WSOP 2017: Early exit for Ben Lamb following final table return

After finishing 14th in the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event, then following that with a third-place showing in the 2011 WSOP Main, Ben Lamb's third deep run in nine years is over, ending with a ninth-place finish in this year's installment of poker's most prestigious event.

Lamb entered ninth of chips out of nine and only lasted four hands. Even so, many considered him a betting favorite to get further, perhaps even to emerge from the crowd of short stacks to challenge for the title.

But Lamb's first big confrontation ended badly for him, and the Oklahoman now living in Las Vegas made an early exit.

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Ben Lamb - ninth place

Before play began, tuxedo-clad tournament director Jack Effel resembled a ring announcer as he introduced the final table players one-by-one. The crowd's roaring responses to each of the players' entrances further encouraged the comparison, though once cards were dealt things calmed down relatively speaking.

Then John Hesp got started.

On the first hand the 64-year-old amateur from Bridlington, England raised, then called a three-bet from Antoine Saout who then continued on a ten-high flop. Hesp raised, Saout backed down, and Hesp showed his hand, revealing king-high and a flush draw.

The crowd loved it.

"We wanted to start the show with a bang, didn't we?" cracked Hesp as he sat back down, and the others nodded and smiled.

Hesp then three-bet Dan Ott on hand number two, taking it down (and showing again). He followed that by opening the third hand and received no action, and after egging the others on showed his cards a third time -- J♥T♣.

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Hesp starts the show with a bang

Hesp promised to slow down after that, though it was readily apparent none of the others are too sure whether to take him at his word. In any case, his antics have given him the chip lead.

Then came Lamb's final hand, one starting with a button min-raise from the table's other Englishman, Jack Sinclair. Lamb shipped his 20 big blind-ish stack in over the top from the big blind, and Sinclair didn't hesitate before calling.

Lamb saw his A♥9♥ was well behind Sinclair's A♣Q♥, although the dealer placing the "all-in" disc next to the ace-queen led to much confusion in the stands. A flop of 6♣5♦4♦ and turn of 3♣ introduced some hopes to split the pot, but the T♥ finished the board and Lamb's incredible repeat run to a WSOP Main Event final table.

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Lamb watches his final runout

Afterwards Lamb described himself as "kind of shocked" at the outcome, though that self-assessment was belied somewhat by his usual smile and calm demeanor, as well as by his analysis of the hand that felled him.

"My plan was basically to pick up a hand against Jack," Lamb explained, noting how when Sinclair raised the button the first time Lamb had the big blind, he wasn't disappointed at all to look down at ace-nine and jam all-in over the top.

"I felt great about it," Lamb explained, a feeling that lasted for all of a second or two.

"When he snap-called, I was pretty sure I was dead to three outs. But it's pretty standard... I'm not going to beat myself up about that."

Talking just minutes after his elimination, Lamb's mind was still sitting over at the table, picturing himself still being dealt into the game, his many supporters still cheering for him.

"The table was going to be a lot of fun," he said. "John's already going crazy."

He expressed disappointment not to have a chance to mix it up with Hesp, as well as not to be able to play longer for his family who had come out to watch.

As he told us back on Day 6, Lamb reiterated how as a player he preferred being able to play the final table right away to the "November Nine" experience he went through in 2011 waiting three-and-a-half months to complete the event. With just two days' delay, Lamb said there wasn't time to brood too much over the possibility of being the first to fall.

"With two days, I didn't even have enough time to realize I was at the final table," said Lamb.

Alas, he didn't have much time, either, actually to experience it. But the smile remained.

"Honestly, I had so much fun in this tournament. With ninth place, I'm obviously disappointed, and I think a week or two from now it will set in I had a chance to win.... [But] I'm happy with all my plays. It was a lot of fun, a great ride."

Oh, and one other thing.

"I made a million dollars."

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