LAPT9 Panama: Main Event final table live updates

LAPT9 Panama: Main Event final table live updates

* CLICK TO REFRESH FOR LATEST UPDATES
* CHIP COUNTS | PRIZE POOL AND PAYOUTS

* Day 4 will play down to a winner
* Prize pool: $721,665; 1st place: $138,225
* 8 players of 553 entries remain

12:10pm: Play begins
Level 25 – Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 4,000)

The final table has begun! There are about 36 minutes left to go in Level 25. Again, a reminder of where everyone is seated and the stacks to start. –MH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seat Name Country Chips
1 Austin Peck USA 1,351,000
2 Anderson Blanco Colombia 1,225,000
3 Ruben Suarez Venezuela 1,477,000
4 Paul Cukier Costa Rica 1,341,000
5 Alcides Gomez USA 562,000
6 Raul Paez Spain 2,580,000
7 Andres Carrillo Colombia 659,000
8 Aaron Mermelstein USA 1,802,000
LEVEL SMALL BLIND BIG BLIND ANTE
25 15,000 30,000 4,000

11:30am: Final table player profiles

From 553 entries just eight players remain with a chance to become the next LAPT Main Event champion. Play gets underway in about half an hour, which gives you plenty of time to get to know the final eight with these quick introductions:

Seat 1: Austin Peck, USA — 1,351,000

Though he won’t be turning 21 until this August, Austin Peck has already had plenty of experience at the tournament tables where he’s been collecting cashes steadily for the last couple of years playing in places where the playing age is 18 and up. 

In the USA he’s cashes on several different tours, the highlight coming this February when he won a WSOP Circuit ring in an event at West Palm Beach. A couple of weeks after that he finished 20th in the World Poker Tour Fallsview Poker Classic Main Event in Niagara Falls, then last month earned a career-high cash of $24,467 by final-tabling the WPT DeepStacks event in Jacksonville, Florida where he finished fifth. Taking sixth or better today will exceed that total. –MH

Seat 2: Anderson Blanco, Colombia — 1,225,000

One of two Colombians at today’s final table, Anderson Blanco carried the chip lead into yesterday’s Day 3, fell back to short-stacked status for much of the afternoon, then successfully climbed back to have an almost-average stack to start today’s final table. Blanco has already guaranteed himself a career-high score today, wherever he finishes. He also has topped his previous highest finish in an LAPT Main Event, a 19th-place showing at LAPT5 Colombia. –MH

Seat 3: Ruben Suarez, Venezuela — 1,477,000

Ruben Suarez is the 13th Venezuelan player to make an LAPT Main Event final table, and hopes to be the first of that group to break through and claim a title. He has only a couple of cashes on his tournament poker résumé thus far, including a 27th-place finish in the LAPT8 Peru Main Event a year ago. His biggest cash came right here in Panama City back in January when he won a $1,000 Jackies Poker Tour event, topping a 235-entry field to earn $48,000. –MH

Seat 4: Paul Cukier, Costa Rica — 1,341,000

The lone Costa Rican left in the field, Paul Cukier has a handful of previous small cashes collected in the USA, at the PCA in the Bahamas, and in San Jose in his native country. His biggest previous cash was for $4,043 for finishing 156th in a WSOP event back in 2012, so he’s already assured himself of a career-high payday here in Panama today. –MH

Seat 5: Alcides Gomez, USA — 562,000

The Miami based pro Alcides Gomez has his fair share of final table results and experience including a podium finish from last month’s Seminole Hard Rock Poker Challenge Main Event. He’ll return today as the low man on the totem pole, playing just over 560,000 and he’ll need to spin up a stack if he’s going to notch another podium finish in this LAPT9 Panama Main Event. –WOC

Seat 6: Raul Paez, Spain — 2,580,000

Raul Paez will return to the final table as the chip leader. With over $1,800,000 in career earnings, “El Toro” is the most experienced player remaining and he’s hoping that the third time can be the charm at an LAPT final table. The Spaniard finished third at the Main Event final table in Columbia during Season 5, then three years ago bubbled the final table in Panama. –WOC   

Seat 7: Andres Carrillo, Colombia — 659,000

Andres Carrillo returns as one of two players under the million-chip mark, meaning that the Columbian will likely be active early at this LAPT9 Panama final table. Carrillo’s past tournament results are relatively few and far between, but with scores from across the globe — including EPT final table finishes in Barcelona and Malta — if he is able to find an early double, he’ll be a contender. –WOC

Seat 8: Aaron Mermelstein, USA — 1,802,000

As we said yesterday, if chip leader Raul Paez is the creme, Aaron Mermelstein is what settles just under the creme. He’ll come back second in chips and the two-time World Poker Tour champion will be looking to make Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino history today. He currently sits third on the all-time Sortis money list and a deep run today could earn him his best career LAPT finish and move him up that leaderboard. –WOC   

sortis.jpg


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PokerStars Blog Reporting Team at LAPT9 Chile: Will O’Connor and Martin Harris. Photos by Carlos Monti. Follow the PokerStars Blog on Twitter: @PokerStarsBlog

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LAPT9 Panama: Meet the final eight

LAPT9 Panama: Meet the final eight

It’s another eclectic bunch for today’s Latin American Poker Tour Main Event final table, with three Americans, two Colombians, and players from Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Spain. The group brings a variety of experience and past results to today’s final table. As we ready for the 12 noon start today, spend a little time getting to know each of the final eight a little better below.

Seat 1: Austin Peck, USA — 1,351,000

Austin Peck-LAPT Panama-2016-9849.jpg

Austin Peck

Though he won’t be turning 21 until this August, Austin Peck has already had plenty of experience at the tournament tables where he’s been collecting cashes steadily for the last couple of years playing in places where the playing age is 18 and up. 

In the USA he’s cashes on several different tours, the highlight coming this February when he won a WSOP Circuit ring in an event at West Palm Beach. A couple of weeks after that he finished 20th in the World Poker Tour Fallsview Poker Classic Main Event in Niagara Falls, then last month earned a career-high cash of $24,467 by final-tabling the WPT DeepStacks event in Jacksonville, Florida where he finished fifth. Taking sixth or better today will exceed that total. –MH

Seat 2: Anderson Blanco, Colombia — 1,225,000

Anderson Blanco-LAPT Panama-2016-9839.jpg

Anderson Blanco

One of two Colombians at today’s final table, Anderson Blanco carried the chip lead into yesterday’s Day 3, fell back to short-stacked status for much of the afternoon, then successfully climbed back to have an almost-average stack to start today’s final table. Blanco has already guaranteed himself a career-high score today, wherever he finishes. He also has topped his previous highest finish in an LAPT Main Event, a 19th-place showing at LAPT5 Colombia. –MH

Seat 3: Ruben Suarez, Venezuela — 1,477,000

Ruben Suarez-LAPT Panama-2016-9830.jpg

Ruben Suarez

Ruben Suarez is the 13th Venezuelan player to make an LAPT Main Event final table, and hopes to be the first of that group to break through and claim a title. He has only a couple of cashes on his tournament poker résumé thus far, including a 27th-place finish in the LAPT8 Peru Main Event a year ago. His biggest cash came right here in Panama City back in January when he won a $1,000 Jackies Poker Tour event, topping a 235-entry field to earn $48,000. –MH

Seat 4: Paul Cukier, Costa Rica — 1,341,000

Paul Cukier-LAPT Panama-2016-9831.jpg

Paul Cukier

The lone Costa Rican left in the field, Paul Cukier has a handful of previous small cashes collected in the USA, at the PCA in the Bahamas, and in San Jose in his native country. His biggest previous cash was for $4,043 for finishing 156th in a WSOP event back in 2012, so he’s already assured himself of a career-high payday here in Panama today. –MH

Seat 5: Alcides Gomez, USA — 562,000

Alcides Gomez-LAPT Panama-2016-9661.jpg

Alcides Gomez

The Miami based pro Alcides Gomez has his fair share of final table results and experience including a podium finish from last month’s Seminole Hard Rock Poker Challenge Main Event. He’ll return today as the low man on the totem pole, playing just over 560,000 and he’ll need to spin up a stack if he’s going to notch another podium finish in this LAPT9 Panama Main Event. –WOC

Seat 6: Raul Paez, Spain — 2,580,000

Raul Paez-LAPT Panama-2016-9822.jpg

Raul Paez

Raul Paez will return to the final table as the chip leader. With over $1,800,000 in career earnings, “El Toro” is the most experienced player remaining and he’s hoping that the third time can be the charm at an LAPT final table. The Spaniard finished third at the Main Event final table in Columbia during Season 5, then three years ago bubbled the final table in Panama. –WOC   

Seat 7: Andres Carrillo, Colombia — 659,000

Andres Carrillo-LAPT Panama-2016-9708.jpg

Andres Carrillo

Andres Carrillo returns as one of two players under the million-chip mark, meaning that the Columbian will likely be active early at this LAPT9 Panama final table. Carrillo’s past tournament results are relatively few and far between, but with scores from across the globe — including EPT final table finishes in Barcelona and Malta — if he is able to find an early double, he’ll be a contender. –WOC

Seat 8: Aaron Mermelstein, USA — 1,802,000

Aaron Mermeltein-LAPT Panama-2016-9806.jpg

Aaron Mermelstein

As we said yesterday, if chip leader Raul Paez is the creme, Aaron Mermelstein is what settles just under the creme. He’ll come back second in chips and the two-time World Poker Tour champion will be looking to make Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino history today. He currently sits third on the all-time Sortis money list and a deep run today could earn him his best career LAPT finish and move him up that leaderboard. –WOC   

And as a reminder, here’s what they’re playing for (along with the LAPT trophy):

1st: $138,225
2nd: $86,880
3rd: $62,200
4th: $48,500
5th: $38,040
6th: $29,880
7th: $22,300
8th: $15,440

Stick close to the PokerStars blog for start-to-finish coverage of the final table today, including live updates, chip counts, photos, and more.

lapt9panama-trophy.jpg


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PokerStars Blog Reporting Team at LAPT9 Chile: Will O’Connor and Martin Harris. Photos by Carlos Monti. Follow the PokerStars Blog on Twitter: @PokerStarsBlog

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LAPT9 Panama: Main Event Day 3 live updates

LAPT9 Panama: Main Event Day 3 live updates

Ballroom-LAPT Panama-2016-9481.jpg

* CLICK TO REFRESH FOR LATEST UPDATES
* CHIP COUNTS | PRIZE POOL AND PAYOUTS

* Day 3 will play down to the eight-handed final table
* Prize pool: $721,665; 1st place: $138,225
* 32 players of 553 entries remain

11:00am: Blanco, Mermelstein final 32 into Day 3

Bienvenido, friends, to our coverage of Day 3 of the Latin American Poker Tour Panama Main Event where just 32 players are left, led by Anderson Blanco who enjoyed a late night rush on Saturday to finish with a stack of 896,000 to start play today.

The Colombian has earned a few cashes before, most notably finishing 19th in the LAPT5 Colombia Main Event in Medellin. He’s in good position to better than finish here, although like everyone else still with chips he hopes to do much more than that and earn the $138,225 first prize awaiting the winner.

Anderson Blanco-LAPT Panama-2016-9628.jpg

Blanco looking to bank a big finish

Close behind Blanco to begin will be Aaron Mermelstein in second position with 836,000. The Philadelphian owns two World Poker Tour titles — both won in 2015 — and has earned over $1.5 million in tournaments in the last five years.

Speaking of two-time champs, another storyline worth keeping an eye on today will be how Oscar Alache fares. Alache is currently tied with the three Argentinians — Nacho Barbero, Fabian Ortiz, and Mario Lopez — for the most LAPT Main Event titles with two, meaning the Chilean would have the record all to himself should he manage to win a third here. 

Alache returns to a below average stack today, but an early double would get him back close to the average moving forward, and he’s shown before an ability to perform well during the endgame.

Others returning to big stacks will be Blanco’s fellow countryman Fernando Gutierrez (716,000), the young Austrian Tobias Schwecht (679,000), and Ruben Suarez of Venezuela (657,000). Here are the complete chip counts of all 32 players to start play today, and check out as well the “Prize Pool and Payouts” page to see who earned part of the $721,665 prize pool thus far.

Play will pick back up in the middle of Level 20 (blinds 5,000/10,000, ante 1,000), which makes the average stack (341,187) worth just over 34 big blinds when play begins. Come back at 12 noon Central time and we’ll continue to bring you live updates, hand reports, bustouts, photos, chip counts, and more as we find out together who will be the next LAPT Main Event champion. –MH


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PokerStars Blog Reporting Team at LAPT9 Chile: Will O’Connor and Martin Harris. Photos by Carlos Monti. Follow the PokerStars Blog on Twitter: @PokerStarsBlog

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LAPT9 Panama: Main Event Day 2 live updates

LAPT9 Panama: Main Event Day 2 live updates

LAPTPanama-Table.jpg

* CLICK TO REFRESH FOR LATEST UPDATES
* SELECTED DAY 2 CHIP COUNTS | PRIZE POOL AND PAYOUTS

* Day 2 will play down to 32 players (or as announced)
* 172 players of 553 entries remain
* Top 79 finishers make the money

10:55am: Maxence Debar leads charge into Day 2

Buenos días again, everyone, from warm and sunny Panama City where just over an hour from now Day 2 of the Latin American Poker Tour Panama Main Event will be getting underway.

From a 553-entry field just 172 players remain, all vying to reach the top 79 spots and the cash, with the $138,225 first prize up top providing still further motivation to make a deep run to Monday’s final table.

Best positioned to begin today will be Maxence Debar who built a huge stack of 289,900 by the end of his Day 1 flight.

Maxence Debar-LAPT Panama-2016-9010.jpg

Maxence seeks max dollars

Debar’s nearest challengers to start Day 2 will be Rafael Escobedo (215,500), Nicolas Baliner (184,900), Jessica Perez (178,900, and Luis Cruz (177,700). 

Meanwhile Hunter Cichy (123,500), LAPT8 Peru champion Claudio Moya (122,200), Raul Pino (116,200), Gustavo Lopes (100,200), and Aaron Mermelstein (89,700) all return to above average stacks, while two-time LAPT champions Oscar Alache (88,200), Mario Lopez (81,400), and Nacho Barbero (52,600) remain in contention, as does the lone Team PokerStars Pro in the field, Leo Fernandez (24,900).

Leo Fernandez-LAPT Panama-2016-9270.jpg

Leo’s currently looking up at the big stacks

Click here for a look at a complete rundown of all 172 players’ chip counts to start Day 2.

We’ll be back at 12 noon Central time when the first hands of Day 2 are dealt, and carry you all of the way through the bubble bursting and down to 32 players (so goes the plan, anyway) with live updates, photos, chip counts, and more. Hasta entonces! –MH


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PokerStars Blog Reporting Team at LAPT9 Chile: Will O’Connor and Martin Harris. Photos by Carlos Monti. Follow the PokerStars Blog on Twitter: @PokerStarsBlog

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LAPT9 Panama: Main Event Day 1B live updates

LAPT9 Panama: Main Event Day 1B live updates

Ballroom-LAPT Panama-2016-8828-a.jpg

* CLICK TO REFRESH FOR LATEST UPDATES
* CLICK FOR SELECTED DAY 1B CHIP COUNTS
* 10 one-hour levels scheduled for today. Play ends ~12 midnight CT
* 63 players survived from 218 Day 1A entries (Day 1A chip counts)

11:00am: Day 1B awaits

Welcome back to the Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino for the second and final Day 1 flight of the Latin American Poker Tour Panama Main Event. 

This $1,500 buy-in tournament attracted an impressive turnout yesterday, with 218 entries total from which 63 players advanced to Saturday’s Day 2. Given how Day 1Bs often tend to attract roughly twice what Day 1As do, we’re already bracing for a huge total field and prize pool for this one.

The Frenchman Maxence Debar surged ahead of everyone last night to finish with a commanding lead, ending with 298,900 chips when no one else had even crossed the 200,000-chip mark. We’ll see whether or not anyone can scale such heights today.

We’ll also be expecting to see some of the same faces today whom we saw yesterday, as those who busted Day 1A can come back to try again. They’ll be playing 10 one-hour levels again today, with late registration and the re-entry option staying available all of the way through the start of Level 7.

Things kick off at 12 noon local time — that’s Central Time — so stick close starting then for live updates, chip counts, photos, and more as we continue to learn together who will be the next LAPT Main Event champion. 

Meanwhile, peruse our Day 1A coverage and look over the complete Day 1A chip counts. –MH


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PokerStars Blog Reporting Team at LAPT9 Chile: Will O’Connor and Martin Harris. Photos by Carlos Monti. Follow the PokerStars Blog on Twitter: @PokerStarsBlog

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LAPT9 Panama: Main Event Day 1A live updates

LAPT9 Panama: Main Event Day 1A live updates

LAPT-Panama.jpg

* CLICK TO REFRESH FOR LATEST UPDATES
* CLICK FOR SELECTED DAY 1A CHIP COUNTS
* 10 one-hour levels scheduled for today. Play ends ~12 midnight CT
* Unlimited re-entries available through the start of Level 7 (after dinner break)

10:15am: Welcome to Panama! Who will be the next LAPT champion?

Buenos días again, everyone! The Latin American Poker Tour is back in action this week with the next stop of Season 9 here in Panama City, returning again to the beautiful Sortis Hotel Spa & Casino. The weather is warm outside, with temps in the 80s (Fahrenheit) making it nice to sit poolside and jump in every now and then, too. 

The action will be heating up inside, too, in a little while, as the first of two Day 1 flights for this $1,500 buy-in Main Event begins at 12 noon (that’s Central Time). And we expect a lot of players to be jumping in here as well. 

So far during this Season 9 we’ve witnessed the Greek player Georgios Sotiropoulos top a field of 607 to win LAPT9 Bahamas, then Rodrigo Strong of Brazil outlast a 565-entry field in Viña del Mar to win the LAPT9 Chile title. Meanwhile last year at the Sortis it was the Canadian Shakeeb Kazemipur beating out everyone for the LAPT8 Panama trophy, where there were 422 entries for a higher buy-in $2,500 event. 

This marks the fifth time the LAPT has visited Panama’s capital city, where prior to Kazemipur’s win it was Fabian Ortiz of Argentina earning his second LAPT title here in Season 7, Galal Dahrouj of Colombia winning in Season 6, and Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez triumphing in Season 5.

