Ben Lamb doesn’t come out of the woodwork to play many live tournaments. But on Monday, he decided to show up at Bellagio in Las Vegas for the casino’s first-ever $25,000 buy-in Mixed Game High Roller event. And it’s a good thing the former November Niner did.
The Nevada resident, scoring just his third live tournament cash since 2011, outlasted a field of 23 of the best poker players in the world. He defeated Daniel Negreanu heads-up for the title and $281,000.
Lamb, the 3rd place finisher in the 2011 WSOP Main Event (for just over $4 million), beat a mixed field in mixed games. There were old-school pros such as Negreanu and Eli Elezra, as well as some younger players, like Mike Gorodinsky and Scott Seiver.
The final hand was a typical pot-limit Omaha cooler. Negreanu flopped middle set, and Lamb hit a straight. Kid Poker hoped the board would pair-up, but had no such luck.
Don’t Call it a Comeback
Lamb was the short stack with 180,000 chips with five players remaining. Alan Richardson had a massive chip lead (870,000). With the tournament on the bubble (four places paid), ‘Benba’ needed to run it up.
With the blinds so big that luck was going to be the biggest factor, Lamb picked up a seemingly fortunate hand, but we’ll never know what he held. He bet out the set 50,000 on the turn in limit hold’em on a 7♠3♠10♣Q♣. Negreanu raised to 100,000. Lamb had a decision to make. He had just 97,000 left and needed another 50,000 to make the call. After some thought, he put the chips in the pot.
The A♦ came on the river. Benba bet out his remaining 47,000, putting the pressure on Kid Poker. If he called, he too would be effectively all-in, as he only had a few extra chips. Negreanu ended up saving his chips. Neither player showed their hand.
A Chip, a Chair, and a Lot of Skill
Negreanu was down to the ol’ chip and a chair at that point. But the all-time winningest live tournament player wasn’t about to throw in the towel without a fight. On the brink of elimination, Negreanu caught a break when Lamb busted Keith Gipson in 5th place, assuring all remaining players would get paid.
Soon after, the six-time WSOP bracelet winner started getting some cards. Before long, Daniel was the chip leader. Lamb then busted Lamar Watkinson in 4th place ($62,500).
The next player to exit Bobby’s Room was Alan Richardson ($106,260), after losing his final hand to Negreanu in Stud 8. That left two players, with Lamb holding a 1,110,000 to 890,000 advantage.
The blinds were at 40,000/80,000 when heads-up play began. That meant luck was going to be the deciding factor. It was on Lamb’s side on this day. But Negreanu added another $175,000 to his lifetime winnings. That puts him over $33 million in his career. Not bad for a high school dropout.