You hate to peak too early.
Doesn’t matter if it’s poker or sex, it’s utterly embarrassing to blow your load before you’re supposed to. A chip leader on Day 1 or 2 of the WSOP means absolutely nothing unless those chips are used to propel you into the highest echelons of the poker circus — the November Nine — which in gambling terms is the greatest show on Earth. Well, maybe not Earth, but certainly in Las Vegas once Bob Dylan packs up his gear and takes his song and dance act to the next city on his tour. So with the exception of Bob Dylan, the WSOP is still the biggest show in town and Ben Lamb is one of the colorful main characters, with a name that’s straight off the pages of a Tennessee Williams play.
The leading man, Ben Lamb, lead the charge on Day 1B (see Luck Rack of Lamb) and decimated the field during the opening flight of running with the donks. Although Day 1 might seem like a sprint, the entire Main Event is a post-apocalyptic marathon in which mutants and roving gangs of thugs are trying to prevent you from reaching the Promised Land. Despite the appalling carnage left on the bloodied battlefield, Lamb rose above his competition on both Day 1B and again on Day 2B.
Even if Lamb busted on Day 1, he’d still be considered one of the most outstanding players during the 2011 preliminaries. Lamb thrived on pressure and collected one bracelet after three final table appearances. At one point late in the summer, Lamb was No. 1 on the WSOP Player of the Year leader board (with this year’s point system powered by Bluff Magazine). It wasn’t until Phil Hellmuth went deep in the Players’ Championship for his third runner-up performance before the Poker Brat elbowed Lamb out of POY’s top spot.
Unlike Lamb, Hellmuth struggled on Day 1 and barely survived the day. Hellmuth’s rough Main Event continued when he showed up late on Day 2 when he forgot what day he was playing. If Hellmuth’s wife didn’t call security to wake him up with a “welfare check,” the Poker Brat would’ve gotten blinded off, while half-baked reporters speculated if Hellmuth spiraled into the depths of a deviant narcotics binge similar to other famous no-shows — Stuey Ungar and Vinnie Vinh. Alas, Hellmuth arrived, albeit late on Day 2A, and quashed whatever rumors that he was a crackhead, or worse, an Ibogaine addict.
When the Main Event clock reached the end of Level 10, Ben Lamb was still out in front of the blood-thirsty pack of 1,000 or so players. Lamb also extended his lead to over 551,000 in chips. Only one other player, Kevin Saul, finished Day 2B with at least a half o’ mil in chips. Saul’s online screen name is some clever combination of lowercase and uppercase characters with a play on Above and Below, which I can never figure out which is which. AboveBelow? BelowAbove? BelowSideways? And I’m not even going to attempt to figure out the capitalization. If I was cooking on good old-fashioned trucker’s speed, perhaps I’d write out all 5,423 combination and variations of Saul’s online screen name, but since neither of us can play online poker anymore due to the fucking jackals in Washington cockblocking a perfectly legitimate racket, it just doesn’t matter. I’m praying that if/when online poker returns to American soil, that Saul will opt for a much easier screen name to remember like KevSaul420.
For more on Day 2B at the World Series of Poker Main Event, follow Paul McGuire at Tao of Poker.