Today’s schedule calls for 10 one-hour levels with a dinner break after Level 6. Players who bust prior to dinner can re-enter as many times as they want until the start of Level 7, after which they’ll still have an option to come back and play tomorrow’s Day 1B, if they wish.

The PokerStars Blog live reporting team will be on hand every step of the way from today through Monday’s finish. Stick close for live updates, chip counts, photos, and more starting at 12 noon CT as we find out together who is going to be the next LAPT champion. –MH 

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The LAPT returns to the Sortis Hotel Spa & Casino


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PokerStars Blog Reporting Team at LAPT9 Chile: Will O’Connor and Martin Harris. Photos by Carlos Monti. Follow the PokerStars Blog on Twitter: @PokerStarsBlog

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LAPT9 Chile: Day 2 live updates

LAPT9 Chile: Day 2 live updates

laptchile_dinner2.jpg

* CLICK TO REFRESH FOR LATEST UPDATES
* CLICK FOR LATEST SELECTED CHIP COUNTS
* 104 of 565 remain (79 get paid)
* Want more tournament action? Click for Eureka6 Rozvadov coverage

4:35pm: chips ahoy
Level 15 – Blinds 1,500/3,000 (400 ante)

We’re back and ready to begin Level 15. Here the biggest stacks and notable names in the room. –JS

Name Country Chips
Manuel Urrejola Chile 315000
Francisco Rocha Chile 280000
Frank Naranjo Colombia 275000
Alfredo Torres Chile 255000
Bruno Vendramini Politano Brazil  240000
Fernando Martinez Argentina  235000
Andres Finkelberg Argentina  230000
Sebastian Ruiz Chile 175000
Francisco Benitez Uruguay  135000
Sergio Antonio Palma Herrera Chile 132000
Lucas Fernandes Tabarin Brazil  124000
Richard Dubini Argentina  96000
Andrius Bielskis Lithuania  92000
Bruno De Oliveira Severino Brazil  84000
Mauricio Zeman Chile  60000
Fabian Chauriye Chile 57000
Fernando Reines Cornejo Chile  51000
Bruno Pereira Lima Kawauti Brazil  45000
Fabian Daniel Ortiz Argentina  22500

manuel_urrejola_laptchile_d2.jpg

Manuel Urrejola leads

4:23pm: Take a break
Level 14 – Blinds 1,200/2,400 (300 ante)

Our players have gone on a 15-minute break. There are 104 players remaining, and 79 will get paid. Notable chip counts are coming shortly. –JS

4:12pm: Ruiz four-bets, then flops better
Level 14 – Blinds 1,200/2,400 (300 ante)

A trend through the first few levels of this Day 2 session has been tactical pre flop play, plenty of small clicks and raises building sizable pots. Those pots have usually seen those encounters end with the chips getting in the middle at some point or another and Sebastian Ruiz just four-bet and called off with ace-queen to score a massive knockout.

Action was picked up with Alejandro Rodriguez opening the action to 5,200 from middle position, a player then three-bet the hijack to 13,200. Ruiz was waiting in the cutoff and after some thought, he four-bet to 23,000. The button and blinds folded back to Rodriguez, who looked like he wanted to do something with his 50,000 chip stack.

He couldn’t pull the trigger, eventually folding, but the three-bettor could. He immediately moved all-in for 63,000 total and Ruiz snap called, only to see that he was dominated. His opponent held [Ad][Kh] to Ruiz’s [Ah][Qh] and the Chilean would need to hit to score the knockout.

He did just that, spiking his pair on the flop and holding through the [Qs][4d][3c][9c][4c] runout, a board that left his opponent in near disbelief. That player hovered around the tournament area for a few minutes and then eventually headed out, while Ruiz stacked up just shy of 175,000. –WOC

3:52pm: Table movements
Level 14 – Blinds 1,200/2,400 (300 ante)

We’ve just had a table break and it featured a couple of big names.

One was our sole remaining two-time LAPT champ Fabian Ortiz, who now is sitting alongside start-of-day chip leader Francisco Benitez, as well as Bruno Severino and Lewis Osvaldo.

Meanwhile, former November Niner Bruno Politano from Brazil, who shared that original table with Ortiz, is now sat in tough spot – to the direct right of new chip leader Manuel Urrejola. Mauricio Zeman joins them on that table. –JS

3:45pm: Our new chip leader
Level 14 – Blinds 1,200/2,400 (300 ante)

The man with the most chips right now is Chile’s Manuel Urrejola, who has a massive 300,000 stack right now. We’ll have all the big stacks on the second break of the day, but I don’t think anyone comes close right now. –JS

3:35pm: Adding some color and emotion
Level 14 – Blinds 1,200/2,400 (300 ante)

Poker tournament reporting is an interesting task. In a few small paragraphs you not only have to explain what happens in a given hand but you also have to make it entertaining and engaging to the reader. You have to put them right into the action, giving them a sense of what exactly is happening at the table.

We’ve been trying to do just that over the last two days and Rodrigo Strong, who we featured during Friday’s Day 1A session, let us know that our work was well received by family and friends who were following the PokerStars blog. He caught up with us before play began at 12pm and commented how “we have so much emotion” in our updates.

Quite frankly, poker hands are a somewhat boring exercise. ‘Player A does this, Player B does that. Player C wins.” We’d lose our minds if we didn’t add some color, and we’d also be missing the most important part of our job: the players, the atmosphere, and the emotion around a given hand, table or event.

We’re going to report on the rest of this event as we normally would but we’ll also be keeping a little extra eye on Rodrigo over the next few levels, to see if we can catch another update, as he’s still alive with just over 120 players remaining in this LAPT9 Chile Main Event. –WOC

rodrigo_strong_laptchile.jpg

Rodrigo Strong – presumably after reading a moving piece on the PokerStars Blog

3:25pm: Level up
Level 14 – Blinds 1,200/2,400 (300 ante)

We’ve moved into Level 14 – 1,200/2,400 (300 ante). –JS

3:24pm: Gone but not forgotten
Level 13 – Blinds 1,000/2,000 (300 ante)

I mentioned in our Day 1B coverage that the PokerStars Blog team here in Chile have said ‘two-time LAPT champ’ so much over the past few days that it’s now become an in-joke. Even when I was typing it earlier I had a little chuckle to myself.

Well, it’s with much regret that I have to inform that Mario Lopez – as in two-time LAPT champ Mario Lopez – has been eliminated from this event. He opened to 5,100 and found a caller in Rodrigo Chavez from the small b lind. But then Jorge Ellena announced “all-in”, having both players covered. Lopez snap called and Chavez folded, and the cards were on their backs.

Two-time LAPT champ Mario Lopez [ac][qs]
Jorge Ellena [ah][ks]

Our man was behind and in need of help, but he couldn’t find any on the [4c][2s][td][7c][2h] board. And like that, he was gone.

But you know what? The two-time LAPT champ will always be in our hearts and in our minds. (Jorge Ellena now has 160,000 by the way). –JS

mario_lopez_laptchile_d1b.jpg

Lopez in happier times on Day 1B

3:24pm: Dubini passes Palma’s test, moves over 100,000
Level 13 – Blinds 1,000/2,000 (300 ante)

We’ve done a few posts of Richard Dubini through the early portions of this Day 2 session and with just a few minutes remaining in the level, he’s now peaking with close to 120,000. The Argentine came into this restart relatively short but he’s been involved in a lot of pots, with his more recent victory coming against Day 1A chip leader Sergio Palma.

On a board of [Qs][8h][3s][6h], Dubini check-called a bet of 12,000, leaving himself close to 45,000 behind. The [3h] paired the board and brought some backdoor draws in and Dubini checked for a second time, leading Palma to bet 24,000. It was a sizable bet and one that put Dubini to the test for a decent portion of his remaining stack.

After a minute of thought, he eventually called, giving himself a little fist pump after he saw Palma turn over [th][9s] for ten-high. Dubini turned over [ts][8s] and everyone at the table seemed to shoot the Argentinian a look, as they all realized just how good of a call that was for more or less your tournament life.

Had Dubini been wrong, he’d likely have been left with just over 10 big blinds. He wasn’t though and he’s now playing over 50 bigs heading towards Level 14. Sergio Palma is playing 135,000 and we could continue to see these two, along with big stack Andrius Bielskis, battle over the next few hours. –WOC

3:14pm: Lopez wins one but stays in danger zone
Level 13 – Blinds 1,000/2,000 (300 ante)

Two-time LAPT champ Mario Lopez is stuck in the danger zone, despite just picking up a small pot when his 4,600 bet on a [3h][6d][8c] flop got through. He only has 24,000 – good for 12 big blinds right now. –JS

3:08pm: The biggest stack in the room, but not the largest
Level 13 – Blinds 1,000/2,000 (300 ante)

Cristian Monterrosa arguably has the biggest stack in the room right now. That doesn’t mean he has the chip lead though; rather just that his chips seem to be taking up the most space of any player.

He’s built something of a chip castle with his 178,000, and it’s quite impressive. So much so that it’s currently being filmed for TV. –JS

2:58pm: Chenaud turns Hua dead
Level 13 – Blinds 1,000/2,000 (300 ante)

Even though we’re still a ways from the money bubble, we’re at the stage of the tournament where short stacked players are going to be under some intense pressure. Across the tournament area, there are nearly two dozen players working close to ten big blind stacks and He Hua was one of them until he ran into Brazil’s Guilherme Chenaud.

Action was picked up with Hua open shoving from late position for just over 22,000 and after some folds, Chenaud had a decision to make in the big blind. He asked for a count and even though it was just an eleven big blind shove, it was a decent portion of his own stack.

He was playing close to 60,000 and eventually, he elected to call. He held [Kh][Qs] and was surprised to see that he was up against [8d][7d]. He still needed to hit or fade and he did the former as the board ran out [As][4c][3s][Kd][ts]. Hua hit the rail and after making the correct call, Chenaud, who won last night’s $600 NLH Turbo side event, is playing nearly 85,000. –WOC

2:48pm: Roberly Fericio rivers Daniel Cordaro
Level 13 – Blinds 1,000/2,000 (300 ante)

Roberly Fericio entered this Day 2 session with a top ten stack and after a swingy first two levels, the Brazilian is now back near the top of the leaderboard after catching the perfect river. The hand was picked up at Table 16 with the board showing [Kc][7c][5c][td]. Daniel Cordaro checked from the big blind and Fericio, in middle position, bet 9,400 only to see Cordaro click it back with a check-raise.

That raise weighed in at 23,300 and quickly, Fericio called to see the [Js] complete the board. After check-raising the turn, Cordaro slowed down and checked the river, putting Fericio in a slightly awkward position. We weren’t inside his head but after curiously inspecting the board, his stack and his opponent’s, Fericio elected to push out a 35,000 chip bet.

Cordaro clearly didn’t like the bet, as he began to cut down his stack and try to make sense of it all. He had just over 85,000 in front of him and eventually, after close to a minute, he put out the necessary chips to call only to see the bad news.

He’d been rivered, as Fericio tabled [Kh][Jc] and after an almost painful exhale, Cordaro threw over [Kd][Qs]. His pair, and kicker, were good until the end and as the dealer push Fericio a nearly 185,000 chip pot, Cordaro sat in dead silence, head in his hands left bemoaning his luck, or lack thereof. Eventually, he snapped up and tapped the table, with Fericio sportingly sending a knock of his own across the felt, realizing how fortunate that river was. –WOC

2:38pm: Crowd gathers to watch big bluff
Level 13 – Blinds 1,000/2,000 (300 ante)

I was the first one to arrive at this hand, but by the end the table was surrounded by fellow players, TV cameras, and spectators. Here’s what happened.

Jorge Ellena had kicked off proceedings with an open to 4,200, only for Ivan Raich to three-bet from his immediate left up to 10,100. That wasn’t the end of the pre-flop action though; Ellena then four-bet to 25,000 and Raich made the call.

[3s][6d][8h] came the flop, and neither wanted to fire again as both checked. The turn came the [ks], and the action picked up again with a 15,000 bet from Ellena. Raich called.

The river landed and it was the [3h], pairing the board. Now Ellena shoved and Raich immediately asked for a count. It was 43,600 total and he went into the tank as it was for around all his chips too. The crowd had gathered by this point as Raich was staring Ellena down sternly, but he eventually gave his hand up.

Ellena flipped over [as][6h] for just a pair of sixes to go with the threes, and Raich nodded, suggesting he’d thrown away the winner. Raich has 50,000, while Ellena is up to 115,000 now. –JS

2:28pm: More or less 50/50 coming back from break
Level 13 – Blinds 1,000/2,000 (300 ante)

After a quick break, this Day 2 field is back and heading into Level 13, more or less 50% of this remaining LAPT9 Chile Main Event field will record a cash today. As it stands, 144 players remain and with 79 officially making the money, that leaves us with a pretty even split of the future haves and have nots.

The PokerStars blog will bring you all the action as this field moves towards that money bubble and if the pace at the start of Day 2 continues, as over 50 players hit the rail through the first two levels, we’ll likely get into the money before dinner. –WOC

2:24pm: AND we’re back
Level 13 – Blinds 1,000/2,000 (300 ante)

Players have returned from their break, and we’re straight into Level 13 – 1,000/2,000 with a running 300 ante. –JS

2:15pm: Notable chip counts

Here’s the big stacks and notable names on the first break of Day 2. –JS

Name Country Chips
Frank Naranjo Colombia 204000
Lucas Fernandes Tabarin Brazil  184000
Sergio Antonio Palma Herrera Chile 171000
Andrius Bielskis Lithuania  133000
Francisco Benitez Uruguay  128000
Bruno Vendramini Politano Brazil  120000
Fernando Reines Cornejo Chile  94000
Mauricio Zeman Chile  94000
Amos Ben Haim Chile  83000
Bruno Pereira Lima Kawauti Brazil  77000
Fabian Chauriye Chile 66000
Mario Lopez Rita Argentina  58000
Bruno De Oliveira Severino Brazil  57000
Richard Dubini Argentina  49000
Fabian Daniel Ortiz Argentina  38200
Osvaldo Rene Lewis Argentina 26500
Irina Petrova Russia 17400
Daniela Horno Chile 0
Juan Duran Ceron Chile 0
Damián Andrés Salas Argentina  0

bruno_kawauti_laptchile.jpg

Brazil’s Bruno Kawauti

2:08pm: First break of the day
Level 12 – Blinds 800/1,600 (200 ante)

Players have gone on a 15 minute break. We’ll have updated notable chip counts momentarily. –JS

2pm: Martin moves up the leaderboard
Level 12 – Blinds 800/1,600 (200 ante)

Wagner Martin has played some sizable pots over the last orbit. The first seeing a portion of his stack head to Rodrigo “Zidane” Caprioli after a pre flop leveling war forced the Argentinian to fold but the second shot him up the leaderboard, as he took a sizable portion of Mac Hilaire’s chips after flopping a straight.

The first hand was picked up with a player opening in early position and after some folds, Martin three-bet to 8,400 from the cutoff. Caprioli, who was on the button, then pumped it up to 19,100. The blinds and original opener folded and after a quick trip to the tank, Martin elected to wait for a better spot.

That spot came a few hands later, as he and Hilaire saw a flop of [8c][7h][6s]. Hilaire led for 4,600 and Martin raised to 12,300. The Chilean called to see the [th] fall on the turn, putting four to a straight on board. That scary called slowed both players, as Hilaire both quickly tapped the table to see the [Kc] fall on the river.

Hilaire repeated his turn action and after some thought, Martin went for value, betting 18,000. It was a decent portion of Hilaire’s stack, as he had just over 50,000 behind, and after seeing Martin splash around in a few previous pots, he elected to make a bit of a “hero call”. Unfortunately, he picked the wrong time to take a stand, as Martin tabled [5d][4d], good for a flopped straight.

Hilaire flashes [As][6d] and bottom pair was sent to the muck, while a majority of his chips were headed to Martin. When the dust settled, the Argentinean was playing just under 140,000, putting himself in a good spot as this field is just a few minutes from the first break of Day 2. –WOC

1:46pm: Dubini gets a big boost
Level 12 – Blinds 800/1,600 (200 ante)

Richard Dubini has a great opening two levels to this Day 2. In one hand we just saw against Chile’s Andrés Achelat, the Argentinian called a big 5,400 open on the button from the big blind, and the two went to a flop. It came [6c][5h][AS] and Dubini checked, allowing Achelat to c-bet for 8,100. Now Dubini made it 17,000 to go, and after a little bit of thought Achelat decided it was worth a call.

The turn landed and it was another ace – the [ac]. It put the breaks on proceedings as both players checked, resulting in the [th] on the turn. Now Dubini decided to move all-in, and Achelat asked for a count. Achelat had around 50,000 in front of him, and after the dealer counted it was saw that Dubini had him covered with 58,100. Achelat went into the tank but eventually decided to fight another day. Dubini is up to around 95,000 now. –JS

1:36pm: Petrova’s shove gets through
Level 12 – Blinds 800/1,600 (200 ante)

Russia’s Irina Petrova started Day 2 short with 22,100 and seemed to have slipped even further. After a player opened to 3,200, Petrova insta-jammed for her last 14,700 and it folded all the way around. That meant she picked up the blinds and antes, plus the 3,200 – bringing her stack to 21,500 now. –JS

1:32pm: “Limpio, limpo” until the river
Level 12 – Blinds 800/1,600 (200 ante)

One of the bigger pots we’ve seen throughout this LAPT9 Chile Main Event just played out on Table 11, with Fernando Santin and Tomas Molina getting nearly 190,000 in pre-flop with massive holdings. That hand was picked up with Santin opening the button and after the small blind folded, Molina, in the big blind, three-bet to 10,000.

Santin clicked it back again, four-betting to 25,000 but he was then faced with a five-bet shove, as Molina verbalized himself “all-in” for just under 84,000. We haven’t prided ourselves on being able to 100% translate what’s being said at the tables over the last few days but it doesn’t matter what your native tongue is to understand when someone doesn’t like the position they’re in.

“Aye yai yai,” Santin said as he went to count out his own stack, one that barely had Molina covered. He put his head in his hands and eventually called, only to see that he was in a great spot, as his [Kc][Ks] had Molina’s [Qh][Qd] drawing to just two immediate outs. The five-bettor rolled his eyes and slouched in his chair as the [tc][3s][3d] flop did nothing to help his current situation.

