was Sam Stein, who made his own impressive Pot-Limit Omaha run. Stein was the winner of the $3,000 even in which Lamb was runner-up and while the two didn’t quite swap places this time, Stein’s 24th place finish still made for an impressive back-to-back Pot-Limit Omaha feat.
As already mentioned, Event #42 saw a large number of entrants take to the tables. In fact, it turned out to be the largest $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha tournament in World Series of Poker history. At 361 players, it topped last year’s field by 15 people and bested the previous record of 352, set in 2008. The smallest field for this tournament was in 2006, the first year that there was a Pot-Limit Omaha event at such a high buy-in, when just 218 players competed for the bracelet.
While his poker playing friends no doubt respect Lamb for his cash game prowess, several of them had already won a WSOP bracelet and had never turned down an opportunity to rib him about his naked wrist. In an interview with WSOP officials after his victory, Lamb joked, “Some of my friends would tell me that I’m a great player. But then, they would point to their own wrist and say, ‘Oh wait – I’ve won my gold bracelet. Where’s yours?”
“After winning this, now I can say back to them – I’ve got a $10,000 buy-in World Championship gold bracelet. Where’s yours?”
This year wasn’t the first where Lamb has made some nice runs at the World Series of Poker. In 2010, he placed 30th in this same event ($19,839), came 5th in the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi/Lo 8 event ($53,319), and finished 11th in the $1,500 Limit Hold’em tournament ($11,027). His biggest cash prior to yesterday was in 2009, when he finished 14th in the WSOP Main Event, winning $633,022. All told, he has ten WSOP cashes in his career for almost $2,000,000.
As for the poker play itself, Lamb was leading the field or was close to the lead throughout the final two days. He was one of five Americans at the final table and one of the leaders in all-time WSOP prize money, thanks to his second place finish a week earlier. Four players had cashed more times than Lamb had and three – John Kabbaj, Josh Tieman, and Dario Alioto – were proud owners of WSOP bracelets.
Going into the final day, Lamb had a dominant chip stack compared to his three opponents. With 4,335,000 chips, he was in great shape against John Shipley (2,705,000), Sami Kelopuro (2,155,000), and Christopher King (1,645,000). It didn’t take Lamb long to get to work, eliminating King within about half an hour. Once Kelopuro knocked on Shipley twenty minutes later, it was on to heads-up play with Lamb holding a 6,650,000 to 4,180,000 chip advantage. He actually lost the chip lead for a short time, but quickly regained it. Once he was back in command, he didn’t waste any time ending the tournament.
After a flop of As-9h-3d and about half a million chips in the pot, Lamb checked called a 240,000 chip bet from Kelopuro. Lamb checked again when a Qs came on the turn. When Kelopuro bet 675,000, though, Lamb raised the pot. Kelopuro moved all-in, prompted Lamb to make a quick call. Kelopuro showed Ac-Qc-Kd-7d for top two pair, while Lamb held 6d-5h-4s-2d, giving him both wheel and flush draws. The 5d was dealt on the river, completing the wheel for Lamb and giving him his first WSOP victory.
“It feels great,” Lamb said afterward. “The money is good. But this bracelet stays with me forever.”