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Ben Lamb Wins 2011 Card Player Player of the Year Award

Lamb's WSOP Domination Secures POY Top Spot


Ben Lamb Ben Lamb has officially won the title of 2011 Card Player Player of the Year, with year-end total earnings of $5,351,467 in qualified events and 6,036 POY points. The 26 year-old cash game grinder had an incredible year, made all the more impressive by the fact that the entirety of his live scores came at the 2011 World Series of Poker. Heading into the second week of June, roughly half way through the year, Lamb had exactly zero POY points and no live cashes. In a matter of a few weeks, Lamb had made five huge scores, including making his way to the final table of the WSOP Main Event. Here is a look back at his incredible run.

Lamb’s first big score came in the WSOP $3,000 pot-limit Omaha event. Lamb and 684 others put up the buy-in to create a $1,870,050 prize pool, but over three days the field was thinned down to just two: Lamb and his good friend Sam Stein. Lamb had actually taught Stein, a high stakes player in his own right with years of no-limit hold’em experience, how to play PLO. Stein started heads-up play with a 2-to-1 advantage, and in the end, the pupil won out when he made Broadway over Lamb’s king-high straight. Lamb picked up $259,918 and 1,200 POY points for his efforts.

Within a week, Lamb once again found himself deep in a PLO event. This time it was the WSOP $10,000 pot-limit Omaha championship event, which had drawn 361 entrants to build a $3,393,400 prize pool. With two tables left in the event, Lamb was one of the largest stacks and was looking to improve on his runner-up finish. “I lost to one of my best friends, playing Sam heads-up. He beat me and will always hold it over me. But it was fun, and now I have a chance to redeem myself. If I win this one I can throw it back in his face.” Lamb went on to do just that, defeating another high-stakes pro in Sami Kelopuro heads-up to earn his first WSOP gold bracelet, $814,436 and 2,160 POY points. With that, Lamb had won more than $1 million and jumped into mix in the Player of the Year race in the matter of a week.

Lamb kept his momentum going by running deep in the very next event he entered, which began the very morning after he won his first bracelet. The WSOP $10,000 six-max no-limit hold’em championship event attracted a 474-player field, building a $4,455,600 prize pool. The field was incredibly tough. The results page for this event reads like a who’s-who of the online MTT community. In the end, Lamb finished 12th for $56,140 and 120 more POY points.

Lamb looked to continue his success in the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship eight-game mix event, arguably the series’ most prestigious event. This year 128 players ponied up the massive buy-in, building a $6,144,000 prize pool. Lamb has had years of experience in the big-bet games, and had been playing mixed games for high stakes recently in Ivey’s Room at Aria. This experience and the confidence he undoubtedly had garnered from all of his recent success helped him along to yet another final table berth. The final table was televised on ESPN, with the game switching to exclusively no-limit hold’em. Lamb was short to begin the final eight, and was eliminated in eighth place when his ADiamond Suit2Spade Suit failed to improve against Scott Seiver’s AHeart SuitJSpade Suit. Lamb added $201,338 and 156 POY points to his tally, bringing his total earnings to more than $1.3 million with four huge scores in a span of just over two weeks.

To the surprise of nobody, Lamb got off to a fiery-hot start in the WSOP $10,000 Main Event as well, finishing day 1B as the chip leader. Lamb himself had to make a crack at his almost unbelievable run at the end of the day. “If you have the best hand, don’t let them fold. If you don’t have the best hand, either get them to fold or get there. That is the theory I’ve been using this whole summer (laughs). I think I’ve been playing well, but I did run well again today.” Lamb continued to build his stack as he navigated his way through the 6,865-player field until only nine remained. The November Nine broke for three months, with Lamb in fifth chip position, looking good to add many millions more in earnings and thousands of POY points to his 2011 tally.

Play resumed for the WSOP on November 6th, with nine players to be whittled down to three. Lamb eliminated Sam Holden and Eoghan O’Dea, and also dealt Matt Giannetti a crippling blow shortly before he was eliminated in fourth place, leaving Lamb second in chips with the final three set.

When play resumed three handed, Lamb quickly found himself involved in a massive pot. Pius Heinz held a sizable chip lead, with Lamb just slightly ahead of Martin Staszko. On the first hand of three-handed play, Staszko and Lamb got involved in a raising war, with Staszko eventually calling all-in with pocket sevens. Lamb has shoved with king-jack off-suit, and failed to improve, leaving him crippled. He was eliminated in third place shortly afterwards, for $4,019,635. Also, as a result of his finish, he moved into sole possession of the Player of the Year lead as well, a lead which he never relinquished.

Many players have put together incredible years on the tournament circuit, but few have done it in the way that Lamb did in 2011. Many previous Player of the Year winners had found a big score early in the year and chased POY points and money around the country and the world, playing every event they can. Lamb came from nowhere, from zero points to the top five in the span of a month with an incredible show of tournament poker skill in some of the game’s toughest and most prestigious events. Many contenders were within striking distance, but in the end they all fell short of overcoming Lamb’s incredible WSOP results.

Here is a look at all of Lamb’s 2011 scores:

Event Place Earnings POY Points
WSOP $3k Pot-Limit Omaha 2nd $259,918 1,200
WSOP $10k Pot-Limit Omaha 1st $814,436 2,160
WSOP $10k 6-Max No-Limit Hold’Em 12th $56,140 120
WSOP $50k Player’s Championship 8th $201,338 156
WSOP $10k Main Event 3rd $4,019,635 2,400
TOTALS: $5,351,467 6,036

Card Player Player of the Year Winners:

Year Player Name
1997 Men Nguyen
1998 T.J. Cloutier
1999 Tony Ma
2000 David Pham
2001 Men Nguyen
2002 T.J. Cloutier
2003 Men Nguyen
2004 Daniel Negreanu
2005 Men Nguyen
2006 Michael Mizrachi
2007 David Pham
2008 John Phan
2009 Eric Baldwin
2010 Tom Marchese
2011 Ben Lamb