2011 was a banner year for Ben Lamb, literally speaking. At 26 years old, he won the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship to capture his first career World Series of Poker bracelet and $814,436 in his signature game of choice. A few weeks later, Lamb went on the run of a lifetime and locked up a spot in that year’s ‘November Nine’ in the 2011 WSOP Main Event. His third-place finish in that tournament netted him over $4 million, and gave him WSOP Player of the Year honors over runner-up Phil Hellmuth.
But after that Main Event run, Lamb wouldn’t log another cash at the WSOP for six years. It wasn’t a sudden cold streak, by any means. Instead, high-stake PLO cash games and the golf course were the places where Lamb was a regular. It was success of a different kind, and Lamb was thriving in Las Vegas outside of the limelight that tournament poker tends to cast.
After all those years away, watching friends like Shaun Deeb start to rack up bracelets and rise through the ranks, an itch started to form in Lamb’s mind. He made another WSOP Main Event final table in 2017, taking home $1 million for ninth place. And since 2021, the push for a second bracelet has been just out of reach, with four final table appearances to show. Lamb got especially close with a second in a $10,000 Short Deck event and third in the $50,000 Pot Limit Omaha High Roller in 2022.
Now, 12 years after first entering the winner’s circle at the WSOP, Lamb won his second career WSOP bracelet Tuesday in the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Championship.
“Obviously, it’s a relief,” said Lamb. “I mean, for five or six years, I didn’t really care about bracelets or winning them. I was playing high stakes cash and living my life. You didn’t see me grinding a bunch of tournaments. I think it’s the second time I played this tournament, and man, it’s a four-day grind.
“I don’t think they’re the end-all measuring stick, but [bracelets are] definitely important,” said Lamb. “I’ve played at the WSOP now for 15, 16 years. Many times, someone I’m playing golf with is like, ‘How many bracelets you got – five? six?’ No, I have one. At least I can say two now… maybe I’ll get a third this year. That’d be sweet.”
It was a dominant performance on Day 4, at a final table that also featured nine-time WSOP bracelet winner and Poker Hall of Famer Erik Seidel. Before getting to that point, though, Lamb had to fight his way through some major swings late on Day 3, and it wasn’t easy.
“I went from chip leader eight- or nine-handed to low stack, and ended up chip leader again seven-handed,” said Lamb. “Everyone gets tilted and like in my mind, I’m yelling at everyone at the table, and in a dark place, but if you think logically, I think you can just make you can just slow down, and just think before you put a chip in the pot. Don’t let that anger win.”
By the time the tournament got down to five-handed play, he had 65 percent of the chips and never really looked back.
“Cards are gonna come and go you’re gonna have hot streaks and cold streaks – and today I ran as hot as the f—ing sun, which was nice,” said Lamb. “I think I’m playing pretty good poker, and I haven’t been playing a lot, so when I have been playing, it’s fun. I’m more emotionally invested in it, focusing harder and I think that’s helping.”
Even as he celebrated his victory, Lamb couldn’t help but be reflective on the way that luck meets skill in tournament poker. For as much time as he spends on the golf course, playing for high stakes and crossing paths with legends including Tiger Woods, there’s an uncertainty to poker that’s hard to shake by comparison.
“In golf, there’s so little luck that if you go out there and you play good and like say the game is fair or whatever, you go out there and you played good,” said Lamb. “The first hour-and-a-half I had today, yeah, I played good. But I made like 30 wheels and scooped many pots. There’s always that thought in the back of your mind like, ‘Did I play good? Or did I run good?’ Or was it a combination of both?”
Lamb’s long-term results speak to his abilities, and there’s a banner in the Horseshoe with his face on it to prove it. With a $10K Championship already in the bank, Lamb enters a crowded race atop the 2023 WSOP POY standings. And while he may not grind out every $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event on offer, a chance to match Daniel Negreanu, the only two-time WSOP POY in history, is one Lamb can’t ignore.
And if he can win another bracelet or two along the way, all the better.
“You’ll definitely see me in some tournaments you wouldn’t normally see me in, whether it’s the $250K or the $10K Razz – I’ve never played the $10K Razz before,” Lamb said. “You’ll definitely see me firing a little more than usual.
“The last couple of years, I had some close shots. I was like, damn, I want another bracelet. And now to get that monkey off my back, of course, [it’s great]. But no one’s ever happy with two – or with 16.”