The [3h] didn’t do much either and Santin, turning to his friend at a table across the room, said, “Limpio, limpo.” That means “clean” in Spanish and while the runout was clean for the Argentinian through the flop and turn, the river was all kinds of dirty. The [Qs] spiked to complete the board and in a flash, Santin went from likely holding the chip lead to being left with just a handful of big blinds.

Molina apologized before getting pushed the pot, looking like he was asking Santin for forgiveness after the brutal beat. Nothing to be sorry for though and now, Tomas Molina is playing one of the bigger stacks in the room midway through Level 12. –WOC

1:22pm: Different directions for Day 1 leaders
Level 12 – Blinds 800/1,600 (200 ante)

Francisco Benitez and Sergio Palma ended their respective Day 1 starting flights with the chip lead and then, obviously, entered today’s restart one-two on the LAPT9 Chile leaderboard. While they each peaked during those Day 1 sessions, they’re trending in opposite directions heading into Level 12.

Benitez, who came back with just over 180,000 has seen close to half that stack disappear over the first hour of play. He’s now working just shy of 95,000 and while he’s fallen, he’s still working a very comfortable over 50 big blind stack. Palma hasn’t fallen though, as he’s increased his stack slightly to 185,000.

The Chilean has done so despite having to deal with one of the tougher table draws in the room. He doesn’t seem phased by the big names at Table 12 though, as he’s still near the top of the leaderboard as we continue to play through the early levels of Day 2. –WOC

1:15pm: A closer look at the field
Level 12 – Blinds 800/1,600 (200 ante)

Thanks to my colleague Reinaldo Venegas, we can now see how the field breaks down by nationalities. As you’d expect, Chileans make up most of the players, but take a look at the stats. –JS

LAPT9_Chile_Nationalities.png

1:10pm: Blinds are up
Level 12 – Blinds 800/1,600 (200 ante)

We’re now playing 800/1,600 with a 200 ante. –JS

1pm: Chop it up
Level 11 – Blinds 600/1,200 (200 ante)

Fernando Reines opened to 2,500 and Rodrigo Chavez made the call on the button. The blinds got out of the way and two players saw a flop of [3s][jd][5h]. Reines put out a c-bet of 2,600 and Chavez called, taking us to the the [7s] on the turn. Both checked, and the [8d] hit the river. It started to feel like neither player had much, but Reines now bet 5,200 – perhaps trying to steal the pot.

It turned out he was bluffing – but he was bluffing with the joint-best hand. Chavez called after thinking for a while (he had just 24,000 behind) and turned over [ac][2d] for ace high, and that’s exactly what Reines had too with the [ah][2h]. Nice call, sir. –JS

12:55pm: Cornelio Lopera leaves Daniela Horno short, then leaves the table
Level 11 – Blinds 600/1,200 (200 ante)

When a player jokes that he has ‘walking chips’, that usually means he’s playing one of the bigger stacks in the room. All Cornelio Lopera needed to earn a trip around the room, and to the bathroom, was a double up to 25,000 though, which he got courtesy of Daniela Horno.

Action was picked up with Lopera all-in for 13,400 from the small blind and Horno, looking like she limp-reshoved from middle position, also all-in for just over 20,000. Another limper, in the cutoff, had both short stack shoves covered and he went into the tank. While the third player thought, Lopera, who might be the most energetic player in the room, jumped from his seat and did a half lap around the table to stand behind Horno.

While he was the one at risk, as she had him covered, he began massaging her shoulders, drawing a round of laughter from Horno and the rest of the table. When the thinking player eventually folded, he quickly ran back to his cards and said, “Uno?” saying that each should only show one of their hold cards.

Lopera turned over the [Kc] and Horno showed [7h]. The dealer rightfully wasn’t going to let them play their own little game though, forcing Lopera and Horno to show their other card as well. They each had a matching ace, meaning Horno would have to hit to score the knockout with [Ah][7h] to the shorter stack’s [Ac][Kc].

The board ran out [Qd][th][ts][2d][Kd] and Lopera high-five himself after the river paired him up and confirmed his double. When the dust settled, Horno, still in good spirits herself, was a left with just a few big blinds while Cornelio Lopera stacked up just over 25,000 and then, in the middle of an almost oration that bordered on rambling, he said “bano”.

We know that one! The Chilean then exited the tournament area, heading to the bathroom with a little pep in his step but he should try to hurry back, as he’s still only working close to ten big blinds. –WOC

12:45pm: Great call by Tabarin
Level 11 – Blinds 600/1,200 (200 ante)

Dan Denghal opened to 3,200 from the hijack and it folded to Lucas Tabarin in the small blind. “How much do you play?” he asked (or something along those lines), and Denghal didn’t say but showed instead. He moved his stack into middle as if he was moving all-in, but only to Tabarin could get a better look. He made the call and the two went to a flop.

It came the [tc][th][8d] and Tabarin checked only for Denghal to continue for 6,500. Tabarin made a quick call and we saw the [6c] hit the turn, which both checked. Then came the [8c] on the river, bringing two pair to the board. Tabarin checked once more and Denghal threw out three blue chips for 15,000 total. Now Tabarin, who had been leaning forward the whole hand, leant back in the day for a more comfortable thinking position. It worked – he made a great call with [ad][qh] for just an ace and the board, while Denghal announed “good call” and turned over a counterfeited [2h][2s]. Denghal now has 27,000, while Tabarin is up to roughly 170,000. –JS

12:37pm: Andruis Bielskis involved early
Level 11 – Blinds 600/1,200 (200 ante)

There are a few ways players can attack a Day 2 restart. Some bide their time and wait for their spots as they figure out the lineup they’ve been thrown into and others go in trying to assert themselves as table captain. So far, Lithuania’s Andruis Bielskis has done the latter, as he’s been involved in a few hands early in Level 11.

The first saw Bielskis and Richard Dubini see a flop of [Ah][Qs][ts] in a blind versus blind encounter. Bielskis bet 1,500 from the small blind and the Argentinian called to see the [5c] fall on the turn. Bielskis bet for a second time, firing out 2,600. Again, Dubini called and while the [Js] hit the felt to complete the board, Dubini shot his opponent a quick glare.

Bielskis could likely feel that stare coming from his immediate left and after he tapped the table, Dubini did the same to get to showdown after seemingly every potential draw got there by the river. Bielskis tabled [As][3d] but top pair was no good, as Dubini turned over [Qd][5h] for turned two pair. That was enough to take the pot and get him up near 40,000 after coming into Day 2 relatively short.

In the next hand, Bielskis took a small pot off Day 1A chip leader Sergio Palma and then after he folded his button, he was back in the action from the cutoff. Rodrigo Quezada opened from middle position to 2,600 and after a player called, Bielskis did the same to see the [Kh][7s][4s] flop in position.

Quezada continued for 3,900 and Bielskis quickly called to see the [8s] fall on the turn. That forced the Chilean to slow down, as he checked and Bielskis then took the betting lead with a wager of 6,300. Quezada called and the [3s] put four to a flush on board.

The out of position Quezada checked for a second time and Bielskis decided to put him a test to close to a third of his remaining stack, sliding out 16,700. The Chilean shook his head, visibly frustrated with potentially the turn card and the river. In the end, he folded and Bielskis took in the pot, one that moved him up near the 125,000 chip mark. –WOC

12:26pm: Two knock-outs; Salas and ‘the departed’ fall to Naranjo
Level 11 – Blinds 600/1,200 (200 ante)

A few minutes ago I brought you word of arguably the toughest table in the room. Now here’s a bit about the table with the most action!

It was the table that Damian Salas was sitting at – but we’ll get to him. First came the felting of an unknown player (I tried asking for his name, but he was in no mood to talk – as you’re about to find out).

It started with an open to 2,700 from Colombia’s Frank Naranjo, which Damian Salas called from the small blind. The player we’re going to name ‘the departed’ then bumped it up to 7,200 and both Naranjo and Salas made the call.

The flop came the [ad][jh][3h] and Salas checked to the departed, who continued for 7,200 again. Now Naranjo raised to 14,400, doubling the bet. Salas got out of the way but the departed went nowhere. The turn was then the [3c] and the departed went into the tank. The cameras were rolling on the table as he thought for a while, constantly peeking back at his cards. He then decided to move all-in, but Naranjo couldn’t have called faster.

The departed let out a sigh and sheepishly turned over [ah][9s] – he knew he was beat and he was, as Naranjo had [ac][qd]. The [7c] hit the river, the departed left without a word, and Naranjo stacked 103,000.

Then – the very next hand…

Naranjo was back in the action, opening to 2,700 and facing a three-bet to 6,700 from Salas. A four-bet then arrived from Naranjo up to 21,000 and Salas went into the tank. He eventually made the call.

The dealer fanned a flop of [2d][ts][8h] and with the action on Naranjo, he slid out a bet of 20,000 in 1K chips. Salas thought for a long time once more, counting his chips (he had about 60,000 behind), and eventually made the call.

The turn was the [qd] and it was to be a very quick street. Naranjo announced “all-in”, and Salas snap-called. His confidence turned to regret, though, as he saw his [ks][kh] was crushed by Naranjo’s [as][ah]. The [2c] river changed nothing and now it was Salas hitting the rail. Naranjo might have the biggest stack in the room now with more than 190,000. –JS

12:13pm: The toughest table
Level 11 – Blinds 600/1,200 (200 ante)

While we don’t have an official seat draw to bring you, I’ve just had a walk around the room and our notable names seem to be spread quite well across the floor. However, there is one particular table featuring two-time LAPT champ Mario Lopez (here we go again), Bruno Severino, and Fernando Reines. There’s sure to be a lot of action over there. –JS

12:08pm: We’re off!
Level 11 – Blinds 600/1,200 (200 ante)

Well, it didn’t quite get started at 12pm as expected, but we’re now off and running in Level 11. Stay tuned. –JS

11:40am: Day 2 about to start
Level 11 – Blinds 600/1,200 (200 ante)

Welcome back to Viña del Mar, where the last bits of prep are underway before we kick off Day 2 at 12pm. There will be 192 players in total taking their seats today, as we combine both the Day 1A and Day 1B survivors into one field.

We’ll need to lose 113 players before we make the money, as only 79 will be able to lock up a guaranteed min-cash of $2,500. However, they’ll all have their eyes set on making it through to Day 3 and eventually claiming the $141,785 first place prize.

Uruguay’s Francisco ‘Tomate’ Benitez is out chip leader coming in with 181,800, followed by Sergio Palma who has 167,500. If you want to find out more about each of the Day 1 flights, click here for Day 1A or click here for Day 1B.

The plan is to play down to 32 players today, so the bubble is guaranteed to burst here on Day 2. Make sure you stick around all day to see how it goes down – there’s a link at the top for you to refresh the updates. –JS

PokerStars Blog Reporting Team at LAPT9 Chile: Will O’Connor and Jack Stanton. Photos by Carlos Monti. Follow the PokerStars Blog on Twitter: @PokerStarsBlog


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LAPT9 Chile: Francisco ‘Tomate’ Benitez leads the revenants on Day 1B

LAPT9 Chile: Francisco ‘Tomate’ Benitez leads the revenants on Day 1B

Have you seen that movie The Revenant? In it, Leonardo DiCaprio plays frontiersman Hugh Glass; a man on a revenge mission after being attacked by a bear and then left for dead by his backstabbing colleagues. In fact, that’s what a revenant is – someone who has come back from the dead.

Well, there weren’t any bears here on Day 1B of LAPT9 Chile, but there were plenty of revenants – i.e. players who busted Day 1A and were back today with a revived tournament life. In case you hadn’t guessed, it’s a re-entry event here at Viña del Mar.

The possibility to re-buy was too tempting for many, and in the end we had a total of 307 entries here on Day 1B, and a total of 565 across both Day 1 flights. That created a juicy prize pool of $737,325, with a handsome $141,785 up top for the winner.

francisco-benitez_laptchile_d1b.jpg

Francisco ‘Tomate’ Benitez

The player closest to that prize at the end of Day 1B is Uruguay’s Francisco ‘Tomate’ Benitez, who finished the day as our chip leader with 181,800. That tops Day 1A leader Sergio Palma’s 167,500, making Benitez the overall big stack going into Day 2. 102 players made it through from this flight, and in total 79 players will be paid, with a min-cash worth $2,500.

Parts of The Revenant were actually filmed in Argentina, and we had plenty of other Argentinians in the field today. Two-time LAPT champion Fabian Ortiz was back again, for one, having busted his Day 1A stack around 6pm. He fared a lot better today and will take 43,900 into Day 2.

fabian_ortiz_laptchile_d1b.jpg

Ortiz survived

We also had two other members of that elusive two-time champ club in Mario Lopez and LAPT Player of the Year Oscar Alache. It was a rocky day for Lopez, who busted his first Day 1B bullet earlier and then bizarrely found himself sitting in the exact same seat once he’d re-entered. His stack was up and down all day, and he ended the day with 47,400.

mario_lopez_laptchile_d1b.jpg

Lopez is coming back

Oscar Alache, on the other hand, couldn’t survive. The best player of LAPT’s Season 8 will have to wait a little longer to add to his trophy collection, as he busted his stack midway through Level 9.

alache_playeroftheyear.jpg

Alache might be Player of the Year, but he’s out of this one

The only player representing the red spade in Chile was Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez, but he could never really get anything going here today. He nursed short stacks all the way until the last level of the day before being felted.

leo_fernandez_laptchile_day1b.jpg

Leo Fernandez is gone

After Benitez, the biggest stacks in the room belonged to Javier Venegas (158,200), Luis Alberto Aray LePiche (143,600), Roberly Felicio (126,200), Yoel Palmer (121,400), 
Andres Hemola (110,900), Carlos Polna (109,000
), Jose Paez (103,300
), and Amos Ben (101,100
). They’ll also be joined by Irina Petrova (22,100) and Francisco Belaustegui (28,000) on the lower end of the counts.

You can find all of the end of Day 1B chip counts here.

Meanwhile, some of the many eliminated players we had today included Bruno Severino, Renata Teixeira, Jorge Cantos, and Pablo Chacra.

Both the Day 1A and Day 1B survivors will combine at 12pm tomorrow for the beginning of Day 2. There’ll be a total of 192 players looking to become the next LAPT champ (click here for all the Day 2 chip counts) and blinds will be 600/1,200 with a 200 ante. Make sure you come back and follow the action.

Until then, you can catch up on all of the live updates from the past two days:

Day 1A live updates
Day 1B live updates

Photos by Carlos Monti.


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LAPT9 Chile: Oscar Alache – your LAPT Player of the Year

LAPT9 Chile: Oscar Alache – your LAPT Player of the Year

It’s not often you see an entire poker room stop and applaud for someone they’re still competing with. However, when the player in question is as popular as Oscar Alache, it’s not surprising at all.

A Chile native who currently sits fourth on the country’s all-time money list, Alache has had quite a year. The icing on the cake came right before our Day 1B players here at LAPT9 Chile returned to play after their dinner break:

Alache was officially named our LAPT Player of the Year.

alache_playeroftheyear.jpg

Oscar Alache (right) with Santiago Gandara

When that message was announced over the microphone, all 200-plus of the remaining Day 1B field started clapping and cheering. Alache looked touched, but remained as cool as ever.

So, how did Alache get to this point? Let’s take a look at just some of his results over the past 12 months.

– LAPT8 Chile Main Event – 1st place for $131,962

– Two side event wins

– Six final tables for a combined $70,532

Needless to say, Alache is a very worthy winner of Player of the Year. He also has another LAPT title too, one he won in Peru back in 2014. That means he’s on the short list of players who are chasing their third title alongside Fabian Ortiz, Jose Barbero, and Mario Lopez.

alache_laptchile_2015.jpg

Oscar Alache winning his second LAPT title in Chile, 2015

And Alache’s not done yet – there’s still the matter of LAPT9 Chile, in which Alache is still playing.

“I have seven LAPT trophies now, but I also have lots of room for more,” Alache said over the mic.

When you’ve got the talent, and the support of even the people you’re playing against, we wouldn’t bet against Alache scooping more trophies over the next year.

En @Enjoy_Vina @santigandara @PokerStarsLAPT me entregó el premio al “Player of the year 2015”
Inolvidable momento! pic.twitter.com/f61JO7rrcL

— alachepoker (@alachepoker) March 5, 2016

Follow all the action from LAPT9 Chile with our live coverage.

Photos by Carlos Monti.


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LAPT9 Chile: Main Event gets underway! Day 1A live updates

LAPT9 Chile: Main Event gets underway! Day 1A live updates

lapt1.jpg

CLICK TO REFRESH FOR LATEST UPDATES
CLICK FOR LATEST CHIP COUNTS

12:40pm: Giorgio Calls The River, Then Takes One
Level 1 – Blinds 50/100

Early level play usually involves small pots and quick decisions but don’t tell that to Viccenzo Giorgio and Mauricio Aguilar, who just got involved in a sizable pot on Table 10. Action was picked up with three players seeing a flop of [Qs][7c][6h], with Aguilar checking from the blinds.

Giorgio, on the button, put out a bet of 600. Aguilar then clicked it back with a check-raise to 1,500, forcing a fold from the middle position player and picking up a call from Giorgio who wasn’t going away quietly. The [Qd] fell on the turn and the action slowed, with both players quickly passing to see the [Ah] complete the board.

Aguilar quickly made a move towards his stack and bet 3,500, a sizable bet at this stage of the tournament. Giorgio’s face said it all, as he seemed to hate the bet and the spot he was in on the river. After shooting Aguilar a few looks and talking himself through the hand for close to two minutes, Giorgio called, to see that his decision-making process led to a correct call.

The out-of-position Aguilar tabled [4c][4s] and Giorgio’s hand was good, as he turned over [Ad][Kh] for a rivered top pair. The dealer mucked Aguilar’s cards and pushed Giorgio the pot, or at least pushed it towards his seat. After the hand, the victor quickly stood and stepped away from the table to receive a quick phone call.

