Hellmuth vs Lamb: Who's the Real Player of the Year?

Both Phil Hellmuth and Ben Lamb showed outstanding results at this year's World Series of Poker. But which one of them should get the coveted "Player of the Year" trophy? Let's examine the facts.

It is always difficult to measure true success in a game likepoker, yet the World Series of Poker Player of the Year title is always held in very high regard. Some events at the WSOP have $1,000 buy-ins, and others cost $50,000 to enter. Some fields have several thousand runners, while others have less than 200. Most events are in Hold'em, and only a handful of events are in other disciplines.   

Not only that, the scoring system is weighted towards onetournament, the Main Event. It also does not take into account events the player played in, but did not cash - so it is revenue, not profit, which counts towards scoring. Although the POY ranking system may have a very scientific formula, we are often left to draw our own conclusions about who the realwinners were in Las Vegas.

This brings us to this year's player of the year title. It is currently neck and neck between Phil Hellmuth and Ben Lamb. Both men are without doubt the two big player stories from the WSOP this year (And a hat tip certainly goes to Brian Rast for winning two bracelets this year). 

Hellmuth has $1,591,004 in winnings from the series this year, which mostly came from three 2nd place finishes in mixed game events. Ben Lamb is currently up over $2,113,947, has won one bracelet, made two further final tables, and amazingly is now at the final table of the Main Event.

Lamb is almost guaranteed to capture the Player of the Year title in November. Realistically, Phil would need one or two very deep runs in the WSOP Europe and Lamb would need to be one of the first men out of the Main Event (and not cash in the WSOP-E) for Phil to capture the title. But who is the real player of this year's WSOP?

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szabby69 Silver 2
1585d ago

Lamb is a regular in some of the toughest cash games in Ivey's Room in Las Vegas. By his own admission he puts his amazingrun this year down to good variance more than anything (It is rare even the best poker players admit that, which in itself suggests Lamb is a mentally very secure player). 

He has six figure final table finishes in every discipline of the game, with a bracelet & runner up in PLO events, the $50,000 player's championship final table, and of course is at thefinal table of the biggest No Limit Hold'em tournament in the world.   

So basically, he has proven himself in large field events, smaller pro heavy fields, played every single format of the game in the process, and won more money than anyone else. 

Most importantly, he still has a very good chance of becoming the Main Event champion. No matter where he finishes in November, he has become part of poker's elite this year.

szabby69 Silver 2
1585d ago

But we cannot discount Hellmuth either. First of all, three second places in one year are up there with the most impressive feats in recent WSOP history (At the same time exposing some questions about his heads up game). But the real reason Hellmuth has to be the story of the year has been his complete reinvention.    

Phil has taken a lot of criticism in recent years for not evolving along with the rest of the game, playing a style that worked pre boom but not anymore. But this year it has been public knowledge he has been working hard on his game. 

He has also for a long time been criticised for being a Hold'em only player, but this year he has come runner up in 2-7, Stud Hi/Lo, and the 8 game mix – every discipline of the game, and all $10k+ championship events no less.   

The most telling difference, however, is perhaps the completeattitude adjustment we have seen in 2011. He has been very modest (or at least, modest for Phil), complementary of his opponents, honest about his own errors, and in general reacted very positively when the cards did not fall his way. Most notably he has turned down all interview requests and did away with the elaborate Main Event entrance that he became known for.   

It is no surprise that this happens the first year he is no longer sponsored by UB Poker. I always felt that the extravagant entrances and temper tantrums were more for the benefit of his sponsor than anything else. 

Without a patch on his cap (and/or perhaps now having to fund his own buy-ins), we are seeing a Phil Hellmuth that is focussing on the poker, not the business, side of things. And in doing so, he has won over a whole new set of fans. Ben Lamb is the player of the year, but Phil Hellmuth is the story of the year, at the 2011 WSOP.  

PF_pitboss Platinum 3
1585d ago

Barring some huge result in Cannes, France for the WSOPE, Lamb is the more deserving Player of the Year. But Hellmuth definitely disproved many of his detractors with his strong results in non-hold'em games.

axistilt23 Silver 2
1585d ago

This year it's Lamb, but I'd dstill take Phil over Lamb in a large field. He is such a wizard at dodging land mines and continuing through tough tournaments. I love Ben's style and heads up I think he could take Phil more often than not. But Phil is still my guy!

77timmy1986 Silver 2
1584d ago

With Ben's inclusion in the November Nine he's really going to be tough to beat.

TedHeris Silver 3
1583d ago

Clearly Lamb! Hellmuth is not very simpatic!

TedHeris Silver 3
1583d ago

@ 77timmy1986
He will be there? I am told that it is not ...

Posted by 77timmy1986 on 08/03/2011 9:20AM [ Reply ]

Yeah he's a member of the November 9. I watched live on ESPN3.com and he definitely made it. I want to say he's 5th in chips.

Posted by zzbigstackzz on 08/03/2011 9:23AM [ Reply ]

Timmy is right he is 5th in chips. check out this link for the final table standings. Martin Staszko is in the lead with over 40 million in chips. http://espn.go.com/poker/story/_/id/6785486/2011-wsop-nine-players-remain-contention-2011-wsop-main-event-title-meet-2011-november-nine