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Youth being served at WSOP $50K event

4 July 2011

LAS VEGAS -- When a $50,000 buy-in event was held during the World Series of Poker for the first time in 2006, the tournament’s registration list was littered with players who are already in the Poker Hall of Fame, along with those who are destined to be inducted someday down the road.

The final table of that tournament was one for the ages: Andy Bloch; Doyle Brunson; T.J. Cloutier; Dewey Tomko; Phil Ivey; Patrik Antonius; David Singer; Jim Bechtel; and of course, the inaugural winner, the late Chip Reese.

Looking around the purple section of the Amazon Room at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino as the last level of play in this year’s $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship began on Sunday night, you’d only see two of those original final table players remaining. While some players remaining in the tournament (Phil Hellmuth, Jeffrey Lisandro, Gus Hansen and Barry Greenstein, for instance) are well known to those who have watched poker on TV, there is a new breed of players in contention for the David “Chip” Reese Memorial trophy and the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship title.

While the event isn’t exactly a coming out party, it is a confirmation that some of the best young online poker players have gone beyond no-limit Hold’em and pot-limit Omaha and can play with the best in almost any poker discipline.

Ben Lamb considers a bet during a Stud round of the $50,000 Poker Player

Ben Lamb considers a bet during a Stud round of the $50,000 Poker Player's Championship at the WSOP. (photo by Aaron Todd)

Take Ben Lamb, for instance. If you’ve been following this year’s WSOP, surely you’ve heard of the young man who finished second in one pot-limit Omaha event and took down the $10,000 event in the same game. Prior to this summer’s performance, the 26-year-old professional poker player from Tulsa, Okla., was best known for a 14th-place finish in the 2009 WSOP Main Event. He’s also won more than $1 million online.

But his mixed game experience isn’t anything to shout about. Lamb has exactly one cash in an event that wasn’t exclusively a community card game, finishing ninth in a $300 H.O.R.S.E. event in Oklahoma for a whopping $746 in 2007. After two days of play in the most stacked field in poker, Lamb has the chip lead, more than quadrupling his starting stack to $704,500, and will look at padding his lead in the WSOP Player of the Year standings with another cash in this event.

Phil Galfond is another player who earned his chops playing flop games who is still alive heading into Day 3. Prior to Full Tilt Poker’s exit from the U.S. market two and a half months months ago, Galfond was one of the most well-respected pot-limit Omaha players in the world. But his 2-7 Triple Draw game ... well, let’s just say there was a line of players just waiting for him to sign on and play the lowball game earlier this year. Galfond viewed his losses as tuition of sorts, and the education he got ended up paying dividends. He started turning around those losses, and now has 196,700 chips heading into Day 3.

Scott Seiver, who like Lamb is also 26, is one of the younger players who has proven he can succeed in events other than Hold’em and Omaha. Seiver made a WSOP final tables in an eight-game event and has cashed in two other WSOP mixed game events. Seiver has 375,000 chips and is ranked 15th in chips heading into Day 3.

Five years ago, these players wouldn’t have considered risking $50,000 to play in this tournament. And they wouldn’t have been able to find anyone to back them in the event, either.

While the mixed-game format doesn’t play well on TV (the last year the final table played the H.O.R.S.E. format, ESPN opted not to pick it up for broadcast), it is clear that the top young players are eager to prove their chops in mixed games.

Through two days, many of them appear to be succeeding. But they’ll have to grind through two more days and survive 66 more eliminations to make the final table, as 74 players made it through Day 2. But make no mistake – the old guard isn’t going to just roll over and let the young guns take the title. It should make for plenty of fireworks on Monday – just in time for the Fourth of July.
Youth being served at WSOP $50K event is republished from CasinoVendors.com.
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Best of Aaron Todd
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.