He eventually returned to the table to stack his newly won chips and after making a great river call and receiving one on his cell phone, Viccenzo Giorgio is off to a hot start here in Day 1A. –WOC

12:20pm: Top Two From Season 8 Headline Early Crowd
Level 1 – Blinds 50/100

While this early Day 1A crowd is full of unfamiliar faces, two of the big names from Season 8’s Latin American Poker Tour stop in Chile are headlining the action. Oscar Alache, who claimed his second LAPT title last year, returns to not only defend his title but also attempt to write his name into the LAPT record books.

A back-to-back win and third overall LAPT title would do just that. The Chilean has already started 2016 with some solid results, including two final table appearances at January’s PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. He ended January with another final table run and will be walking away with hardware regardless of his LAPT9 Chile finish this weekend (he’s being presented with the LAPT8 Player of the Year title). He’s the player to watch over the next few days.

Oscar_Alache_LAPT9CHILE_D1A.jpg

Oscar Alache – LAPT Player of the Year

Alache isn’t the only podium finisher from 2015 to make an early Day 1A appearance, as Renata Teixeira has just taken her seat at a central table. The Brazilian finished 2nd last year, good for a $113,000 score, and she’ll now try to make her third career LAPT Main Event final table appearance after finishing 9th in Uruguay last September.

With past experience and immense success on the LAPT and at Vina del Mar, these two players will certainly be contenders throughout this $1,500 NL Hold’em Main Event. –WOC

Renata_Teixeira_LAPTChile_d1a.jpg

Renata Teixeira – going for the gold this year

12pm: Shuffle up and deal – vamos!
Level 1 – Blinds 50/100

We’re officially off and running here in Chile. The players start with 20,000 chips, and we’ll be playing 10 one-hour levels today. –JS

11:30am: Who will set the bar in Viña del Mar?

Buenos días! We’re here in the beautiful ‘Garden City’ of Viña del Mar in Chile for the Latin American Poker Tour Season 9’s second stop. In a half hour’s time, we’ll be kicking off the festival with Day 1A of the $1,500 NL Hold’em Main Event with unlimited re-entries.

Viña del Mar has been a regular stop on the tour since Season 2 back in 2008, when Argentina’s Fabián Ortiz took down the inaugural event. Last year it was Chile’s own Oscar Alache who won the $131,962 first place prize and his second LAPT title, having also notched a win in Peru in Season 7. To scoop the trophy in Chile last year, Alache defeated a tough final table that also included two-time LAPT champ Jose Barbero.

So, the question is: will he try and go back-to-back, overtaking both Ortiz and Barbero to become the first player with three LAPT titles? We’ll have to wait and see!

We’re expecting an exciting day of play to get this Main Event going, and if other LAPT stops are anything to go by then that’s exactly what we’re going to get. We’ll be back shortly when the players start to arrive and the cards are (almost) in the air – don’t go anywhere. –JS


Want to qualify for the LAPT? Click here to get a PokerStars account and start today


PokerStars Blog Reporting Team at LAPT9 Chile: Will O’Connor and Jack Stanton. Photos by Carlos Monti. Follow the PokerStars Blog on Twitter: @PokerStarsBlog

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LAPT9 Bahamas: Georgios Sotiropoulos soars over field, takes trophy, $308K

LAPT9 Bahamas: Georgios Sotiropoulos soars over field, takes trophy, $308K

It was another stacked final table — the second in two years — for the Latin American Poker Tour Bahamas Main Event. The $2,200 buy-in tournament served as the launching point for Season 9 of the LAPT, and from a group of decorated pros and top tournament talent, Georgios Sotiropoulos emerged as the champion and winner of a handsome $308,220 first prize.

Sotiropoulos becomes the first ever LAPT champion to hail from Greece, and adds another nice piece of hardware to his collection after having won a WSOP Europe bracelet last fall plus a couple of silver spades previously earned in EPT side events. The cash also ranks as the second-highest in his career, behind the €700,000 he earned for a runner-up in the EPT10 Prague Main Event.

Georgios Sotiropoulos Celebration-LAPT 9S-PCA 2016-3135.jpg

Georgios Sotiropoulos – LAPT9 Bahamas Main Event Champion

From a huge 851-entry field just 10 players remained to start today’s third and final day of play, with Sotiropoulos entering as chip leader. Andre Akkari of Team PokerStars Pro was part of the final day’s group as well representing Latin America from Brazil, but he would see his stack dwindle early before busting in 10th when his pocket sevens couldn’t improve against Joe Kuether’s pocket queens.

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Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari – 10th place

Not long after that Luc Greenwood of Canada was ousted in ninth in another battle of pocket pairs when his jacks couldn’t overcome Taylor Von Kriegenbergh’s pocket aces.

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Luc Greenwood – 9th place

Sotiropoulos had lost the lead only briefly to Darren Elias during the early going today, but by the time the official final table began he was back in front and would never reliquish the lead again.

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The LAPT9 Bahamas Main Event final table

Ismael Bojang, presently living in Austria although from Hamburg, Germany originally, was one of the short stacks with eight left, and he’d end up losing those chips to Elias after his pocket sevens couldn’t hold against the latter’s ace-deuce.

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Ismael Bojang – 8th place

The pace slowed a bit thereafter, but soon the blinds were just too big for the shorter-stacked players to wait much longer, and a series of all-ins ensued with some called and others yielding double-ups.

Elias then found himself on the short side, and before long he was all in with a pair of tens against Sotiropoulos’s pocket queens. A queen on the turn left the American drawing dead, and Elias was out in seventh.

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Darren Elias – 7th place

Soon Sotiropoulos had become an overwhelming chip leader, moving up over 6 million at a time when no one else had as much as a third of that. The circumstances were perfect for Sotiropoulos to exert pressure, and he did so relentlessly, opening most pots. He’d reraise-shove over others’ three-bets as well, forcing folds and making things hard all around for his more-than-worthy competitors.

Chad Eveslage would be the next out in sixth following a big three-way all-in hand in which his pair of queens was no match for Will Molson’s ace-king or Von Kriegenberg’s ace-queen after an ace came among the community cards.

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Chad Eveslage – 6th place

Molson then managed to find what looked like a good spot all in with ace-king against Sotiropoulos’s ace-eight. But an eight came among the community cards, and the Canadian who owns both a runner-up and a victory in PCA $25K High Rollers added a fifth-place finish to his impressive résumé.

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Will Molson – 5th place

A little later Sotiropoulos would be the one knocking out Joe Kuether in fourth place in a preflop all-in that saw Kuether’s pocket jacks fail to stay in front against the Greek player’s queen-nine when Sotiropoulos rivered a flush. Kuether added nearly a hundred grand to his tournament earnings, carrying him over the $5 million mark for his career.

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Joe Kuether – 4th place

Knut Karnapp of Germany was the short stack with three left — much as he’d been for most of the day, in fact — and he hung on a while longer before finally running jack-ten into Von Kriegenbergh’s pocket kings. Karnapp had no tourney scores to speak of previously, but now he has a nice line ending in “$132,080” to start his page of cashes.

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Knut Karnapp – 3rd place

That left Sotiropoulos and the American Von Kriegenbergh to battle heads-up, with Sotiropoulous having a better than 3-to-1 advantage to begin their duel.

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Heads-up action

Von Kriegenbergh fought gamely, chipping up a bit before finally succumbing in a hand that saw him flop top pair and get all his chips in on the turn, only to see that Sotiropoulos had flopped the nut flush and he was drawing dead.

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Taylor Von Kriegenbergh – 2nd place

“I thought I played the hand well,” Von Kriegenbergh said afterwards with a grin. “Sometimes the other guy just has the nuts!”

Indeed, both he and Sotiropoulos had done well to get to the tournament’s final hand. Sotiropoulos noted how he well recognized the ICM implications caused by the stack discrepancy early on at the final table, and thus correctly chose aggression to take advantage. Click here to read through the live updates from today’s exciting final day.

Georgios Sotiropoulos Celebration-LAPT 9S-PCA 2016-3149.jpg

Georgios Sotiropoulous – LAPT9 Bahamas Main Event champion

LAPT9 Bahamas Main Event final table results
Entries: 851
Places paid: 127
Prize pool: $1,650,940

1. Georgios Sotiropolous (Greece) $308,220
2. Taylor Von Kriegenbergh (USA) $187,220
3. Knut Karnapp (Germany) $132,080
4. Joe Kuether (USA) $99,060
5. Will Molson (Canada) $78,080
6. Chad Eveslage (USA) $58,440
7. Darren Elias (USA) $41,100
8. Ismael Bojang (Austria) $28,900

Click here for a complete list of LAPT9 Bahamas Main Event payouts.

The LAPT next touches down in beautiful Viña del Mar for the LAPT9 Chile event in early March. But things are only really just getting started here on Paradise Island. Stick close here at the PokerStars Blog for continuing coverage of all of the action from the 100-plus touranment schedule.


Want to be here next year? Sign up for PokerStars and start your journey. Click here to get an account.


Take a look at the official website of the PCA, with tournament schedule, videos, news, blogs and accommodation details for the Atlantis Resort in The Bahamas.

Also all of the schedule information is on the EPT App, which is available on both Android or IOS.


Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT9 Bahamas: Meet the final ten

LAPT9 Bahamas: Meet the final ten

From a huge field of 851 entries in the Latin American Poker Tour Bahamas Main Event, just 10 players will be returning for today’s final day of action, each with hopes of becoming the first LAPT Main Event champion of Season 9.

As was the case at last year’s inaugural LAPT Bahamas Main Event here at the PCA, the final eight-handed table of this year’s installment is guaranteed to be packed with top talent. There are four Americans among the final 10, with two Canadians as well as players from Greece, Austria, Germany, and Brazil.

Before the action begins, let’s get to know a little more about each of the final 10 players. We’ll go from the chip leader to the shortest stack.

1. Georgios Sotiropoulos (Greece) — 3,975,000

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Georgios Sotiropoulos

Chip leader Georgios Sotiropoulos is just one of many players bringing an impressive list of prior tournament triumphs to today’s final day of play with more than $1.6 million in career tournament winnings, all collected in the last five years.

Sotiropoulos owns a WSOP Europe bracelet (won last fall in a €1,100 NLHE Turbo event), a couple of silver spades won in EPT side events (at the EPT10 Grand Final in Monte Carlo and at EPT11 Deauville), and came second in the EPT10 Prague Main Event for a career-high €700,000 score.

2. Joe Kuether (USA) — 2,530,000

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Joe Kuether

Joe Kuether of Wisconsin was the first player to a million chips in this event and enjoyed the chip lead during the early evening yesterday before Sotiropoulos took over the top spot. Like Sotiropoulos, Kuether has a long list of deep runs and wins in tournaments, having amassed over $4.9 million in earnings over the course of his career.

Among Kuether’s career highlights was one that kicked off his 2015 in grand fashion right here at the Atlantis when he finished runner-up in the $25,000 High Roller for a career-best $1,050,000 prize. Kuether has numerous six-figure scores and a couple of EPT side event trophies to his credit. Most recently he took third in the WPT Borgata Main Event in September (for $262,994) and second in the WSOP Circuit Hammond Main Event (for $220,848).

3. Darren Elias (USA) — 2,040,000

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Darren Elias

Darren Elias of Cherry Hill, New Jersey continues the theme, coming in with more than $3.3 million in career tournament winnings highlighted by his winning two World Poker Tour Main Event titles in the space of two months in 2014 when he won the WPT Borgata Open (in mid-September) and the WPT St. Maarten here in the Caribbean (in November).

Elias has also enjoyed success here on Paradise Island in the past, finishing 13th in the 2013 PCA Main Event, third in the $10,200 High Roller at the 2011 PCA, and numerous other cashes at the Atlantis.

4. Chad Eveslage (USA) — 1,685,000

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Chad Eveslage

Chad Eveslage of Indiana will begin the day fourth in chips, having previously collected $600,000-plus in tournament earnings including several WSOP cashes and a handful of previous PCA scores.

Eveslage’s biggest score to date was the $103,025 he earned for finishing 66th in the 2014 WSOP Main Event, which means if he can make the top three today he’ll exceed that as a new career-high.

5. Will Molson (Canada) — 1,350,000

Will Molson-LAPT 9S-PCA2016-2811.jpg

Will Molson

The Canadian Will Molson is another of our final 10 who has done well at the Atlantis before, having won the $25,500 High Roller Event at the 2011 PCA for a career-best $1,072,850 cash — a score is roughly half of the almost $2.1 million Molson has earned in tournaments throughout his career.

Those who remember that finish probably remember Molson had taken runner-up in the same $25,500 High Roller the year before at the 2010 PCA (for $322,075). The player from Montreal also has made numerous deep runs in EPT events, including winning a silver spade in a side event at EPT8 Campione.

6. Knut Karnapp (Germany) — 1,345,000

The German Knut Karnapp comes to today’s final table in the middle of the pack, chip-wise. He’s the exception to the rule at this final table, not bringing a long list of live tournament successes like the others. But with more than $300K up top for the winner, a win today could lead off such a poker résumé in grand fashion.

7. Andre Akkari (Brazil)– 1,275,000

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Andre Akkari

The lone Team PokerStars Pro remaining is also the lone representative of Latin America among the final 10. Andre Akkari is of course a very familiar face for those of us who follow the LAPT. He’s also a big part of the Brazilian “boom” in poker that has been occurring over the last decade, a topic he discussed at a “Breakfast with the Pros” session prior to the start of Day 1 of this event.

Akkari has over $1.4 million in live tournament earnings, including winning a WSOP bracelet in a $1,500 NLHE event in 2011. His best previous finish in a LAPT Main Event was in 2013 at LAPT6 Brazil in São Paulo where he finished fifth.

8. Luc Greenwood (Canada) — 1,175,000

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Luc Greenwood

Canadian Luc Greenwood of Toronto has more than $320,000 in live tournament winnings, with his best live cash being for $75,000 right here in the Bahamas when he took 21st in the 2010 PCA Main Event.

One of three poker-playing brothers along with Max and Sam, Luc has collected several cashes in the WSOP, on the EPT, and on other tours as well.

9. Taylor Von Kriegenbergh (USA) — 1,020,000

Taylor von Kriegenbergh -LAPT 9S-PCA2016-2877.jpg

Taylor Von Kriegenbergh

With more than $1.8 million in tournament earnings, Taylor Von Kriegenbergh of Massachussets may be returning to one of the short stacks today, but he’s got one of the longer lists of previous successes including many deep runs and a couple of wins.

His career highlight prior to this week was winning the $10,000 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown in 2011 where he topped a 433-entry field to earn a handsome $1,122,340 payday.

10. Ismael Bojang (Austria) — 710,000

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Ismael Bojang

Ismael Bojang — of Germany, though listed with Austria — is another familiar face from the various international tours, having earned more than $1.8 million in tournaments over the years while showing a proficiency in many different games besides no-limit hold’em.

Bojang has a couple of EPT side event titles to his credit, including one in a €10,300 PLO event at EPT9 Deauville. His largest career cashes came at final tables during last summer’s WSOP where he finished third in the $10,000 2-7 Triple Draw event (for $130,851) and sixth in the $25,000 PLO High Roller (for $187,571).

Here is how the final 10 players will be seated when the first hands of Day 3 are dealt:

Table 9
Seat 2: Taylor Von Kriegenbergh (USA) — 1,020,000
Seat 3: Andre Akkari (Brazil)– 1,275,000
Seat 4: Darren Elias (USA) — 2,040,000
Seat 5: Joe Kuether (USA) — 2,530,000
Seat 7: Georgios Sotiropoulos (Greece) — 3,975,000

Table 10
Seat 1: Luc Greenwood (Canada) — 1,175,000
Seat 3: Chad Eveslage (USA) — 1,685,000
Seat 4: Knut Karnapp (Germany) — 1,345,000
Seat 6: Will Molson (Canada) — 1,350,000
Seat 7: Ismael Bojang (Austria) — 710,000

And here is how the payouts are scheduled for the final 10 finishers — note the big difference between finishing 10th and taking the top prize:

1st: $308,220
2nd: $187,220
3rd: $132,080
4th: $99,060
5th: $78,080
6th: $58,440
7th: $41,100
8th: $28,900
9th: $22,920
10th: $18,900

After the first bustout today, the two short-handed tables will combine into one nine-handed table, then after the next knockout they’ll reach the official eight-handed LAPT final table.

Play begins at 12 noon ET with the start of Level 27 (blinds 25,000/50,000, ante 5,000), with levels for this final day lasting one hour each.

Join us then to see who from this formidable group emerges to take the first LAPT trophy of the season as well as one of the bigger PCA side event titles from this year’s festival.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT announces new format for Season 9

LAPT announces new format for Season 9

Everyone knows, when the seasons change, so does the world around us. So it goes with the Latin American Poker Tour. Today, the LAPT announced it making some big changes for its upcoming ninth season.

The most noticeable change will be the size of the buy-in. Except for the upcoming event at the PCA, all Main Event buy-ins will now be $1,500. The Bahamas event will cost $2,200 to enter. The LAPT expects the field sizes to be even bigger in the coming year.

Edgar Stuchly, Director of Live Events at PokerStars, said, “The poker industry is booming in Latin America and by providing the best live poker experience in the region we will contribute to this growth for many years. Every poker player will want to compete in the LAPT next year. The tour attracts some of the world’s best poker players, along with Team PokerStars SportStars such as Ronaldo and Neymar Jr, while offering more tournaments than ever before and buy-ins starting from as little as $50 to cater for our recreational players.”

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The LAPT also plans to debut a new $400 No-Limit Hold’em Cup event and more poker variants across the board with mixed games and multiple Pot Limit Omaha tournaments offered at each stop.

Brazilian Team PokerStars Pro, Andre Akkari, said, “Over the past 10 years I’ve been playing poker tournaments all around the world and it’s great to see games that are popular in North America and Europe make their way to Latin America. Other games besides Texas Hold’em, such as Pot Limit-Omaha, will only become more popular if they are made available to play. With more variety available, the LAPT will appeal to more online grinders, recreational players and mixed game players, which will mean more players, larger tournament fields and bigger prizes.”

TOUR SCHEDULE

The LAPT Bahamas Main Event runs January 7-9 and is expected to draw a record number of participants. After that, the tour returns to the same destinations as last season – Chile, Panama, Uruguay and Brazil – with only Peru absent from the schedule.

Here’s the full schedule.

