It was perhaps the hand that defined the year or the career of a few people involved. Does the hand of the year also define the poker strategy of one off tournament risk play versus regular tournament risk play?
The Final Table of the 2011 WSOP Main Event and this year they stop and restart the next day with 3 players. Ben Lamb, Martin Staszko and Pius Heinz are the lucky 3 people and on the 1st hand Ben Lamb and Martin Staszko get it on big time.
Ben Lamb raises pre flop to 3 million from the Small Blind and Martin Staszko three bets to 7.5 million. Lamb had a ponder then four bets all ins for over 42 million! Staszko has a think and then calls turning over pocket 7′s v Lamb’s KJ. Staszko’s pocket 7′s hold up and Lamb is crippled and out 2 hands later.
If the interview afterwards Ben Lamb discusses the play and is happy with it when explaining his thinking behind it.
But was his thinking suited more to a regular tournament you can play in and not to the WSOP Main Event when you are very likely the best player left out of only 3?
Long term or this term risk strategy?
Ben Lamb mentioned his thinking behind the hand and it was the classic modern “the other opponent could fold and I have fold equity + a load of extra chips + I am unlikely to be that far behind if called + if I do double up then I have nearly won the tournament”
The last 2 parts are the interesting parts – if called was he going to be far behind and if he doubles up he has a very good chance of winning the tournament.
If called he would either be dominated by a much better hand if Martin Staszko was calling or at the best he was on the slightly worse of it with a coin flip if Martin Staszko only had a lower than J pocket pair.
But it was the thinking of if I can double up I can win it that is interesting. Some other players would have considered that regular tournament thinking. That you may make those kinds of unforced plays in a regular tournament but not in a one off situation like the last 3 of the WSOP when you are the best player left.
In regular tournaments you may happily take those kinds of risks as it does not matter to much. If you do not double up on this tournament then the next time you are in the same situation you will.
But how often will Ben Lamb be in that position again where he can flip like that? Perhaps as the best player he could have seen the flop and then taken it from there.
Sometimes a tournament or a prize or position you are in is such a one off that regular tournament tactics have to be suspended or adjusted.
But others will say that you risk all to gain everything – especially in this situation where if you do win it then you are nearly going to be crowned the world poker champion.