Rollin Deep: Ice Cream Shop Owner Simon Lam Scores WPT Gardens Title

By Kevin Taylor The 17th season of the World Poker Tour got off to a fast start this week, with a field of 584 entries coming out for the first WPT Main Tour event at the Gardens Casino in Southern California. When the dust settled, it was part-time player and business owner Simon Lam who took…

Matt Clark
Jul 28, 2018

By Kevin Taylor

Simon Lam

The 17th season of the World Poker Tour got off to a fast start this week, with a field of 584 entries coming out for the first WPT Main Tour event at the Gardens Casino in Southern California. When the dust settled, it was part-time player and business owner Simon Lam who took home the title, earning a career-best $565,055 and a brand new Mercedes-Benz SLC Roadster. Lam said after the win that the victory was surreal.

“It feels amazing to see all the love and support I got and to finally take down an event in my poker career feels amazing,” Lam said. “I give this final table all the credit. They played amazing, but I just got lucky against them.”

Lam bested a tough final table, plus he had to battle with experienced players such as Jesse Yaginuma and Steve Sung that day before when playing down to the final six. However, it was his heads-up opponent, Jake Schindler, that proved to be the toughest, he said. According to Lam, it was an incredible experience to play with a player the quality of Schindler, and that he learned a lot from him.

“Jake Schindler plays amazing,” Lam said. “He’s got this game solved, so every hand you play against him you’re going to learn every street, you’re going to learn something new. He was very intimidating to play against.”

READ: Simon Lam Scoops WPT Gardens Main Event Title for $565,000 and New Car

This wasn’t the first time that Lam was on the big stage of a WPT Main Tour final table. Formerly from the East Coast, Lam finished fourth in the Season XV WPT Borgata Poker Open in 2016, taking home more than $250,000. Lam admitted he had flashbacks to that final table after losing a big hand to Men Nguyen with four players left.

“At Borgata, unfortunately, I came in fourth,” Lam said. “I thought I was going to finish fourth here too when I lost ace-king to the ace-queen of Men ‘the Master’ and I was short with four left. I thought, ‘Not this again,’ because I lost at Borgata with ace-king as well. But then I just shook it off and thought of all the experience I had in poker and just kept fighting and didn’t give up.”

READ: Jesse Sylvia Wins WPT Borgata Poker Open; Simon Lam Finishes Fourth

Simon Lam

Lam used to play full time before stepping away from the poker world on a full-time basis to dive into business. Lam has since opened up an ice cream shop in Orange County and said that he draws many similarities between poker and running a business.

“Being an entrepreneur is very similar to poker,” Lam said. “You put in your own hours, clock yourself in. Back then, when I was playing a lot of poker, I had a few guys playing under me so it was very similar to being a business owner where you have to manage your employee’s hours and watch over them.”

Lam continued on about the similarities, saying that respect is one thing that he preached both to his poker horses and his current employees at the ice cream shop he owns.

“In poker, I always told my guys to be respectable on and off the table because it’s a reflection of us and who we are and where we come from,” Lam said. “Similar in the ice cream business, where I told my employees to always be respectful and do your best for all the customers.”

As part of winning the WPT Gardens Main Event, Lam received more than just the $565,055 first-place prize. The Gardens Casino generously added a brand new 2018 Mercedes-Benz SLC Roadster to the winner’s haul, and he also earned a seat into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions. Plus, Lam scored 1,200 points in the race for the Hublot WPT Player of the Year, where he became the early frontrunner. In regards to the Mercedes, Lam was quick to say that he won’t be taking the car for himself, opting instead to give it to his sister.

“The Mercedes is going to my sister,” Lam said with a smile. “She’s been shopping around for a car for a while and hasn’t found the right one, so the whole time leading up to the final table I was saying to her, ‘Oh, you’re going to get a new car!’”

WPT Gardens Mercedes-Benz SLC Roadster

At the end of Season XVII, Lam will join fellow WPT Champions Club members in the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. The event is only open to WPT champions, and Lam is looking forward to the challenge of competing against some of the best players in the world.

“That’s going to be a really fun event,” Lam said. “Like I said before, playing against really good players you learn so much. Even if I bust the event, the experience and knowledge I will get will carry over to future events. Playing that event, even if I lose, I’m not leaving with nothing.”

Lam ended by praising the tournament staff at the Gardens Casino, who were running their first WPT Main Tour event.

“The Gardens Casino ran this event to perfection, honestly,” Lam said. “The staff was great. They dealt with Men [Nguyen] so many times. To be able to deal with that and have the patience for that, it was definitely run really well.”

Looking to win your way to a World Poker Tour event for your shot at becoming a WPT champion? Play for your chance on, where eligible VIP Members can play for over $100,000 in cash and prizes each month, including seats to WPT events, no purchase necessary.