LAPT Bahamas
Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island
January 7-9, 2016

LAPT Chile
Enjoy Casino & Resort, Vina del Mar
March 4-8, 2016

LAPT Panama
Sortis Hotel & Casino, Panama City
May 12-16, 2016

LAPT Uruguay
Conrad Resort & Casino, Punta del Este
September 23-27, 2016

LAPT Brazil during BSOP Millions
São Paulo
TBC

For more information, visit LAPT.com


Ready to sign up for PokerStars? Click here to get an account.


is the PokerStars Head of Blogging.

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LAPT8 Brazil: A tale of sound and Yuri — Yuri “theNERDguy” Martins wins Grand Final

LAPT8 Brazil: A tale of sound and Yuri — Yuri “theNERDguy” Martins wins Grand Final

It’s all over from São Paulo! What an incredible five days it has been, with a suitably exciting finish. When we last left off, just two were left from the 426-entry field, both from Brazil — Yuri Martins and Afonse Henrique. And after an up-and-down battle following a two-handed deal, it was Martins managing to outlast his fellow countryman to win the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final and a prize of R$652,509.

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Yuri Martins – LAPT Grand Final champion

When we last left off Martins and Henrique were well into their heads-up duel, with the stacks nearly even after both players had survived all-ins to continue the match.

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The Grand Final’s grand finish

Martins then edged ahead once again, and after Henrique chose to open-raise his stack of 5.645 million from the button (about 23 big blinds), Martins made the call.

Henrique: [Kc][9s]
Martins: [Kd][Qh]

The large crowd began to yell, all gathered in front of the feature table and down the center aisle of the spacious Golden Room here in the World Trade Center São Paulo complex. Even players in the Brazilian Series of Poker Main Event turned to look up at the big screen over the feature table as the announcer reported what was happening.

The flop came [5d][Qc][9h], pairing both players’ kickers, and the sound from the crowd swelled louder. Martins remained seated with a serious look, but broke into a grin when Henrique came over and patted his shoulder, bending over to share a few words.

The turn was the [7s], signifying nothing (as the saying goes). Then came the river — the [Kh] — and it was over. The crowd roared as Martins stood beside Henrique and the pair shook hands, exchanging congratulations and discussing details of what had just happened between them.

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A last heads-up exchange amid the noise

As “theNERDguy” on PokerStars and elsewhere, Martins has earned over $5 million playing online, highlighted by a runner-up finish in the World Championship of Online Poker Main Event in 2014. Meanwhile, what he earns for this win easily exceeds his previous best live cash — only one of the reasons why the win is a momentous one for Martins.

“Being able to win here in Brazil is great,” he explained afterwards. “Getting to celebrate with friends makes it very special.”

Backing up to the start of the day, Brazil was well represented among the final eight players, comprising six of the eight making it to today’s final day.

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The final eight

Henrique had a narrow chip lead to start the day, but during the first two hours of play would increase that advantage dramatically while the short stacks held on desperately to keep surviving. At one point Henrique actually pulled off the uncommon achievement of having half the chips in play with eight players left!

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Afonse Henrique – 2nd place

Finally things began to turn for the short stacks, with two Brazilians — Gustavo Lopes and Bruno Kawauti — going out shortly thereafter, both knocked out by Henrique.

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Gustavo Lopes – 8th place

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Bruno Kawauti – 7th place

A little while later two more players from Brazil were ousted — Carlos Alves who ran jacks into Andrés Herrera’s aces, then Alexandre Rivero whose pair of tens couldn’t hold up against Martins’s ace-jack.

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Carlos Alves – 6th place

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Alexandre Rivero – 5th place

That left two Chileans and two Brazilians with a chance at the trophy, but as it would happen the two players from Chile would be the next ones out.

Ricardo Chauriye had made his second LAPT Main Event final table of the season, having finished eighth at LAPT8 Peru. Here he made it all the way to fourth, getting knocked out after pushing his short stack with king-four, getting called by Martins who had a pair of jacks, and failing to improve.

Final Table-Grand Finale-LAPT-BSOP-MILLION-2015-9876.jpg

Ricardo Chauriye – 4th place

Then Chauriye’s fellow countryman Andrés Herrera took ace-six up against Martins’s queen-jack, saw a jack come among the community cards, and was eliminated in third.

Final Table-Grand Finale-LAPT-BSOP-MILLION-2015-9894.jpg

Andrés Herrera – 3rd place

That gave Martins about a 2-to-1 lead to start heads-up play, but Henrique would double through and push Martins down to just a few big blinds and the edge of elimination. But Martins climbed back, and after a lengthy battle managed to prevail.

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Yuri, with some of the sound-makers

LAPT8 Brazil – Grand Final Main Event final table results
Entries: 426
Prize pool: R$3,760,300

1. Yuri Martins (Brazil) — R$652,509*
2. Afonso Henrique (Brazil) — R$533,871*
3. Andrés Herrera (Chile) — R$329,030
4. Ricardo Chauriye (Chile) — R$261,340
5. Alexandre Rivero (Brazil) — R$204,940
6. Carlos Alves (Brazil) — R$160,540
7. Bruno Kawauti (Brazil) — R$120,700
8. Gustavo Lopes (Brazil) — R$85,730
*= reflects the results of a two-way deal that left R$118,638 in play for the winner

As noted, it’s been an amazing five days here watching the LAPT Grand Final play out while surrounded by the huge BSOP Millions series. It’s easy to see at a glance that poker in Brazil is booming:

General View-H-LAPT-BSOP-MILLION-2015-.jpg

The appropriately named BSOP Millions

While the BSOP Millions will continue through next week, that’s all for us from São Paulo as the Latin American Poker Tour’s eighth season comes to a close. Obrigado to everyone for following our coverage from Brazil and all year long. The LAPT returns soon in January to kick off Season 9 with the LAPT Bahamas event. See you then!

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: A heads-up deal, a couple of doubles, and a surprising fold

LAPT8 Brazil: A heads-up deal, a couple of doubles, and a surprising fold

Afonse Henrique had held the chip lead for nearly the entire final table, even at one point half the total chips with there were still eight players left. But Yuri “theNERDguy” Martins grabbed the edge at three-handed, then after knocking out Andrés Herrera in third was well ahead of Henrique with 8.24 million to Henrique’s 4.605 million to begin heads-up play.

Henrique took the first pot of heads-up, a decent-sized one worthy of a fist pump and shout from him upon collecting the pot. He then open-shoved the next hand and Martins folded, and the gap between them narrowed a little more.

Just a few hands later the pair spent a moment counting up their stacks, and with Martins still enjoying a slight lead they decided to pause proceedings and talk about a possible deal.

It didn’t take long before they were able to come to terms — R$533,871 for each player, leaving R$118,638 for which to play. Soon they were back in their seats, and hands were being dealt once more.

Not long thereafter the pair saw a flop with Henrique leading, Martins raising, then Henrique reraising back and earning fold, the pot being pushed to him enough to give him back the chip lead. As we’d seen him do before, Henrique stood from the table, shouting and pumping his fist in contrast to the typically quiet deliberation with which he acted during hands.

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Afonse Henrique

But soon after that Martins would draw out two pair in a hand to earn a decent-sized pot, and he edged back in front once again.

Then came a hand in which Martins raised his button, Henrique called, and a flop came [4c][7d][3d]. Henrique checked, then Martins fired a bet of 450,000. Henrique swiftly responded with a raise to 1.5 million. At that Martins paused several beats, then announced he was all in. Henrique quickly called.

Martins showed [Qc][7c] for top pair, but Henrique had hit bottom two with [4s][3s]. Henrique stood up from his chair and began making noise once more, continuing to shout despite the [9c] turn card that provided Martins a flush draw. Martins, meanwhile, sat with a stoic look, and his expression didn’t change when the [Ts] river blanked for him, earning more shouts from Henrique.

The chips were counted and reordered accordingly, with Henrique now up over 11.7 million to Martins’s 1.325 million (about eight big blinds).

Martins’s all-in raise on the next hand went uncalled, then a few hands after that they were up to Level 33, where the blinds were 100K/200K with a 30K ante. Martins shoved again, once more earning a fold. On the very next hand Henrique open-pushed from the button, and Martins called right away to commit the just over 1 million he had left.

Henrique had [Jc][9c] while Martins had [Ad][7h]. The flop came [Td][6c][3h], keeping Martins in front, then the [As] turn meant he’d clinched the hand to double back over 2 million.

A little later Martins had chipped up over 2.6 million when one of the more curious hands of heads-up took place.

It began with a raise to 450,000 by Martins from the button, then Henrique reraised to 1 million and Martins called, leaving himself just over 1.6 million behind. The flop them came [6s][Kh][Ad], prompting a bet of 1.5 million from Henrique.

Martins went deep into the tank, thinking for a couple of minutes, then interestingly he decided to call the bet and keep 120,000 behind — less than one big blind. The pot was up to 5 million.

The turn was the [Jd], and after Henrique checked, Martins put in his last chips. But Henrique didn’t act right away. Then suddenly he folded, not willing to call despite the odds he was being given to do so.

Martins won the next couple of hands after that, and now has nearly drawn even with Henrique! Keep close!

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Yuri Martins

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Chauriye, Herrera out; Martins, Henrique heads-up

LAPT8 Brazil: Chauriye, Herrera out; Martins, Henrique heads-up

Ricardo Chauriye returned from the break to Level 32 (80K/160K/20K) with the shortest stack among the final four players in the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final Main Event. And on the first opportunity given to him, the Chilean put that stack at risk.

It folded to Chauriye on the button who pushed his 960,000 into the middle, then after Yuri Martins reraised-shoved from the small blind, Andrés Herrera folded the big.

Chauriye: [Ks][4c]
Martins: [Jc][Js]

Chauriye was looking for a king, but the [7h][5c][9d][6s][Ad] runout was no help and he was eliminated in fourth (R$261,340). That’s a few spots better than his eighth-place finish when making the final table at LAPT8 Peru back in July.

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Ricardo Chauriye – 4th place

That pot pushed Martins up close to Henrique’s lead to begin three-handed play:

1. Afonso Henrique (Brazil) — 5,405,000
2. Yuri Martins (Brazil) — 5,060,000
3. Andrés Herrera (Chile) — 2,380,000

Martins soon grabbed some off of Herrera in a hand that saw him flop top pair, turn trips, and river a full house, getting a couple of streets of value along the way. That pot put Martins in the chip lead, the first time all day someone other than Henrique has been in first position.

On the very next hand, Martins opened to 200,000 from the button, then Herrera three-bet to 750,000 from the small blind, forcing a fold from Henrique. Martins didn’t waste much time before announcing he was all in, and Herrera called right away.

Herrera had [As][6c], while Martins had the same hand with which he had just won, [Qh][Jh]. The [5s][Kh][Jc] flop hit the jack in Martins’s hand, and the [9h] turn and [5c] didn’t change things. Herrera shook hands with both of his opponents, having finished in third (R$329,030), and departed.

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Andrés Herrera – 3rd place

With four left there had been two Chileans still with a chance, but with both gone there are only the two Brazilians left to battle for the LAPT Grand Final title, with Martins now having taken over the lead to start heads-up play with 8,240,000 to Henrique’s 4,605,000.

They’re taking a short break to prepare for heads-up. Stay tuned!

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Alves runs into aces, tens fail Rivero; four remain

LAPT8 Brazil: Alves runs into aces, tens fail Rivero; four remain

Level 30 ended with a couple of uncalled all-ins from Yuri “theNERDguy” Martins, then Alexandre Rivero earned a small double-up through Martins and the final half-dozen players all marched into Level 31 (60K/120K/20K).

Early in the new level Rivero doubled again, this time through Andrés Herrera. Rivero’s [Ad][5d] was behind Herrera’s [Ac][7c], but a five flopped, then Rivero turned a flush to seal it and keep his seat.

A little after that Alves saw an all-in go uncalled, then it was chip leader Afonse Henrique open-shoving his big stack from the button, with Martins deciding to call with his last 1.01 million from the big blind.

Martins had [Ac][9s] and Henrique but [Qc][3c]. An ace flopped, and Henrique was drawing dead by the turn, making the river queen no matter.

A few hands later Andrés Herrera opened from UTG, Rivero pushed for 720,000 from the hijack, and Herrera called, tabling [Ad][6d] to Rivero’s [Ac][Th]. The all-in player’s better hand held, and Rivero doubled back to about 1.5 million.

Rivero had another all-in push earn no customers, then it was Henrique opening from UTG, Carlos Alves shoving for 870,000, then Andrés Herrera reraise-shoving for 1.49 million from the small blind. It folded back to Henrique who thought a bit before folding, then Alves turned over his [Jd][Jc]. He was dismayed, though, to see Herrera’s cards — [As][Ah].

The board came ten-high — [5s][2h][7c][Ts][8h] — and Alves headed for the exit with a sixth-place finish, good for R$160,540.

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Carlos Alves – 6th place

The very next hand saw Chauriye survive after calling all in from the blinds with [Ks][4s] and spiking a king on the turn to top Henrique’s [6c][6h].

They arrived at the final hand of the level, one that started with Rivero opening for 250,000 from the cutoff. It folded to Martins in the big blind who reraised all in, and Rivero called for 1.74 million total.

Martins: [Ad][Js]
Rivero: [Th][Td]

A jack appeared in the window as the flop came [Jc][6h][9h], swinging the edge to Martins, and after the [6c] turn and [Qd] river, Rivero was out in fifth (R$204,940).

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Alexandre Rivero – 5th place

The final four are on a break now, and when they return the blinds will go up again to 80K/160K with a 20K ante. Here are the current stacks:

1. Afonso Henrique (Brazil) — 5,330,000
2. Yuri Martins (Brazil) — 3,920,000
3. Andrés Herrera (Chile) — 2,520,000
4. Ricardo Chauriye (Chile) — 970,000

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Lopes leaves, Kawauti KO’d; Henrique still ahead with six left

LAPT8 Brazil: Lopes leaves, Kawauti KO’d; Henrique still ahead with six left

Soon after they resumed play following the first break of the day, the blinds were 50K/100K with a 10K ante when leader Afonse Henrique opened for 250,000 from early position, then Andrés Herrera made a three-bet from the big blind to 680,000 — more than half his stack.

Henrique thought a long while, looking up several times across the table at Herrera, then finally let go of his hand.

On the next hand Henrique was raising again — once more to 250,000, this time from under the gun — and once again Herrera reraised him, this time from the small blind for 550,000.

It folded back to Henrique who spent some time counting out chips, then put out a big reraise — enough to put Herrera all in, and the latter called.

Henrique: [As][8d]
Herrera: [3c][3h]

The dealer put out the flop — [Ac][Th][Ks] — and the crowd reacted with a shout at the sight of the ace. The first knockout of the final table appeared imminent, with the [7s] seeming to bring that moment even closer.

Then came the river… the [3s]! That produced a much louder response, as “gmcrafter” had spiked a set to survive. That bumped Herrera all of the way up to 3.28 million, while Henrique was still the leader with 4.635 million.

A couple of hands later Gustavo Lopes opened with an all-in push for 340,000 from late position, and Herrera called from the cutoff.

Lopes tabled [10s][9d] while Herrera had that dominated with [Ac][10h], then the [Ah][4c][7s] flop put Herrera even further in front. The [8d] landed on the turn — earning a reaction from the crowd noting the open-ended straight draw — but the river was the [2d] and Lopes was eliminated in eighth (R$85,730).

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Gustavo Lopes – 8th place

Soon after that both Alexandre Rivero and Ricardo Chauriye saw their preflop all-ins go uncalled, Then Bruno Kawauti saw his push of 350,000 get called by two players — Herrera (button) and Henrique (big blind).

The flop came [2h][7c][4c], and a leading bet from Henrique pushed Herrera out. Kawauti showed his [Ad][Ks], but he was way behind as Henrique had flopped two pair with [7d][4d].

The [Kd] turn gave Kawauti some hope, but the river was the [Qs] and he departed in seventh (R$120,700).

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Bruno Kawauti – 7th place

The final six then made it to the end of Level 30. Here’s how the counts look as they move to Level 31, where the blinds are 60,000/120,000 with a 20,000 ante:

1. Afonso Henrique (Brazil) — 5,900,000
2. Andrés Herrera (Chile) — 2,925,000
3. Yuri Martins (Brazil) — 1,350,000
4. Ricardo Chauriye (Chile) — 1,110,000
5. Carlos Alves (Brazil) — 1,010,000
6. Alexandre Rivero (Brazil) — 520,000

As we post, both Chauriye and Rivero were all in again, again seeing their preflop shoves get through. Henrique is still the man to beat with six left.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Eight still remain, but Henrique has half the chips!

LAPT8 Brazil: Eight still remain, but Henrique has half the chips!

The final table of the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final was due to begin at 1 p.m. today, but final table photos and other prelimaries delayed the start a short while.

Finally the eight players took their seats around the feature table situated at the front of the Golden Hall here in the World Trade Center São Paulo complex, and the first final table hand was dealt.

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Where they started

With the blinds a big 30K/60K with a newly-increased 10K ante, start-of-day chip leader Afonso Henrique took a decent-sized pot early from Alexandre Rivero. It was a blind-versus-blind hand that saw Henrique use [6d][5d] to outdraw Rivero’s [As][Ks] to claim a chunk of the latter’s stack.

Then on the next hand Gustavo Lopes open raised all in for 500,000 from middle position with [Ah][Qd], getting a caller from the cutoff in Andrés Herrera who had [As][Js]. The better hand held up, earning Lopes the double up.

About an orbit later Herrera opened from the button, Rivero reraise-pushed for 600,000 from the small blind, and Herrera called. Rivero needed help with [Kd][Qs] versus Herrera’s [Ts][Tc], and the board brought not one but two queens to enable Rivero to double-up.

Meanwhile Kawauti became the table’s short stack, dwindling down to less than 200,000. As the the level was nearing its close, Kawauti found a hand in the cutoff seat and raised all in with his last 135,000 — just over a min-raise, in fact.

Lopes then three-bet from the button to 250,000, and Herrera responded with a big four-bet to 910,000 from the big blind. Lopes tanked then folded, and the two remaining players tabled their hands:

Herrera: [Kc][Jd]
Kawauti: [As][Js]

The dealer delivered the community cards — [3h][4d][8d][2h][Qs] — with Kawauti mock-rubbing his brow with a “whew” after the face card on the river.

