Ben Ludlow Riding Wave of Momentum onto WPT Voyage

Ben Ludlow Riding Wave of Momentum onto WPT Voyage

After hours spent patiently waiting for Virgin Voyages Valiat Lady to hit international waters on Sunday night, poker got underway on WPT Voyage in an explosion of action, all at once. As hundreds of players lined up for cash game action in the pajama Meet-Up Game, and a satellite for the $5,000 WPT Voyage Main Tour event, the first cards in the air were for a $2,500 turbo No Limit Holdem event.

As you might expect, that $2,500 tournament brought out most of the notable pros on board. There were WPT Champions Club members and WSOP bracelet winners in droves, and everyone seemed to be buzzing with energy that they were all too happy to find a release for.

In the middle of the room, bantering with the best of them and comfortably holding his own, was Ben Ludlow. Over the last few months, Ludlow has proven he can hold his own while playing amongst the strongest tournament players in the world with a number of deep runs in major events. His adaptability, creativity, and humor have allowed Ludlow to make serious inroads in the poker world, and on this night, in this setting, he was in his element.

We’re playing this $2,500 turbo, and you know, every tables got a lot of great players, but everyone’s having fun, said Ludlow. Not everyone’s drinking, some are, but it’s a different kind of atmosphere. Different than almost any tournament I’ve ever played – it doesn’t feel like a $2,500, it feels like a nightly – in a good way.

If you feel like youve been seeing Ludlows name pop up a lot more in recent months, youre not imagining things. Just before hopping on for the WPT Voyage, Ludlow finished 21st at WPT Rolling Thunder. During that festival, Ludlow chopped the first ever Savage Average tournament at Thunder Valley as well. Back in December, during the WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas, Ludlow recorded the best tournament cash of his career in a half No Limit Holdem, half Pot Limit Omaha event.

Ludlow has taken his poker career seriously since 2018, when he moved out to Las Vegas, but tournaments were largely a secondary part of the equation for most of that stretch. There were a few notable exceptions, including a final table in a $1,500 8-Game Mix event at the WSOP in 2016, but his recent push towards MTTs has been a successful shift that Ludlow has enjoyed thanks to an opportunity for a fruitful partnership.

I have a good opportunity with a good backer who wants me to put in a lot of volume, said Ludlow. And I think the work that I put in started to pay off pretty quickly. I’m a big believer in momentum, in terms of when things are going well you feel confident, keep playing, keep taking shots. And it’s going well, so I’m not overthinking it.

When hes not venturing out to Northern California or on a poker cruise out to the Caribbean, Ludlow is all too happy to take advantage of the volume of poker available at home. Its the same sort of energy and commitment hes put into standup comedy and other creative pursuits. Poker fans have gotten a taste of Ludlow’s brand of humor during the Global Poker Awards over the last few years, as Ludlow joined forces with longtime friend Jeff Platt to produce videos indicating Platt’s status as “The Nicest Guy in Poker” and Platt’s now infamous “curse.”

While poker has taken a front seat of late, Ludlows day-to-day life in Vegas takes a different shape every day.

I think it’s a little bit of everything, said Ludlow. I do go play at the Wynn, some $5/10 and $10/20 No Limit, some PLO. I’m doing some studying, I play online a little bit. But Im also still working on creative projects, too. I’m working on a screenplay, I’ve been working at that for a few months trying to finish that up and enter it into some contests post-World Series. I’m the kind of guy who’s always doing like eight things at once. I’ve tried to do less things at once, but I can’t help it, so it’s a little bit of everything.

For the next week, itll be poker at all times on the WPT Voyage. But if his experience in the $2,500 turbo is any indicator, itll be the kind of poker environment in which Ludlow thrives. When the poker is serious, hes all too happy to lock it down and focus. But when the opportunity for something a little more lighthearted is on the table, Ludlow is all about that, too.

Its the kind of experience that bares out when Ludlow takes one of a few yearly trips to a stop on the RunGood poker tour, a series thats earned a reputation for lighthearted fun.

Tana Karn and Hayley Hochstettler, who run it, are two of my best friends and I want to support them. It’s great, and I love going to RunGood stops because it’s a great mix of playing some serious poker and some fun poker. I like both. I love going to a place like Thunder Valley where I’m gonna play some serious events, be really focused, and play high-level poker. I love going to RunGood events where I’m going to be social at the table, talk a lot, have some drinks, and fun. I think it’s a good balance.

If you are only playing serious all the time, and only playing big events, it can grind on you, said Ludlow. The mix of social and serious is perfect, especially for someone who’s traveling around a lot. I think, for me, it’s important to have a good balance as it allows me to have a social life while traveling the circuit balance because a lot of my friends are there.

Hitting the road for trips to California is one thing, but committing to six-plus days on a poker-centric voyage at sea is another level entirely. In Ludlows estimation, the kind of poker on offer on WPT Voyage made this trip a must.

So living in Vegas, I play a lot at Wynn and Venetian, said Ludlow. It’s a lot of $1,600s with that 40-minute level, hour levels throughout – the structures are so good. I think that for me, I don’t know if that favors me, but I love it. I think any time you can play a main event-type structure – I’m so in. I wish the WPT had more Main Tour stops in the U.S., because I’d be traveling around doing all of them.

It’s just the best, the structure is the best, they run so many good satellites. You’re going to have a lot of great players at your table, but you’re also gonna have a lot of satellite winners, and it’s just a fun atmosphere.

He was only a few hours into his WPT Voyage adventure at the time, but as he sat on break during that first $2,500 turbo, Ludlow was soaking in the moment and the opportunity for adventure at hand.

It’s already proving to be one of the most fun stops anyone’s ever done, said Ludlow. If day one is any indication of how this is going to be, it’s pretty electric. Everyone’s having a good time.

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