Saturday, July 09, 2011

2011 WSOP Day 39 - Main Event Day 1B: Luck Rack of Lamb

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Buddha once said that "life is suffering."

Buddha must have been a poker player, particularly a tournament player. Doesn't matter if a tournament has 10 runners or 10,000, because everyone except the winner cannot avoid an insufferable ending.

At the WSOP Main Event, a slew of amateurs might have qualified through satellites at a discounted price, so for a few of them a min-cash is simply delightful and anything else is gravy. But for the players whom consider themselves professionals, the adage fits -- the day you get knocked out of the Main Event is the saddest, most depressing, and demoralizing day of the year.

Which begs the question -- why do some of us live and some of us die?

I've often pondered that question while sitting at a poker table in Las Vegas chasing a one outer for my tournament life, or atop of Machu Picchu pondering the existence of extraterrestrial and the tremendous power of the sun god, or thanking a higher power (whether it's God, Buddha, or Mohamed0 that an airbag deployed just in time as your entire life flashes before your eyes.

I guess it all depends on how you view life and which side of the free will vs. determinism side of the debate you fall on. I know a few people who think that poker is all about skill, while others say it's about being skillful but also putting yourself in a position to get lucky. Then again, if a total donk and luckbox wins a bracelet (or even the Main Event), rest assured all the boo birds and haters will come out in droves to diminish the feat. I've seen it more often than not when luck trumps skill.

Ben Lamb
Photo courtesy of Winamax

Let me introduce you to Ben Lamb. His run at the 2011 WSOP is the epitomize of skill. He's sitting in second place in the Player of the Year race, right behind Phil Hellmuth. Unlike Hellmuth, Lamb won a bracelet this summer along with three final table appearances including 8th place in the $50,000 Players' Championship. Had Lamb gone deeper in that event instead of Hellmuth, he'd be out in front and Hellmuth would be chasing him.

Hellmuth has yet to set foot inside the Amazon Ballroom. There's been plenty of speculation about how he'll top previous gaudy entrances, but without UB to fund such over-the-top publicity stunts (All Hail Ceasar, the race car, the military parade, etc.), will Hellmuth eat a slice of humble pie and walk in the backdoor unannounced and quietly take his seat? Ha, fat chance. Hellmuth is a whore for attention, and he knows how to manipulate the show business aspect of poker as well as any pro in the game.

Ben Lamb didn't arrive with a harem of models or with a menagerie of press photographing his march down the corridor of the convention center. Instead, a laid-back Lamb walked into the Amazon Room just like the other 977 participants on Day 1B. Although Lamb has put up phenomenal numbers this summer and should be lauded as a god among mortals, if you've never seen his picture before, he could easily blend into the sea of runners and easily be mistaken as Joe from your homegame, or if you give him a garish hoodie, he could easily be mistaken as a Scandi donk.

Ben Lamb ended Day 1B as the overall leader. History is against him because chipleaders on Day 1s rarely, if ever, go deep. Then again, Ben Lamb could be the guy who flips the bird at history and decides that he'll be the first player to break that hex. One thing is for sure, there's still almost two weeks of poker left over before the final nine are left standing and have to return to the Rio in November to play out the final table, but lots of industry experts think that the way Ben Lamb has been running this summer -- he'll be a lock for the November Nine.

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If you like numbers...
Day 1A: 897
Day 1B: 978
Day 1C: ???
Day 1D: ???
According to a friend at the cage, Day 1C is expected to have 2,000 players and Day 1D even more so. That means the 6,000-mark is well within reach. I guess we'll have to wait and see how many actually show up on Saturday (1C) and how many lazy-asses wait until Sunday (1D). But because of the final two flights are on the weekend, the numbers should be enough to push the Main Event totals over 6,000. Alas, I have an UNDER bet at that mark, but plenty of over bets in the 5,500 department.

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Follow @taopauly for Twitter updates throughout the day.

Also, help support indie writers and buy my books: Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers and the World Series of Poker, and my recently released novel, Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. Both are also available for Kindles and iPads.

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