They crossed into today’s second hour and the blinds increased to 40K/80K with a 10K ante. By accumulating several pots along the way, leader Henrique had chipped all of the way up close to 5 million while no one else had as much as 2 million.

Kawauti was soon all in again, this time for 315,000 from the cutoff, and Herrera made what appeared a somewhat reluctant call from the big blind. Kawauti had [Qs][Qc] and Herrera [7d][6h], and after the [Kc][Jd][3c] flop, the [5d] produced a loud “ahhhhhh” from the BSOP Millions Main Event players who can see the action up on the big screen. The river was safe for Kawauti, though — the [Js] — and he survived again.

A little later there was a bit more drama when Carlos Alves was all in against Chauriye following an all-diamond flop, but as Alves was holding the nut flush his double-up was already assured. Then just before the level ended, Chauriye reraise-shoved his short stack over a Henrique button open, and after a long study Henrique folded.

All of which is to say, while there are no knockouts to report, the situation has nonetheless changed considerably. With his massive stack, Henrique actually now has more than half of the total chips in play — with eight still left!

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Afonse Henrique

Check out these counts from just before the break:

1. Afonso Henrique (Brazil) — 6,475,000
2. Yuri Martins (Brazil) — 1,550,000
3. Carlos Alves (Brazil) — 1,140,000
4. Alexandre Rivero (Brazil) — 920,000
5. Andrés Herrera (Chile) — 800,000
6. Bruno Kawauti (Brazil) — 760,000
7. Ricardo Chauriye (Chile) — 590,000
8. Gustavo Lopes (Brazil) — 550,000

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Meet the final eight

LAPT8 Brazil: Meet the final eight

Welcome to the fourth and final day of the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final Main Event from São Paulo, Brazil. From 426 entries just eight players remain, and later today one of them will become the last LAPT Main Event champion of Season 8.

Brazil is well represented at this final table with six of the eight players being from the host country, with the other two coming from Chile. The group includes Brazil’s all-time leader in online earnings, a near-November Niner, a player making his second LAPT Main Event final table of the season, and another making his second straight LAPT Brazil Main Event final table.

Before action begins, let’s find out a little more about each of the final eight.

Seat 1: Alexandre Rivero (Brazil) — 1,490,000

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Alexandre Rivero

Hailing from Rio de Janeiro, Alexandre Rivero has been collecting cashes at the Brazilian Series of Poker since 2010, accumulating the equivalent of nearly $240,000 USD altogether. His biggest cash came at the 2011 BSOP where he won the R$3,400 High Rollers event for a R$101,300 first prize (worth about $55K USD).

Rivero has also done well on the European Poker Tour and at the World Series of Poker, including taking 19th in a $5K event at the WSOP in 2013.

Seat 2: Afonso Henrique (Brazil) — 2,885,000

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Afonso Henrique

Also from São Paulo, Afonso Henrique will carry the chip lead to the final table after having made a late surge on Day 2 to move into first position, then doing so again at the end of last night’s play to edge in front with eight left.

Henrique has been picking up cashes of late in tournaments in Brazil in both hold’em and Omaha, but wherever he finishes today will represent his biggest tournament score by far.

Seat 3: Ricardo Chauriye (Chile) — 1,345,000

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Ricardo Chauriye

The only non-Brazilian at the final table, Richard Chauriye is finishing a strong year of tournament poker where he’s picked up several cashes around his native Chile and Panama, with the highlight coming over at LAPT8 Peru in Lima where he made the Main Event final table with a short stack before falling in eighth for a $19,060 cash.

Before that Chauriye’s largest previous tournament score had come at the Gran Final Campeonato Nacional de Poker EPS in Santiago where he finished fourth of 257 in the Main Event for a prize worth just over $13,000 USD.

Seat 4: Yuri Martins (Brazil) — 2,710,000

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Yuri Martins

Close to the chip lead to start today is Yuri Martins of Curitiba. While Martins has accumulated a few live tournament cashes over the last five years totaling just over $100K USD, it’s online where he’s best known as a true superstar and one of Brazil’s most accomplished players, having earned more than $5 million in the virtual realm.

As “theNERDguy” on PokerStars, Martins’s most memorable finish — and the biggest cash for a Brazilian ever online — was when he took second in the 2014 WCOOP Main Event behind Fedor “CrownUpGuy” Holz, earning $708,251.21 after a six-way deal.

Seat 5: Bruno Kawauti (Brazil) — 495,000

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Bruno Kawauti

Bruno Kawauti enters today’s final table shortest in chips, although the 30-year-old from São Paulo has perhaps the most renown outside of Brazil of those remaining thanks largely to his deep run in the 2013 WSOP Main Event where he finished 15th for a $451,398 cash.

While Kawauti has numerous BSOP cashes and an impressive online résumé as well to his credit, his best previous LAPT Main Event finish was 66th at LAPT6 Panama.

Seat 6: Gustavo Lopes (Brazil) — 580,000

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Gustavo Lopes

Gustavo Lopes Vascao of Brasilía also will begin today on the short side, chip-wise, after having enjoyed the chip lead briefly for part of the evening during Day 3.

Lopes has a handful of cashes from the BSOP and LAPT adding up to just under $70K (USD) overall, including having made this very final table a year ago at the LAPT7 Brazil Main Event. There, too, he began with a relatively short stack and became the first one out in eighth, a finish he’ll hope to better this time around.

Seat 7: Carlos Alves (Brazil) — 545,000

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Carlos Alves

Our third short stack Carlos Alves of São Paulo comes to today’s final table with just a few previous BSOP cashes, with this being his first on the LAPT.

His biggest win came late last year in the 2014 BSOP Millions at São Paulo where he took 28th in the High Roller event for R$12,570. He’s already guaranteed a prize much greater than that here.

Seat 8: Andrés Herrera (Chile) — 2,735,000

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Andrés Herrera

Finally in second position in the counts to start the day will be Andrés Herrera of Chile who has nearly $100K USD worth of tournament earnings to his credit.

His biggest live career cash so far was for $35,575 in the LSOP Chile 2013 Main Event where he took runner-up at a tough final table including two-time LAPT Main Event winner Mario Lopez (who finished third). Meanwhile playing as “gmcrafter” online he’s also earned more than $800,000.

Here is how the payouts are scheduled for the final eight finishers:

1st: R$727,620
2nd: R$458,760
3rd: R$329,030
4th: R$261,340
5th: R$204,940
6th: R$160,540
7th: R$120,700
8th: R$85,730

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Play begins at 1 p.m. local time — that’s three hours ahead of Eastern time, and three hours behind CET. They’ll be up on the feature table at the front of the Golden Hall in the World Trade Center São Paulo while action in other Brazilian Series of Poker events continues at the other 150-plus tables in the room.

We’ll be here from start to finish to report on the action. Join us then to see who becomes the Grand Final champion.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Afonse Henrique ends Day 3 on top in Grand Final

LAPT8 Brazil: Afonse Henrique ends Day 3 on top in Grand Final

The last two eliminations of Day 3 have come in the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final Main Event, meaning play has ended and the eight-handed final table has been set.

At tomorrow’s final table there will be seven Brazilians and one Chilean (Ricardo Chauriye, making his second LAPT Main Event final table of the year after taking eighth at LAPT8 Peru). It’s crowded at the very top of the leaderboard, but at night’s end it was Afonso Henrique earning the honors as the overnight leader after bagging a big stack of 2,885,000.

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Afonse Henrique

Speaking of being crowded, it was another busy day in the Golden Hall of the WTC São Paulo on Saturday, with the Brazilian Series of Poker Main Event continuing to play out along with numerous other side events.

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A busy Saturday in Brazil

There were 32 left when play began in the Grand Final mid-afternoon, all that remained from the 426-entry field that began this R$10,000 event. Alisson Piekazewicz enjoyed the chip lead to start play today.

As the first eliminations came it was Felipe Difini racing to the top of the counts, becoming the first player to accumulate a million chips. But the pace remained slow in the early going, with only a couple more knockouts coming over the next hour-plus.

Three LAPT Main Event champions still remained with 26 left, including two who had won their titles right here in São Paulo. LAPT4 Brazil champ Alex Manzano would next go out in 26th, however. Then LAPT6 Peru winner Patricio Rojas — second in chips to start the day — would fall in 21st, leaving just last year’s LAPT Brazil winner Caio Hey with a chance for title number two.

Ariel Celestino was another player with a big stack yesterday and in contention early today, but he would become short and then go out in 20th. Not too much later they were down to the last two tables, and after Thiago “KKremate” Crema went out in 16th, Caio Hey’s run ended in 15th, making it two straight deep finishes in this event for the LAPT7 Brazil champion.

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Caio Hey

Four more went out over the next hour as Yuri Martins built a big chip lead — Maximiliano Gallardo (14th), Felipe Difini (13th), Luis Gustavo Camargo (12th), and William Melo (11th).

Then it was start-of-day leader Piekazewicz making a big three-bet all-in before the flop versus Afonso Henrique with the latter calling. Piekazewicz had [6c][6h] and Henrique [Ac][Qh], and a board of [Kc][8c][7c][Th][3c] added up to a better flush for Henrique and a 10th-place finish for Piekazewicz (worth R$58,790).

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Alisson Piekazewicz

The final nine redrew and were sat around a single table, at which point Martins was leading and Henrique was second in chips.

A couple of orbits in, Andrés Herrera opened from middle position, Henrique called from the hijack, then Felipe Salgado reraise-pushed his last 575,000 (not quite a dozen BBs) and only Herrera called.

Salgado had [Ah][Jh] but was dominated by Herrera’s [Ad][Kh], and after the board ran out [4h][Ts][Ac][2d][Qs] Salgado was out in ninth (R$68,400) and the final table was set.

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Felipe Salgado

That pot nearly put Herrera in first position, but Henrique managed to hang on to the top spot. Here’s how the leaderboard looks with eight to go:

1. Afonso Henrique (Brazil) — 2,885,000
2. Andrés Herrera (Brazil) — 2,735,000
3. Yuri Martins (Brazil) — 2,710,000
4. Alexandre Rivero (Brazil) — 1,490,000
5. Ricardo Chauriye (Chile) — 1,345,000
6. Gustavo Lopes (Brazil) — 580,000
7. Carlos Alves (Brazil) — 545,000
8. Bruno Kawauti (Brazil) — 495,000

Or, if you prefer, according to seat assigments:

Seat 1: Alexandre Rivero (Brazil) — 1,490,000
Seat 2: Afonso Henrique (Brazil) — 2,885,000
Seat 3: Ricardo Chauriye (Chile) — 1,345,000
Seat 4: Yuri Martins (Brazil) — 2,710,000
Seat 5: Bruno Kawauti (Brazil) — 495,000
Seat 6: Gustavo Lopes (Brazil) — 580,000
Seat 7: Carlos Alves (Brazil) — 545,000
Seat 8: Andrés Herrera (Brazil) — 2,735,000

They’ll reconvene a little earlier tomorrow, starting at 1 p.m. local time (that’s 10 a.m. ET and 4 p.m. CET). Join us again then and we’ll share some background on the final eight, then find out together who among them becomes the last LAPT Main Event champion of Season 8. Até amanhã!

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Four more out, Yuri Martins leads with 10 left

LAPT8 Brazil: Four more out, Yuri Martins leads with 10 left

The midnight hour is approaching here in São Paulo. But the bell has already tolled, so to speak, for four more players, the latest to be eliminated from the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final. Just 10 remain now, meaning after two more knockouts they’ll be stopping for the night as eight-handed final table will have been established.

After leading some of the day yesterday, Maximiliano Gallardo’s Grand Final run has ended in 14th (R$43,240).

The Argentinian’s last hand started with him opening with a just-over-2x raise to 87,000 from under the gun, gettin one caller in the Chilean Andrés Herrera playing from the cutoff seat.

The pair watched a flop come [Ks][8s][5s], prompting an all-in shove from Gallardo that Herrera called. They showed their hands — [As][Tc] (flush draw and an over) for Gallardo, and [Ac][Kc] (top pair, top kicker) for Herrera. The turn was the [Kd] and river the [Qh], and Gallardo was gone.

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Maximiliano Gallardo

Just minutes later Felipe Difini — short-stacked after losing that big flip with Carlos Alves — watched Bruno Kawauti open-shove his own short stack of about 250,000, then called all in himself with his last 150,000. Difini’s [Ad][9h] was ahead of Kuwauti’s [Tc][9c], but the flop came an eye-popping [Jd][Kh][Qh], earning an audible response from the table at the site of Kawauti’s flopped straight.

The turn was the [4s] and river the [5h], and Difini was done in 13th (R$49,260).

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Felipe Difini

With 12 players left there were only Brazilians and two players from Chile remaining. But soon one of the Chileans was knocked out.

After Ricardo Chauriye (of Chile) raised from middle position, Luis Gustavo Camargo (also of Chile) reraise-pushed all in from the cutoff with his last 360,000. Andrés Herrera called the shove from the button and Chauriye stepped aside.

Both players had drawn an ace, but Herrera’s [Ad][9c] gave him a better kicker than Camargo’s [Ah][6d]. The cards came [Jc][3d][5h], then [8h], then [Kd], knocking out Camargo in 12th (R$49,260).

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Luis Gustavo Camargo

Just a couple of minutes after that William Melo lost most of his stack to Alexandre Rivero in a preflop all-in that saw Rivero’s [As][Qc] hold against Melo’s [Ad][Jh].

Soon after that Melo open-raised his short stack all in from UTG, and when Yuri Martins signaled he was reraising from the small blind the big blind stepped aside. Melo had [Jc][9h] and Martins [Ac][Kh]. The [Jh][Ad][Ks] flop gave Melo one pair but Martins two, and when the latter’s hand held through the turn and river, Melo was out in 11th ($R58,790).

Play moves on into Level 27, with Martins still the big chip leader.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Caio Hey’s back-to-back quest ends with 15th-place finish

LAPT8 Brazil: Caio Hey’s back-to-back quest ends with 15th-place finish

The last one-hour level saw three more eliminations, bringing the total field down to 14 players in the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final in São Paulo. As the knockout-rate suggests, the pace of play has been quite deliberate, although again three of the shorter stacks found themselves in peril and ultimately put out of the event.

First it was Anthony McShane of Scotland shoving his last 300,000 or so (about 10 big blinds) from the button with [Jc][8s], getting called by Chile’s Andrés Herrera who held [Ac][9s] in the BB, and watching a board come [Ad][Ks][Qs][7h][2s] to depart in 17th (R$39,730).

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Anthony McShane

From there they redrew and reassembled around two eight-handed tables, with Yuri Martins the chip leader by a healthy margin with about 1.85 million, comfortably ahead of nearest challengers Alfonso Henrique Ribero and Felipe Defini who then both had around 1.25 million.

Thiago Crema — the online star from Brazil also known as “KKremate” on PokerStars — was then the next out in 16th (R$39,730) after pushing his last 249,000 from UTG with [Jd][Th], the watching the table fold around to Alisson Piekazewicz in the big blind who’d woken up with [Ad][Ah]. The board was no help to Crema, and another Brazilian player headed to the cashier’s desk.

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Thiago Crema

Then it was Caio Hey who’d admirably nursed his below average stack all afternoon and evening before calling a four-bet shove from Alfonso Henrique Ribero to commit his stack of about 20 big blinds.

Hey had a strong hand with which to fight — [As][Ks] — while Ribeiro showed [5d][4d], and after the [Qh][8s][9d] Hey was still in front. But the turn was the [4c], then the river the [4c], giving trips to Ribeiro and ending Hey’s quest for a second straight LAPT Brazil Main Event title. Still, to follow-up his win wiht a 15th-place showing (for R$43,240) is quite an achievement.

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Caio Hey

Just before the level ended and a short break arrived, Carlos Alves won a huge preflop flip with [Tc][Td] versus Felipe Difini’s [Ac][Kc]. An ace flopped but so did a ten, and when Alves’s hand held he catapulted up over 1.5 million. Meanwhile Difini is now one of the shortest stacks with about 300,000.

However Martins increased his stack over the last hands before the break and is now nearing almost 3 million — about twice what those in the chase pack have at present.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Celestino, Beláustegui, Liberal out; Difini leading last 17

LAPT8 Brazil: Celestino, Beláustegui, Liberal out; Difini leading last 17

They’ve played another hour-long level at the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final in São Paulo, Brazil. Now just 17 remain gathered around three short-handed tables — still another nine knockouts to go before play concludes on Day 3.

Ariel Celestino had about half a million chips coming back from the break — around 16 big blinds’ worth — then found himself involved in a hand with fellow Brazilian Felipe Difini who had about twice that amount to begin.

The pair made it to a [7c][5c][3h] flop, after which Celestino check-raised a bet by Difini. The latter responded with an all-in push, and after some time in the tank “Bahia” came up with a call, turning over [Qc][7d] for top pair of sevens.

Celestino winced a little, though when he saw Difini table [Ac][Ad], and after the [9d] turn and [Ts] river Brazil’s top-ranked tournament player was out with a 20th-place finish (R$34,970).

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Ariel Celestino

Francisco De Beláustegui of Argentina followed Celestino out in 19th (R$34,970) after a hand versus Yuri Martins. The pair had checked a [6d][Qc][8s] flop, then Beláustegui called a bet by Martins after the [Js] turn. The river then brought the [2d] and an all-in shove from Martins, called by Beláustegui. The latter had [Ts][Th], but Martins’s [Jc][8c] for two pair was best and Beláustegui was done.

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Francisco De Beláustegui

Just a moment later another Brazilian, Leo Henrique Liberal, was all in at another table for his last 110,000 with [Ac][Jd] and ahead of Scotland’s Anthony McShane’s [Qc][Jh]. An ace on the flop made things seem even more secure for Liberal, but the turn and river brought running queens, and Liberal made his exit in 18th (R$34,970).

Difini is the clear chip leader at present, now up around 1.4 million as they move into Level 25.

Meanwhile, we should give a shout to Chile’s Oscar Alache, who with the elimination a little earlier of Patricio Rojas in 23rd place has now secured the LAPT Season 8 Player of the Year.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Manzano, Rojas sent railward; Hey last champ among final 20

LAPT8 Brazil: Manzano, Rojas sent railward; Hey last champ among final 20

We started today with three LAPT Main Event champions left in the field here on Day 3 of the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final Main Event in São Paulo. But now we’re down to just one, with the Brazilian Gustavo Lopes having been responsible for knocking out two of them.

