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Ten players to watch out for as WSOP Main Event goes into Day 3

Ben Lamb’s remarkable summer continues with chip lead in Main Event

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Steve Marcus

Poker professional and Las Vegas resident Ben Lamb competes during Day 2B of the World Series of Poker main event at the Rio Tuesday, July 12, 2011.

WSOP Main Event Day 2B

Poker professional Vanessa Rousso competes during Day 2B of the World Series of Poker main event at the Rio Tuesday, July 12, 2011. Launch slideshow »

It’s almost impossible for one player in the World Series of Poker Main Event to hold the chip lead after both their Day 1 and Day 2 sessions.

With the field trimming dramatically — nearly 5,000 players have exited the Main Event through four Day 1s and two Day 2s —and so many chips changing hands, names on the leader board rise and fall like a skyscraper elevator. But unlike everyone else, Las Vegas resident Ben Lamb’s chip count has only gone up.

Lamb finished Day 1B, his starting day of choice, with a session-high 188,925 chips. By the end of play Tuesday night, Day 2B, Lamb had 551,600 chips. After a day off, Lamb will enter Thursday’s Day 3 with the highest chip count of the approximately 1,900 players remaining in poker’s world championship.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who’s followed the WSOP this summer. Lamb is arguably the hottest regular at the Rio and a candidate for the WSOP Player of the Year.

He won his first bracelet by taking down the $10,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha World Championship for $814,436 and made three other final tables.

“I’ve run good and I’ve played the best I’ve ever played,” Lamb said earlier this month. “Everything’s gone right.”

Lamb made a deep run in the Main Event two years ago before bowing out in 14th place for $633,022. He hopes to build on that experience this year and also continue his tear.

It’s all hard to believe considering Lamb was just one of thousands searching for his first WSOP championship two months ago.

“Some of my friends would tell me that I’m a great player. But then, they would point to their own wrist and say, ‘Oh wait — I’ve won my gold bracelet. Where’s yours?” Lamb said.

They can no longer hold that over Lamb. And at this pace, he could have a lot more to brag about.

Lamb was an easy choice to lead the list of players to watch out for as the Main Event plays down to nine players over the next six days. Check below for the rest.

    • WSOP Main Event Day 2B
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Patrik Antonius

      He will go into Day 3 with an astounding 361,000 chips.

      Antonius, one of the most popular poker pros in the world, had a similarly big chip stack early in last year’s Main Event before settling for a 601st-place finish and a $24,709 payday.

      That sounds like a lot, but it’s significantly less than Antonius usually buys-in for to play in the world’s largest cash games.

    • World Series of Poker Day 2A
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Mike Sowers

      Sowers was like a vacuum during his Day 2 session Monday at the Rio. He brought a lot of chips in, and once they were in his possession, they didn’t leave.

      Sowers will have one of the tallest plastic mountains in front of him Thursday at the Rio when he starts with 347,000 chips. The North Carolina native is fresh off of one final table appearance earlier this summer at the World Series of Poker, which he ultimately turned into a $138,031 payday for sixth place.

    • World Series of Poker Day 2A
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Shaun Deeb

      The Las Vegas resident won the hearts of many in the Rio last week by buying his 91-year old grandmother, Ellen Deeb, into the Main Event.

      Although Ellen — the oldest player to compete in the WSOP this year — only lasted a few hours, Shaun is poised to go much deeper. Shaun, who built his bankroll by dominating the online poker tournament scene for years, has 294,700 chips.

    • WSOP Main Event Day 2B
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      John Racener

      Players during Tuesday’s Day 1B couldn’t have liked what they saw when they passed by Racener’s table.

      The 25-year old from Port Richey, Fla., had amassed one of the larger stacks in the room with approximately 190,000 chips at the end of the day. Racener has already proven what’s he capable of when he finished second to Jonathan Duhamel in last year’s Main Event.

      Racener’s tight-aggressive style is the most tried-and-true approach to succeeding in the Main Event.

    • World Series of Poker Day 2A
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Lisa Hamilton

      If players at the Rio discount Hamilton’s poker skills because of her looks, they are making a major mistake. Hamilton is more than a petite Hawaiian female — she’s an elite card player.

      Hamilton won the WSOP Ladies Event two years ago for $195,300 and has cashed in numerous notable tournaments since. She had built one of the bigger stacks in the room during Monday’s Day 2A, before slipping back a bit to 126,700 by the end of the day.

      That’s still more than enough to do damage.

    • World Series of Poker Day 2A
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Dan Shak

      Dan Shak spent the majority of his Day 2 on the same table as Phil Hellmuth, tormenting the short-stacked “Poker Brat” on a few occasions with either strong hands or sharp reads.

      Although Hellmuth recovered to have a serviceable amount of chips by the end of the day, Shak never dipped too low to begin with. The Pennsylvania native will start his Day 3 with 182,600 chips.

      Shak has $2.7 million in lifetime tournament earnings, but is still looking for his first World Series of Poker bracelet.

    • WSOP Main Event Day 2B
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Erick Lindgren

      The reason he makes the list is simple — Lindgren is due for a breakthrough in the WSOP Main Event.

      Despite being regarded as an elite tournament player and winning the 2008 WSOP Player of the Year, Lindgren has never cashed in the Main Event. This is at least his eighth try in poker’s world championship.

      Lindgren will enter Day 3 with an above average chip count of around 170,000.

    • WSOP Main Event Day 2B
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Dan Kelly

      Although Kelly may not be a mainstream star yet, ask around and many pros will label him as one of the best players in the world.

      The 22-year old, who studies engineering at Villanova, won a bracelet in one of last year’s most prestigious events — the $25,000 buy-in six-max no-limit hold’ em. That was good for $1.3 million.

      He’s shown it was no fluke with five cashes in the 2011 WSOP and a stack of 160,000 chips entering Day 3 of the Main Event.

    • World Series of Poker Day 2A
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Daniel Negreanu

      Although Negreanu has only 114,000 chips, it’s difficult to write him off in a tournament like the Main Event.

      Negreanu was desperate entering the last two-hour level of the night Monday, but more than doubled up to get right in the middle of the pack.

      He’s second on the all-time poker tournament money list and hasn’t cashed in the Main Event since 2006.

    Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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