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    Interview with Player of the Month Benjamin Hamnett

    Posted by Eric Danis October 18, 2012

    September Player of the Month sits down to talk about life after his big win at Borgata.

    Benjamin Hamnett may not have been a household name a few weeks ago. Hamnett did have a brush with greatness coming oh-so-close to final tabling at the 2011 WPT Shooting Star Championship in San Jose and he did earn a top 300 finish cashing in this summer’s WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas… but still, the big win had still eluded Hamnett … well, all that was about to change for our reigning QuadJacks Poker Player of Month.

    It didn’t take long for the poker world to notice when Hamnett won the 2012 WPT Borgata Poker Open and over $800,000, surviving the 1,181 entry field and becoming the latest member of the Champions Club on the World Poker Tour.

    Ben took some time off while in Europe to answer a few of our questions …

    QuadJacks (QJ): First off Ben, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions and congratulations on being named QuadJacks Poker Player of the Year Player of the Month for September. Although this was your breakthrough victory on the poker circuit, you have been around for quite some time now – your first big live score came way back in 2006 at the Cal State Championship. how did you get into the game?

    Benjamin Hamnett (BH): I got into poker in college. I used to play 5c/10c limit mixed games with friends. The game gradually grew in stakes until it merged with my friend’s fraternity game. Eventually we were playing a lot of 2/4 and sometimes 3/6 limit hold em. For a while I crushed the game with crazy aggression and honestly mostly luck.

    For all of the summer of 04, after my junior year of college at Pitt, me and a few friends grinded local underground poker games like 60-80 hours a week. I ended up blowing what I’d saved the following fall. I managed to graduate a semester early but I didn’t even have enough money to make rent. A friend lent me $1000 to get some kind of bonus on party poker which we’d split. I was back to my 60hr/week grind at low stakes trying to get ahead of bills and rent. Eventually I did and never looked back. I reluctantly transitioned to no limit in 2006. In 2010 I began transitioning to PLO which may never take hold as strongly as no limit did. Now I’m transitioning into tournaments.

    QJ: We saw many pictures of you with the beautiful WPT Champions Cup – but outside the WPT made-for-tv studios inside Borgata, are Champions allowed one day with the Cup a-la Stanley Cup or was this you just “stealing” what was yours?

    BH: I didn’t get a “a day with the cup.” Between hands/levels I would stretch, talk to people in the crowd and even dance a little to stay relaxed. I think the WPT producers loved this and after I won they were like “dance party!” So my friends, Mike Sexton and the Royal Flush Girls got down for what seemed like an hour for the cameras. It felt like the ending scene on the stage for SNL. But they just kept being like “no, keep dancing! Now go do something crazy over there.” I loved it. The media people said, “now hoist the cup” a-la Stanley. I was holding it pretty brazenly already and contemplating it but Mike (Sexton) was like “deff don’t do that.” I think it would be great if someone like (Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto) Luongo or some other athlete wins one for them to hoist the thing around. Don’t think us nerds can do that. They did give me a smaller one to take home though. I invited all my friends and we did take the trophy out for a victory lap.

    QJ: There are very few major poker tournaments that use a “rebuy” format for their Championship events. How did rebuys affect the way you played your game at the Borgata – or did they?

    BH: The rebuy format gives pros two shots to make a big stack but it also gives recreational players two shots to get lucky. I think it’s great to give people the option of treating the tournament like a $3500 one shot or a $7000 double chance. Or even $10500 as I’m sure someone did. I like giving people options. I think all tournaments should have more buyin options, leaning toward being straight rebuy+addon events. Let people on tighter bankrolls take a shot at huge prize pools for only $1000 while players with bigger bankrolls can fire a few shots. Allowing people more buyin options helps everyone. Makes for a bigger prize pool for people who like seeing big potential wins for small entries and gives people with a bigger budget a chance to punt off more money or whatever. Of course this gives an advantage to people willing to fire two barrels. But I don’t know many competitions that don’t give leg up to those that can invest more money. If you’re serious and good, you’ll get the money. The rebuy made me want to take bigger risks on Day 1A to build a stack which didn’t work out. Day 2 I played like a regular freeze out, allowing variance to affect very marginal decisions or bet sizes.

    QJ: You win Borgata, a few days later you’re on a plane to Cannes for the WSOPE, then EPT San Remo followed by a successful trip at FPS Mazagan. Have you had any time to take it all in, time to enjoy your first live major poker victory?

    BH: I took a weekend to enjoy my victory with friends and family. But also when you book a big win your formula changes. You have a bigger bankroll and can afford more tournaments. Furthermore any tournaments you play for the year are tax deductible. Also, if you win a second event you really start getting recognition.

    QJ: What’s next for you? Has the big win changed your plans for the rest of the 2012 poker season?

    BH: Right now I’m just trying to figure out the best path to be in for a full time tournament player, at least for the rest of the year.

    *** ***

    Hamnett didn’t waste much time in picking up a second victory. He recently picked up the win in the PokerStars France Poker Series (FPS) Sunfest Mazagan High Rollers event in beautiful Morocco, adding an extra 40K to his bankroll.

    Once thing is for sure… you haven’t heard the last of Benjamin Hamnett.

    Eric Danis

    QuadJacks - Thursday, October 18, 2012

    About Eric Danis

    Eric is the host of The Pulse, Tournament Poker Essentials WorldWide right here on QuadJacks. He was the host of Poker EH! during the first run and also runs PTPRPoker.com which QJ uses for our player of the year standings.

    View all post by Eric Danis Visit author's website

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