All in with a below average stack with [Ad][2d], LAPT4 Brazil Main Event winner Alex Manzano of Chile was looking to improve versus Lopes’s [Jd][Js]. But Lopes was the one improving on the [Kc][6h][Jc] flop, giving the Brazilian a set of jacks. By the [3d] turn Manzano was standing and patting the table, his attempt at winning a second LAPT Main Event title here in São Paulo stopped in 26th place (R$27,450).

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Alex Manzano

At a neighboring table start-of-day leader Alisson Piekazewicz found himself in a short-stacked situation that had resembled Manzano’s, but after flopping a set with pocket sixes Piekazewicz managed to climb back out of danger with a double-up.

A little while later Ramiro Araujo of Brazil was down to less than a quarter million chips — that is, under half an average stack — when he watched his fellow countryman Felipe Dalgado limp in from the button. Araujo called from the small blind, then Maximiliano Gallardo made a big raise from the BB to force out Salgado, but Araujo called with his last chips.

It was Gallardo’s [5d][5h] versus Araujo’s [Kc][7h], and after the board brought no king, seven, or any other favorable combination for Araujo, he was knocked out in 25th (R$27,450).

A short-stacked Pedro Cayo soon followed Araujo out the door in 24th (R$27,450) after his [Kh][4c] couldn’t hold against William Melo’s [Qc][Tc] once a ten came among the community cards. The Argentinian Juan Manuel Calderón then fell soon after in 23rd (R$31,210) after his [Ah][Ks] failed to improve against Anthony McShane’s [Ts][Tc]. And Leonardo Foroni’s [Qd][Jh] couldn’t outrun Gustavo Vascao’s [Ah][Qc], sending Foroni out in 22nd (R$31,210).

Meanwhile LAPT6 Peru champ Patricio Rojas had started the day second of 32 in chips, but he found himself the short stack and in shove mode in an attempt to get back into contention. Finally it was Lopes who took up the challenge versus Rojas, and as happened earlier with Manzano, Rojas fell short as well to go out in (R$31,210).

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Patricio Rojas

That leaves just last year’s LAPT7 Brazil Main Event winner Caio Hey among the final 22 players. You wouldn’t have been blamed not to think Hey would be the last of the trio left, not after he began the day 31st of 32. But he’s sitting with about a half-million chips at present — below the average, but comfortable enough. And still with a chance of earning a second LAPT Main Event trophy.

Having reached the end of Level 23, the final 20 are now on a 75-minute dinner break. We’re off as well — back a little later to pick up the action once again.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Apine upended, Richard runs out; 26 remain

LAPT8 Brazil: Apine upended, Richard runs out; 26 remain

When we last left off here at the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final Main Event in São Paulo, 28 players remained with defending LAPT Brazil champion Caio Hey the shortest-stacked of all of them.

Soon, though, Hey managed a double-up with [Th][7d] versus fellow Brazilian’s [Ad][5c] following a preflop all-in when a ten managed to appear among the community cards, enabling Hey to continue to grind a short stack.

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Caio Hey

Then a little later as they were nearing the end of Level 21, a flurry of excitement at Table 79 was followed by a second similar flurry as reporters gathered around to see what the commotion was.

Three-way action on a [Tc][6d][6c] flop had resulted in two players all in and at risk versus a third who had them both covered, Brazilians all.

São Paulo’s own Luis Gustavo Camargo was the one with the most chips and the current best hand of [Js][Jc], while Pelotas’s Gustavo Apine’s [Ts][7d] gave him a lesser two pair. Meanwhile Pedro Cato of Conceição da Barra had a flush draw and overcard with [Ac][8c].

The modest roar settled into a low hum as the dealer burned and turned the next community card — the [Kc]! Cato slapped his hands at the sight of the card, then cheered aloud after the [Qh] river secured him the pot, his several sentences in Portuguese punctuated by a happy “show me the money!”

That hand pushed Cato all of the way near the 1 million-chip mark and ahead of earlier leader Felipe Difini who has slipped back in the counts a touch. Meanwhile it knocked Camargo down to around 250,000, and knocked Apine out altogether in 28th place (R$23,690).

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Gustavo Apine

Then a few minutes into Level 22, Lothar Richard of Brazil open-pushed from the button with his last 150,000 or so (about a dozen BBs) with [Ks][Ts], and Bruno Kawauti called him from the small blind with [5d][5s]. A five fell on the flop, and by the turn Richard was drawing dead to finish in 27th (R$27,450).

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Lothar Richard

Meanwhile with 26 left, Francisco De Belaustegui of Argentina has edged up into the lead, having amassed more than 1.15 million.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Four fall, Difini first to a million

LAPT8 Brazil: Four fall, Difini first to a million

Day 3 of the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final in São Paulo began with most of Level 20 left to go, and by the end of that the 32-player field who had started the day had been lessened by three.

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Day 3 begins

Ricardo Chauriye knocked out a couple of short stacks at his table in the early going, using pocket aces and then pocket kings to do so.

In the first instance, the Chilean’s [As][Ac] bested Brazilian Bruno Nunes’s [Qs][Tc] after the latter got it all in on a queen-high flop. Shortly after that it was Chauriye’s [Ks][Kd] versus Colombian Camilo Posada’s [Js][Ts], and the board missed Posada to send him railward as well.

In between those two knockouts, Alban Juen took his chances with [Ah][7d] versus Felipe Difini’s [6h][6d], but a run out of [3c][9h][Qc][4s][Tc] spelled the end of the Frenchman’s run.

Nunes earned R$19,930 for finishing 32nd, while Juen (31st) and Posada (30th) each took away R$23,690. Meanwhile thanks in part to his knockout of Juen, Difini had cruised into the chip lead as the first player over 1 million chips.

The pace slowed from there, and they were well into Level 21 when a short-stacked Leandro Inacio lost his last five big blinds or so in a preflop all-in, blind-vs.-blind situation versus Maximiliano Gallardo. The Brazilian Inacio earned R$23,690 for his 29th-place finish.

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Leandro Inacio

We keep eyeing last year’s LAPT7 Brazil Main Event winner Caio Hey who has been mostly folding his way through the first hour-plus today in an effort to preserve his short stack and keep his seat.

Just now it folded around to Anthony McShane sitting to Hey’s left who opened with an all-in push from the small blind, causing Hey to grin and make a short speech before checking his cards. They were not enough for him — he showed the [7s], then mucked — and Hey is still with us with 28 players left.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Finding a final table; Day 3 of the Grand Final awaits

LAPT8 Brazil: Finding a final table; Day 3 of the Grand Final awaits

Just 32 remain from the big 426-entry field that began the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final Main Event.

That means just four of the 151 available tables in the Golden Hall at the World Trade Center São Paulo complex will be needed for the tournament today — a good thing, as the Brazilian Series of Poker Main Event and several other side tourneys will be doing a great job filling the rest of those tables in what promises to be another busy day of poker in Brazil.

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The Golden Hall

But most of the attention — especially as today wears on — will be on the four, then three, then two, and finally one table being used for the LAPT Grand Final. The 32 players will become just eight today, with a champion finally emerging from tomorrow’s final table.

A late rush near 3 a.m. last night helped Brazil’s own Alisson Piekazewicz grab the chip lead to start play today. He’ll have 722,000 to start today.

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Alisson Piekazewicz

Piekazewicz has a few BSOP cashes to his credit but this marks his first time in the money in an LAPT event. He’s already locked up what will be a career-high score for himself, and he’s hoping like everyone else left to make that cash as big as possible.

Right on Piekazewicz’s heels — not even a big blind behind — is one of three former LAPT Main Event champions still left in the field, Chile’s Patricio Rojas who won LAPT6 Peru with 713,000.

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Patricio Rojas

Alex Manzano — winner here in São Paulo in the LAPT4 Brazil Main Event — will also be back today with an above average stack of 456,000. And last year’s champion, LAPT7 Brazil winner Caio Hey, will be at one of the four tables, too, hoping to spin up his 129,000 (not quite 13 big blinds to start today).

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Alex Manzano

Ariel Celestino (676,000), Felipe Difini (651,000), and Yuri Martins (642,000) round out the top five, with BSOP veteran and 2013 WSOP Main Event 15th-place finisher Bruno Kawauti also above the average.

Making the final eight means a guaranteed prize of R$85,730, while a huge payday of R$727,620 is scheduled to go to the winner.

Play starts at 3 p.m., and as always we’ll be on hand until these last four tables become one and tomorrow’s final table is set.

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Today’s destination

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Alisson Piekazewicz leads final 32 to end Grand Final Day 2

LAPT8 Brazil: Alisson Piekazewicz leads final 32 to end Grand Final Day 2

After all of Level 19 and just the first part of Level 20, the Day 2 field in the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final at São Paulo was cut down to 32 players and play was halted for the night. At the conclusion of play Brazil’s Alisson Piekazewicz had nudged ahead of everyone to claim the overnight chip lead, bagging a hefty 722,000.

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Alisson Piekazewicz

The day began with sunny skies and 202 players still with their eyes on the prize of winning the final LAPT Main Event title of Season 8. And speaking of prizes, the prize pool is getting divided by the top 63 finishers, with a handsome R$727,620 sitting up top for the winner.

Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari started the day with one of the shortest stacks left, and early on his ace-king fell to an opponent’s ace-queen to make his day a short one.

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Akkari busted before having to contend with Oscar Alache and Brian Rast to his left

Akkari hopped over into the Brazilian Series of Poker Main Event, however, as did more than 850 others. Brian Rast and Jeff Gross — who like Akkari busted the Grand Final this afternoon — were also part of that huge first starting flight, which promises to grow ever larger over the next two Day 1s.

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Jeff Gross

Play continued, with an interesting hand early on showing why a thumbs up gesture — usually pretty easy to understand in most contexts — can be something decidely less clear at the poker table.

The field was whittled further down, and as it approached 100 players Maximiliano Gallardo grabbed the chip lead for a time, adding considerably to his enjoyment. Then post-dinner break it was Ariel Celestino seizing the top spot as the money bubble neared.

Brazil’s Pablo Reis was the unfortunate 64th-place finisher, with Team PokerStars Pro Online’s Caio Pessagno barely outlasting him to min-cash.

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Team PokerStars Pro Online Caio Pessagno

Amos Ben went out a short while later in 48th, then a little later start-of-day chip leader Armando Sbrissa went out in 41st when his ace-ten failed to top Bruno Kawauti’s pair of queens.

Meanwhile Patricio Rojas, winner of LAPT6 Peru, rose in the counts to end less than a big blind behind Piekazewicz with 713,000.

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Patricio Rojas

The final 32 will return at 3 p.m. on Saturday to pick things up again, with the plan tomorrow being to play down to the eight-handed final table. Join us again then as we get another step closer to learning who will be the next LAPT Main Event champion.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Caio says tchau, Ben busts, Henrique hits half-million

LAPT8 Brazil: Caio says tchau, Ben busts, Henrique hits half-million

Eighteen one-hour levels are in the books in the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final Main Event in São Paulo. Since the bubble burst an hour-and-a-half ago, 20 more players have cashed the event to leave 43 to continue their pursuit of the last Main Event title of LAPT Season 8.

Not long after surviving the bubble bursting, Caio Pessagno saw his Grand Final run come to an end in a hand versus Maximiliano Gallardo.

Pessagno and Gallardo pushed back and forth through the flop, turn, and river as the board came [6c][Ah][3h][Qc][Jd]. That river jack prompted an all-in push from Pessagno, and Gallardo came up with a call holding [Ad][9h]. Top pair of aces was more than enough against Pessagno’s bluff with a busted wheel draw — [5d][2c] — and the member of Team PokerStars Pro Online hit the rail in 58th for a min-cash of R$15,980.

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Caio Pessagno

A little later Amos Ben took pocket queens up against the ace-king of Afonso Henrique. No ace or king came among the community cards, but the [5d][5h][2s][3c][4d] board added up to a straight for Henrique, and Ben finished in 48th (R$17,300).

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Amos Ben

The collecting of Ben’s chips was but part of a larger rush for Henrique, who cruised passed everyone to be the first player to a half-million.

Players are returning from break, with the plan at present being to play two more one-hour levels.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Ruin for Ruis as the bubble bursts

LAPT8 Brazil: Ruin for Ruis as the bubble bursts

Caio Pessagno was talking rapidly, his words tumbling through a huge grin as he waved his hand toward the empty chair next to him.

His tablemates laughed and nodded in response. The jovial scene continued even after the next round of cards had been dealt before finally settling back into the familiar, balanced rhythms of play.

The bubble had just burst in the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final Main Event. And Pessagno — sitting on a stack of a little over 20 big blinds — was clearly relieved.

The misfortune of missing the money in the Latin American Poker Tour by one had missed his seat by one.

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An empty seat nearby helps Pessagno relax

As the bubble neared, Diego Ventura knocked out Bruno Politano after the Peruvian’s queen-jack drew a king-high straight to top Politano’s ace-queen. Then Ventura himself was outsed when his pocket queens were cracked after an opponent drew trip nines.

Level 17 continued to tick along, then eventually Alex Saho of São Paulo went rushing in with his short stack behind a protective shield reading [Ah][Qh], but alas he’d encountered an opponent holding [As][Kh]. The six-high board no help for Saho, he smilingly shrugged and stepped outside of the playing area.

A moment later the tournament director was announcing the start of hand-for-hand play, but even before the sentence had completed a small swell of onlookers was starting to form around a nearby table. Players, photographers, and pad-holding reporters filled in gaps all about, as the terms for another showdown had already been established.

Pablo Ruis had open-shoved his stack — one resembling the size of Pessagno’s — and had gotten a caller in fellow Brazilian Yuri Martins. Ruis tabled [Td][Th], then was forced to brood for several anxious moments after Martins showed his [Qd][Qh].

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Finally receiving the go-ahead from the TD, the dealer completed the hand…

[6d][7c][2s]… [Kc]… [Qs].

By the time word of the outcome had circulated about the remaining tables and a small roar returned in response, the place where Ruis stood was already abandoned.

Nothing but a chair remained. And an animated Pessagno, recounting the preceding hand from the perspective of a most interested bystander.

The plan now is to play on through the end of Level 20 tonight. We’ll keep tabs until then on which other players’ chairs are emptied, and the effect that will have on those who remain.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Ruin for Reis as the bubble bursts

LAPT8 Brazil: Ruin for Reis as the bubble bursts

Caio Pessagno was talking rapidly, his words tumbling through a huge grin as he waved his hand toward the empty chair next to him.

His tablemates laughed and nodded in response. The jovial scene continued even after the next round of cards had been dealt before finally settling back into the familiar, balanced rhythms of play.

The bubble had just burst in the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final Main Event. And Pessagno — sitting on a stack of a little over 20 big blinds — was clearly relieved.

The misfortune of missing the money in the Latin American Poker Tour by one had missed his seat by one.

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An empty seat nearby helps Pessagno relax

As the bubble neared, Diego Ventura knocked out Bruno Politano after the Peruvian’s queen-jack drew a king-high straight to top Politano’s ace-queen. Then Ventura himself was ousted when his pocket queens were cracked after an opponent drew trip nines.

Level 17 continued to tick along, then eventually Alex Saho of São Paulo went rushing in with his short stack behind a protective shield reading [Ah][Qh], but alas he’d encountered an opponent armed with [As][Kh]. The six-high board no help for Saho, he smilingly shrugged and stepped outside of the playing area.

A moment later the tournament director was announcing the start of hand-for-hand play, but even before the sentence had completed a small swell of onlookers was starting to form around a nearby table. Players, photographers, and pad-holding reporters filled in gaps all about, as the terms for another showdown had already been established.

Pablo Reis had open-shoved his stack — one resembling the size of Pessagno’s — and had gotten a caller in fellow Brazilian Yuri Martins. Reis tabled [Td][Th], then was forced to brood for several anxious moments after Martins showed his [Qd][Qh].

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Pablo Reis

Finally receiving the go-ahead from the TD, the dealer completed the hand…

[6d][7c][2s]… [Kc]… [Qs].

By the time word of the outcome had circulated about the remaining tables and a small roar returned in response, the place where Reis stood was already abandoned.

Nothing but a chair remained. And an animated Pessagno, recounting the preceding hand from the perspective of a most interested bystander.

The plan now is to play on through the end of Level 20 tonight. We’ll keep tabs until then on which other players’ chairs are emptied, and the effect that will have on those who remain.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Ariel Celestino’s star is rising

LAPT8 Brazil: Ariel Celestino’s star is rising

The field gradually continues to shrink in the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final Main Event in São Paulo, Brazil. There were 109 players who returned from the dinner break not too long ago, and now as they cross into Level 16 just 84 remain gathered around 11 tables.

They’re leaving empty tables along the side, meaning the ones left are those nearest the feature table up in the front of the Golden Hall — appropriate as that will be the ultimate destination for the final eight players who make it to Sunday’s finale.

Maximiliano Gallardo has continued to maintain his big stack since we last checked in, increasing his count up toward the 350,000-chip range. But he’s been passed on the leaderboard by the Brazilian Ariel “Bahia” Celestino who looks to be the first player in the field to have cracked the 400,000 mark.

Currently one of the top 100 ranked tournament players in the world according to the Global Poker Index — and the highest-ranked Brazilian (at No. 90) — Celestino has a lengthy history of success on the LAPT. That said, despite collecting many cashes in the BSOP, the EPT, the WSOP, and elsewhere this year, he hasn’t recorded on here on the LAPT during Season 8.

With the money bubble starting to near — they are about 20 spots off of it bursting now — Celestino looks in fine shape to rectify that situation shortly. His highest previous LAPT Main Event finish was 11th at LAPT2 Chile, and Celestino also won a BSOP Main Event right here at the WTC São Paulo in 2012.

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Ariel Celestino

Other big stacks at the moment include a couple of LAPT Main Event winners. Alex Manzano won the LAPT4 Brazil Main Event here in São Paulo, and right now the Chilean is looking healthy with a stack of 300,000. And his fellow countryman Patricio Rojas, winner of LAPT6 Peru, is also comfortably above the average with about 200,000.

