Ben Ludlow – putting comedy on hold for a deep run at WPT Rolling Thunder

Paul Oresteen
Posted on: March 25, 2024 07:18 PDT

Ben Ludlow stays busy these days between playing poker full time, performing stand up comedy, hammering out a screenplay and working as a personal assistant for his best friend and poker commentator Jeff Platt. On Monday, he returned to Day 3 of the World Poker Tour Rolling Thunder Main Event looking to play for the biggest score of his career.

Humble beginnings

What many probably don’t know is that while Ludlow is playing for six-figures this week, he got his start in poker “at the lowest rung possible” as a floor reporter for PokerNews over a decade ago.

“I had my best three months ever of online poker January through March of 2011, and well, you know… (referring to Black Friday April 2011),” Ludlow said. “I was never going to drop out or anything to play but I was taking it seriously.”

Ludlow lost his bankroll to the Feds; he was in college writing at the school paper and figured he could marry the two and try out the World Series of Poker for the summer. “It was great,” he said. “I’ll be honest, it made me want to play more. Being out in Las Vegas for the summer got me obsessed with the game. Then, the rest is history.”

A taste of Vegas

He got a front row seat watching Jason Mercier, Brian Rast and Ben Lamb win bracelets and a taste of what Las Vegas had to offer. It was more than enough.


Ludlow returned home, finished college but kept an eye on the game. Then in 2016 he got to a point working as a single guy where he could play WSOP events with some seriousness. “I went out and played seven events that WSOP. I bricked the first six and came into the $1,500 Eight Game Mix event not a seasoned mixed game player at all.”

“But I went into seeing how mentally strong I can be and just survive; not do anything dumb and put myself in good spots,” Ludlow said. “I think that’s when I realized I could mentally deal with playing tournaments and be okay at it. Of course, I had plenty of work to do on my game, but it changed things.”

Ludlow not only held his own, but finished in fourth place for just over $40,000. Three-time bracelet winner and Mixed Game crusher Paul Volpe won the bracelet, the late Gavin Smith took sixth place and Chris Klodnicki finished ninth. In just a couple short years, he went from covering legends of the game to competing with them.

“It changed my expectations from the game,” he added. “I had 100% of myself and it was a nice score that got me into bigger games.”

Moving all in

Ludlow stayed obsessed with the game and in 2018 he moved to Las Vegas to pursue poker. By happenstance, he got seated in a tournament next to an old acquaintance – Jeff Platt.

During Ludlow’s first year at the WSOP, he was roommates with Kevin Taylor – who went to USC. “He and Jeff played home games together in LA during college. We got along but didn’t really keep in touch, but we’d see each other around,” said Ludlow.

“The first tournament I played within a week of moving out there I got sat next to Jeff and he had moved there a week prior,” Ludlow said. “So, I was like, ‘Wanna be best friends? Ok, cool.’ Ever since then, we’ve been talking poker and become best friends.”

Over the next few years, they continued to play in the same events, talked poker and Platt’s career as commentator grew to the point where Ludlow could work for him as he pursued other goals at the same time.

Expanding horizons

“I’m actually doing a bad job at finishing a screenplay right now, he said. “When stand up got shut down by Covid, I started writing a lot more. I wrote a few screenplays with a partner, but now I’m on my own trying some dark comedy. I’m trying to get it done by April 21st but running deep in this isn’t helping.”

Since he was shirking his writing duties, we asked him to put his comedian hat on to tell us who the funniest person is in poker. “Caitlin Comeskey is the funniest woman in poker, no doubt. She’s my favorite, she might be the funniest person in poker,” he said.

To keep things fair, we needed his funniest guy in poker. “I’m going to be a homer and have to go with Stapes (Joe Stapleton),” Ludlow said. “He’s been like a big brother to me for almost ten years.”

Ben poker power rankings

Ludlow claims to be a “top ten Ben in poker” on his X bio, so naturally we needed some poker Ben power rankings.

Ludlow and Erwin at a wine tasting. DREW AMATO

“It’s hard to argue against Ben Erwin. I love him – he deserves an Industry Person of the Year nod,” Ludlow snap-responded. “The best Ben playing poker is maybe Benny Glaser or Ben Lamb – he’s a kindred spirit: a golfer, gambler, wine drinker.”

“But who did I edge out…hmm, who can I talk shit about?” Ludlow pondered. “I’ll say Ben Heath, sorry Ben, you’re a great player, but Ya Boring!”

All photos courtesy of WPT - Drew Amato.