LAS VEGAS — While Tulsa native Ben Lamb had his run for the World Series of Poker Main Event championship cut short in November, he still took home more than $4 million for his third-place finish and was named WSOP Player of the Year.
Lamb's performance included: a runner-up finish in a $3,000 Pot Limit Omaha event for $260,000; then winning his first WSOP championship gold bracelet and $814,000 in the same game's $10,000 world championship; he took 12th in the $10,000 No Limit Holdem Six-Handed Championship for $56,000; and eighth in $50,000 Poker Players Championship for $201,000. And amazingly, he accomplished all this while only entering eight events.
South Tulsa has always been home for Lamb. The 26-year-old attended Jenks High School, playing billiards and golf with friends when not in class. School came easy to Lamb, and he says he didn't have to study until college.
“My parents and family were great and very supportive growing up, and I had a great group of friends,” he says.
While in high school, the poker boom was well under way, and Lamb joined in the fun with friends in high school and the in college at Trinity University in San Antonio.
Winning more and more, Lamb put college on the back burner.
“I was making decent money while in college and decided to take a year off and give myself a shot at poker. That was six years ago and I've never looked back,” he says.
In Oklahoma, Lamb could often be found in poker rooms at the Creek Nation and Cherokee Casino, where he also worked as a dealer for six months. Dealing also helped teach him more about the game, and these years helped shape him into a top-notch player.
The Main Event at the World Series of Poker takes deep focus and concentration. Players who advance play for up to 12 hours per day. Tension is high and attention spans wane as bleary-eyed players riffle and count their chips. Lamb, who has lived in Las Vegas for three years, found major success in earlier WSOP events including a deep run in the 2007 Main Event, finishing 156th for $58,570. More success would follow.
From 2006-08, Lamb scored in larger tournaments online and in casinos. In the 2009 WSOP, Lamb came in the money in three events including another breakthrough in the Main Event — finishing in 14th for $633,022.
Life has definitely changed for this poker shark, including his recent purchase of a new condo in the high-end CityCenter on the Las Vegas Strip.
The location is ideal for his line of work.
“Well, obviously I have more money,” he says of his success at the tables. “I was doing well before, but this summer definitely increased my bankroll and allowed me to play the bigger games more aggressively and with deeper stacks.”
Professional poker is definitely not for everyone. The lifestyle can bring major financial swings, but Lamb seems to make it work. His daily life is a bit unorthodox and doesn't fit a 9-to-5 schedule. Lamb heads off to “work” each evening around 7 p.m., walking to the Aria or Bellagio casinos to play. Outside of poker, Lamb enjoys golf, billiards and ping-pong, and is an Oklahoma City Thunder fan.
While Lamb may not have reached his ultimate prize, the poker world can expect to hear more from this card shark — don't bet against him.
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer based in Rockwall, Texas, and editor of www.PokerTraditions.com, devoted to poker history, lore, lifestyle and people. For more information on his work, visit www.seanchaffin.com.
I was making decent money while in college and decided to take a year off and give myself a shot at poker. That was six years ago and I've never looked back.”