Name: Ben Lamb
Hometown: Tulsa, OK
Chip Count: 20,875,000 (ranks 5th)
Profession: Professional Poker Player
Years Attended WSOP: 5
The afternoon after the November Nine was reached, each player sat for an interview with the WSOP’s Nolan Dalla. Below are excerpts from those conversations:
Question: This has been an amazing year for you at the WSOP. Could you have possibly dreamed things would go so well?
Lamb: No. I've come close to winning gold bracelets before. I've had a lot of Day Three’s. So, winning a gold bracelet was an achievable goal. I just figured that within the first five years or so, I would win a bracelet. But then to finish second and then come back and win a bracelet, and have two more deep runs, and then go deep in the Main Event -- I could never have thought this would be possible for anyone, let alone me. Especially since I don't specialize in tournaments. I think I play them well. But I don't play that many. I don't travel around and play tournaments everywhere. So, this is way beyond what I could have hoped would happen.
Question: After you won your gold bracelet, it seemed like you took a very businesslike approach to the game and to your first victory. But during the Main Event, you appear to have enjoyed yourself more and been much more engaging at the table. Are you enjoying yourself more now, since things have gone so well?
Lamb: Well, when you are winning, everything is fun. For example, roulette is probably the most boring game in the world. But if you are winning at it, then it's a lot of fun. In poker, if you are winning or making a lot of money, then it's fun. So, because I have done so well and have been successful, well -- yeah, I am having the time of my life. It will be a summer I will never forget, that's for sure.
Question: Much of the media has had fun with your last name. For instance -- 'Lamb Slays the Wolves" and things like that. Do you like that?
Lamb: Yeah, it's fun. It does not bother me. It is what it is. It's my last name and I am proud of it. I have a great family and they love me and support me, so yeah -- it's great.
Question: What do you expect your cheering section to be like when November comes?
Lamb: I don't know. Maybe I will walk in with a live lamb. Hopefully, we will be 100 deep and really loud. They like to drink in Oklahoma, so that will make it fun. I think it will be between us and Phil Collins for the loudest rail.
Question: You're from Tulsa. If you win, do you think you will be one of the most famous people from your hometown?
Lamb: Probably not. Will Rogers is from Tulsa. So is Bobby Baldwin. He's certainly a great poker player who has gone on to do great things outside of poker.
Question: Well, you have more WSOP winnings than Bobby Baldwin now -- since you are now up to $3 million at least, with this cash.
Lamb: Yeah, but I will bet there were some pots Bobby won in cash games that were bigger than that (laughing).
Question: Of the remaining players, who do you respect or fear the most?
Lamb: I think everyone that's left is pretty good. There's not any one player that stands out. Everyone is good at poker in their own way. Everyone has a different strategy. Some of those strategies work against me better than others. But, everyone is going to be playing very hard. So, in some ways I guess I fear and respect everyone.
Question: You have done this for awhile. As you know, it's not always this easy. Tell us about times in your career when things did not go as well.
Lamb: I have never had more than a short downswing. I have had losing months. But I have never had a losing quarter, nor a losing year. I did have one major downswing online. That kind of threw a wrench in what I was doing. It made me doubt myself for a while. So, I took a couple of weeks off. When I came back, I stepped down in limits and I studied the game more. And I managed to win most of my money back. Then, there was 2008 here (at the WSOP) when I lost both in tournaments and live. (cash games). But luckily, even though I was losing, I did not lose all my money. I still had a bankroll. So, I was never in danger of being out of action or having to be staked. I think I have been able to understand variance more than most people and not put myself in a position where I don't have a job anymore. Because if you are a poker player and you run out of working capital, then you are fired. You have no job.
Question: Do you believe great, I mean truly great poker players are born or do they study and develop talent. Which is more important at the highest levels of poker playing do you think?
Lamb: I think it's like anything else. There is a level of performance you can obtain. But to be really great, you may have to have something beyond the cap on your talent. I do not think I am anywhere near my cap. I hopefully can improve over the next five or ten years. Poker is something I want to play the rest of my life. I think it's super complex and super interesting. When I play hands, they stick with me. I can remember poker hands that I played four or five years ago. I think about them and it sometimes opens my eyes up to new ways of looking at the game. I learn new things about poker that way.
Question: How many WSOP events did you play this year?
Question: Eight? That's all? You have a 1st, 2nd, 8th, 12th and now a November Nine showing. You are saying you cashed in five of the eight events you played?
Lamb: I went out of the first three with no cashes. And now I have cashed in five in a row. It's been a good heater I'm on right now...(pause)....I have spent an equal amount of time playing in cash games during the WSOP. The first half of the summer, I was playing cash games 16 hours a day.
Question: So now, consider two statements and tell us which one applies to you the most – ‘Poker is fun’ or ‘Poker is business.’
Lamb: Poker is a fun business.
Question: Final question. If you could somehow accept a deal where you were guaranteed second place right now in the Main Event, but knew you would not win -- would you accept it?
Lamb: I am a realist. I would have to take the deal and the money. I mean, that kind of money would set me up for life. So, that's the goal right now -- to be set for life.
Question: Then again, you might not ever make it to the November Nine again. In fact, the odds are against it, even for great players.
Lamb: Yeah, but I made the deep run in 2009. You could say the odds were against me coming back and being here two years later. But you are right -- it's very hard to make it this deep. Maybe making it to the Top 100 is realistic or even the Top 20. But this is really a special feeling to be in the November Nine, for sure. By the way, if you can get the other eight players to consent and get me second place, I'll take it (laughing).