Meanwhile two-time LAPT Main Event champion Oscar Alache has been eliminated, ending his chance here to add to his LAPT Season 8 Player of the Year lead.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Games people play

LAPT8 Brazil: Games people play

Afternoon is turning to evening in São Paulo. Day 2 the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final Main Event has now pushed through its first four one-hour levels and with 109 players remaining the Argentinian Maximiliano Gallardo has increased his stack up close to the 300,000-chip mark, the likely leader at present.

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Maximiliano Gallardo

Bustouts of note over the last couple of levels include Gallardo’s fellow countryman, Mario Lopez, whose quest for a record third LAPT Main Event title (and second straight) has come to an early end.

Brian Rast also has been ousted from the event, having lost the last of his chips after being on the wrong side of a queens-versus-kings encounter.

Rast is back in action already, though, joining the throng playing the first of three Day 1 flights over in the R$3,000 Brazilian Series of Poker Millions Main Event today. Around 800 are in action in that one at present, with the remaining two starting flights this weekend expected to create another enormous BSOP field.

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Brian Rast

Elsewhere in and around the Golden Hall there has been plenty of other activity on the side, including another of the workshops in the #PokerStarsExperience series that have been held every day we’ve been here so far.

After yesterday’s meeting discussing Professor Cristiano Torrezan’s highly interesting university course in “Poker Basics,” today the topic was “Passion for Games.” The panel included Pablo Myazawa, former editor-in-chief of Rolling Stone Brasil and founder of the Imagine Games Network (IGN), Ari Aguiar of ESPN Brasil, Leonardo Bueno of the QC Akkari Team, and professional gamer Cleber “Fuzi” Fonseca.

The discussion ranged over several topics, including the important place of games in Brazilian culture (and elsewhere) as well as the relationship between poker and eSports.

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Sharing a “paixão pro jogs”

Also earlier today in the front part of the hall Friend of PokerStars Felipe “Mojave” Ramos was a friend to a group of women bloggers aiming to take part in the BSOP Millions Ladies Event that kicks off next Monday.

The group included experts in food, fashion, and a number of other topics, but none had previous experience with poker. Ramos caught them up on basics of game play and a few central strategy ideas to help them compete in the event.

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Readying for the Ladies Event

Players are back in their seats, playing their favorite game once again. A dinner break will follow Level 16.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: The thumbs up signal doesn’t always mean what you think

LAPT8 Brazil: The thumbs up signal doesn’t always mean what you think

It was clear something had gone wrong. You didn’t have to speak Portuguese to understand the usual order of things had been upset somehow.

The first level of Day 2 of the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final in São Paulo was nearing its end, with 190 players still vying for the title one hand at a time.

A crowd had gathered around one of the tables along the front edge of the tournament area.

Voices were loud. Cases were being made. And a ruling was finally being delivered.

At a glance it was easy to see the cause for consternation. The board read [4s][6h][As][Ah][Qh], one player had [Jc][9d], and the other [Ad][2c].

But the pot was going to the one with jack-nine. That clearly was off.

And the one with ace-deuce, he kept holding his hand forward making the “thumbs up” gesture. Something didn’t translate. Usually the gesture served as a kind of language-transcending signal of agreement, a positive review, that everything was absolutely ay-okay.

But no, that wasn’t the case here. Not at all.

Finally the facts of the case became clear. With the thumbs-up gesture, the Brazilian André Eskinazi wasn’t saying he agreed with the ruling against him. Rather he was reenacting the moment that led to him losing with the best hand.

Facing a big bet on the river from his fellow countryman Thyago Amador, Eskinazi had given the thumbs up signal while turning over his ace-deuce. Unfortunately for him, without a verbal declaration of a call, the action was ambigous, and was here considered a fold.

The back-and-forthing continued, but in the end Eskinazi grudgingly had to accept the loss of his chips as the pot was sent Amador’s way.

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Thumbs up = chips down for Eskinazi

About 190 remain as Level 12 begins. Stay tuned — prize pool and payout information is on the way.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Sunny skies, eyes on the prize for Grand Final Day 2

LAPT8 Brazil: Sunny skies, eyes on the prize for Grand Final Day 2

We’re approaching mid-afternoon once again here in São Paulo, where the skies have been much less cloudy than usual with patches of blue peeking through all about. The question of who will be the next Latin American Poker Tour Main Event champion has begun to clear up a little as well, although there’s still a lot to happen before the spotlight shines down on a winner.

With a big Day 1B turnout on Thursday, the R$10,000 event drew a total of 426 entries, and there are still 202 players remaining from that group with hopes of continuing forward to the weekend and Sunday’s final table.

Best positioned at the moment is Armando Sbrissa who’ll be returning to the biggest stack of anyone with 217,200 to start Day 2. He’s trying to match the achievement of his brother, Victor, who won this very event two years ago at LAPT6 Brazil.

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Armando Sbrissa

Felipe Difini (203,800) and Alban Juen (201,200) are next in the leaderboard line, with Leo Henrique Liberal (194,400) and Bruno Nunes (185,400) rounding out the top five.

Also coming back to above average stacks are Ariel Celestino (126,400), Amos Ben (123,700), two-time LAPT champion Mario Lopez (116,000), last year’s LAPT Brazil Main Event winner Caio Hey (103,400), and two more two-time champs, Nacho Barbero (101,600) and Oscar Alache (99,000).

Diego Ventura, Brian Rast, Jeff Gross, Marco Zevola, Alex Manzano, Helio Neves, Bruno Politano, Bruno Kawauti, and Sebastien Sabic are just some of the many familiar names also in the start-of-Day-2 counts, with Team PokerStars Pro Online’s Jorge Limon and Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari still in the mix as well.

Meanwhile the 32-event Brazilian Series of Poker Millions is heating up as well, with more preliminaries in action today to fill the 151 tables in the spacious Golden Hall here in the World Trade Center São Paulo complex.

Yesterday was a record-breaker for the BSOP and for poker in the region generally speaking, with an incredible 3,866 entries in the first event, a R$460 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournament. That’s the biggest field ever (by far) for a tournament in Latin America.

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Inside the Golden Hall

The schedule currently calls for them to play all of the way down to 32 players today. An announcement was just made signaling the start time has been pushed back a bit to 3:30 p.m. — that’s 12:30 p.m. ET and 6:30 CET. Stick close and follow along through the sunset and into the evening and we’ll see which stars are left shining at the end of play tonight.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Leo Henrique Liberal bags big stack to conclude Day 1B Grand Final

LAPT8 Brazil: Leo Henrique Liberal bags big stack to conclude Day 1B Grand Final

A wild, fun Day 1B has come to a close at the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final in São Paulo, Brazil, and while there were a number of big stacks jockeying back and forth as the final hands of the night were dealt, it appears Leo Henrique Liberal of Brazil managed to bag up the most of the day with 194,400.

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Leo Henrique Liberal

By the time late registration finally closed the unofficial total of Day 1B entries was 294, which put with the 132 from yesterday adds up to 426 altogether, a number we’ll confirm once and for all tomorrow along with prize pool and payout information.

Today’s 140 or so survivors will unite with the 62 from yesterday, meaning there are still roughly 200 competitors left vying for the last LAPT Main Event trophy of Season 8.

The day began with a nod to the Thanksgiving holiday as we offered an “obrigado” to those of you following our coverage. Then as players began gathering during the early levels, a workshop highlighting local professor Cristiano Torezzan’s university course in “Poker Basics” gave us a chance to consider how poker strategy can often apply in non-poker contexts.

It soon became apparent that not only was the Day 1B field for the Grand Final growing even grander, the rest of the massive Golden Hall here in the World Trade Center São Paulo complex was being filled to near capacity as the BSOP Millions kickoff event ultimately drew a staggering 3,850-plus entries — an all-time high for any tournament in Latin America.

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The thousands in the Millions (click to enlarge)

Turning back to the marquee event, two-time WSOP bracelet winner and earner of over $16 million in lifetime cashes Brian Rast had chosen the Grand Final for his first ever LAPT event, and he took the time to share some thoughts with us about Brazil, a home-away-from-home of sorts over recent years for the poker pro after having met his wife and gotten married here.

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Brian Rast

As the dinner hour approached, the field size increased further, pushing the total number of entries well past 400. Patricio Rojas and Jerson Backmann then pushed ahead themselves as apparent chip leaders, only to be overtaken soon thereafter as play moved past midnight.

Among those battling with below average stacks during the night’s last levels was two-time LAPT champion Mario Lopez, whose super last couple of years we took a moment to notice before play wrapped up for the night.

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Super Mario

Luis Gustavo Gutti also proudly bagged a big stack of 181,700 tonight.

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Luis Gustavo Gutti

And Bruno Nunes appeared to have had the chip lead for a short while before ending Day 1B with 175,400.

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Bruno Nunes

Others making it through to tomorrow’s Day 2 included Brian Rast, Jeff Gross, Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari, Oscar Alache, Nicolau Villa-Lobos, and Mario Lopez. Armando Sbrissa who ended yesterday with 217,200 will remain the pace-setter to start play tomorrow.

Play cranks back up tomorrow at 3 p.m. local time with another full and fun day scheduled. Come back here then as we continue the quest to find out who will become the next LAPT Main Event champion.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Super Mario collecting all the coins

LAPT8 Brazil: Super Mario collecting all the coins

We spoke yesterday about the Latin American Poker Tour Season 8 Player of the Year race, currently led by the Chilean Oscar Alache thanks to his LAPT8 Chile Main Event title (his second overall), two more side event wins on the tour this year, plus numerous final tables.

Alache has performed well outside the LAPT, too, this year, racking up cashes on the EPT, at the WSOP, the APT, and elsewhere. When it comes to stars of the tour making a big splash elsewhere, Argentina’s Ivan Luca is also worthy of consideration after having consistently racked up cashes all over Europe this year while also earning his first career WSOP bracelet.

Luca isn’t playing the Grand Final this week, but his fellow countryman Mario Lopez is, and in fact when it comes to challenging for the status of “breakout” player of the year from the LAPT, Lopez may well be the one most worthy of the designation.

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Mario has been super

The former medical doctor earned his first LAPT cash way back in Season 2, then steadily continued to accumulate scores over the next few years before winning the LAPT7 Chile Main Event in Viña del Mar in March 2014.

The cashes kept coming thereafter for Lopez, then at this summer’s World Series of Poker he nearly earned himself a gold bracelet after finishing 2nd out of a massive 4,555-entry field in the $1,111 Little One for One Drop, good for a just a touch under $400,000.

That stood as Lopez’s highest career cash for a couple of months, then he topped that by outlasting another huge field of 3,292 in the Estrellas Poker Tour Barcelona Main Event in August, good for €408,000 or just over $450K USD.

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Lopez after his ESPT Barcelona Main Event win

Mere weeks later, Lopez joined the exclusive club of two-time LAPT Main Event champions after winning at LAPT8 Uruguay in September. Then the following month he went deep again in a WSOP Europe event in Berlin, ultimately finishing second once more in the €3,250 NLHE event.

Alache is thriving at present with an above-average stack of 80,000, while Lopez is on the short side with less than 25,000.

The former doctor has found ways to cure such a malady many times before, however, surviving and thriving on one of the more memorable streaks in recent memory for an LAPT player.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Rojas rolling, Backmann building, and thousands in Millions

LAPT8 Brazil: Rojas rolling, Backmann building, and thousands in Millions

We’re starting to sort the big stacks from the small ones. And we’re starting to say Tchau! to the post-dinner bustouts here on Day 1B of the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final Main Event in São Paulo now that late registration and the reentry period is no more.

With less than 200 remaining from the huge Day 1B field, Jerson Backmann has edged up over the 110,000-chip mark to sport the biggest stack on his side of the room. And LAPT6 Peru winner Patricio Rojas has performed similarly at a neighboring table, pushing up toward 115,000 post-dinner.

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Patricio Rojas

Brian Rast has done well for himself so far today, having chipped up around 75,000. Thiago Nishijima (70,000), Team PokerStars Pro Online member Jorge “Baalim” Limon (65,000), and Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez (60,000) have also each at least doubled their starting stacks.

Bruno Politano is sitting behind a stack of about 55,000. And two-time LAPT champion Fabian Ortiz has a little under 50,000 at present.

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Fabian Ortiz

Others we’ve noticed include Tony Baggio (40,000), Nicolau Villa-Lobos (40,000), and Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari (35,000).

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Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari

Two-time LAPT champ Oscar Alache (35,000), Regis Kogler (25,000), Nicolas Fierro (25,000), and Rafael Pardo (15,000) are also continuing to battle.

We know Friend of PokerStars Felipe “Mojave” Ramos has hit the rail, and Jeff Gross has eluded us during the last couple of walkthroughs, suggesting he may have met an early end as well.

Meanwhile surrounding the Grand Final on all sides, the final two of four starting flights for the first preliminary event of the BSOP Millions have been playing out today here in the Golden Hall.

The R$460 event ultimately drew more than 3,850 entries total (!) — the biggest tournament in terms of entries ever in Latin America — adding an excited buzz all about as the festival gets going in earnest.

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Thousands in the BSOP Millions

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Reentry door about to close; total field 400-plus

LAPT8 Brazil: Reentry door about to close; total field 400-plus

We were saying at the start of today’s second and final Day 1 flight of the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final Main Event how after the 132-entry turnout yesterday, today’s field would certainly be bigger, perhaps even doubling that total.

Well, they’ve reached the dinner break, after which late registration ends and the ability to reenter will finally be taken away. According to the big board the total number of Day 1B entries is up to 289 — well over twice yesterday’s total — with a small chance that number could increase still more once players return for Level 7. That means 400-plus altogether.

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Railing the LAPT Grand Final

One of late arrivals today was the Peruvian Diego Ventura who joined the fray during Level 5 after having busted a day ago. But just before the break, Diego Ventura was felted again after his [Ac][Qc] failed to improve against an opponent’s pocket kings. We’ll see if he returns for one last try.

LAPT8 Chile champion Mario Lopez arrived late today as well, looking for a second Main Event title this year to go along with his win at the Estrellas Poker Tour Barcelona event in August. The Argentinian has struggled so far, however, and is sitting with about half the 30,000-chip starting stack.

Ale Braga is here as well, trying to cash in a third LAPT Main Event this season as well as add a fifth BSOP cash in 2015 to her poker résumé. Braga busted earlier today but has reentered, and will be trying to spin the starting stack up once more when play resumes.

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Ale Braga

Prize pool and payout information should come a little later tonight. Meanwhile we’ll see if anyone can top the 217,200-chip standard Armando Sbrissa set last night as the Day 1A leader.

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“Can you believe this huge turnout…?”

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Back in Brazil, Rast again running well

LAPT8 Brazil: Back in Brazil, Rast again running well

On the last hand before the first break of Day 1B of the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final in São Paulo, Brian Rast sat leaning forward, nearing the end of a lengthy massage. Reaching showdown he tabled his cards — two black aces, fitting neatly with the red one that had come on the flop.

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A relaxed Rast

Rast collected the pot, settled with the masseuse, and stood from the table, the first couple of levels of his first ever LAPT event having gone relatively well, all things considered.

His first visit to Brazil back in early 2010 went fairly well also. That’s was when he met his wife-to-be, and ever since the couple, though based in Las Vegas, have been back and forth to South America’s largest country on a regular basis.

“I’m usually here, I’d say, twice a year now,” Rast explains. While there has been a lot of business to take care of involving visas, getting residency, and the wedding here in Brazil, mostly the trips have been made with the primary purpose of enjoying some rest and relaxation far away from the nonstop hustle of Vegas.

“I come here every year after the Series, usually for five weeks or so, really just to hang out and see my wife’s family,” says Rast. “I love the food, I like the weather, and I really like the people. Things move a little bit slower here than in the U.S., and since I’m coming down to relax, the relaxed pace is great.”

“Plus, Rio de Janeiro is a little bit of a paradise. Wonderful beaches, great weather. If you’re a single man, the women are beautiful, and if you’re a single woman, there are a lot of good-looking men down here, too. I also find the people to be genuine and authentic — a little more like they have their heart on their sleeve. I feel like I get along with everyone and I really like it.

Brazil being such a large country, there’s still a lot of it left that Rast wants to visit.

“I’d really like to see more. We’ve spent most of our time in Rio, and in the northeast around Paraíba where my wife is from. This is my first time in São Paulo, in fact.”

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Brian at home in Brazil

The more the two-time WSOP bracelet winner talks about Brazil, the more it’s clear that the country has long represented a place where he’s more apt to take a break from poker than to seek it out.

“I’ve played very little poker down here. Really this is the most poker I’ve played already, other just a couple of times playing small games in Rio.”

Rast, of course, also enjoys the not-so-small games, and can often be found among the lists of those participating in the high rollers and super high rollers whenever they come around. Most notably, this summer he played in this year’s super duper high roller — the $500,000 buy-in Super High Roller Bowl held at the ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. From a 43-entry field Rast managed to the the last one with chips, earning an eye-popping $7,525,000 first prize.

There aren’t too many people in the world to whom we can ask the question, so we couldn’t resist — how does it feel to bink a tournament for $7.5 milly?

“I mean, it felt wonderful,” Rast grinned. “It was really nice. I had an amazing Day 2 in that tournament, where I came in pretty much with the starting stack and ended the day with a commanding lead going into the final table. I had just an amazing run, and I held onto it at the final table.”

Did winning that event exceed the thrill of earning his WSOP bracelet in the $50K Poker Players’ Championship in 2011 (his second that summer), memorably outlasting Phil Hellmuth heads-up to win?

“Right now I’d say [winning the Super High Roller Bowl is] the pinnacle of my poker career,” he estimates. “I was more excited when I won the $50K, but in retrospect I think that was a bigger deal.”

He went on to express enthusiasm about the return of the Super High Roller Bowl next year and PokerCentral’s involvement, as well as how poker can use more sponsored, rake-free events, especially when those events are televised.

“Even the WSOP, they’re making money on both sides,” Rast points out. “They’re charging players rake, then they’re making money from ESPN showing it on TV…. They’re making a TV show out of it, but they’re not paying the talent or anything.”

Soon enough Rast was settling back in his seat behind his above-average stack, resuming his first ever LAPT event. And continuing his ongoing, life-changing adventures in Brazil.

Indeed, much as he did during that Day 2 of the Super High Roller Bowl, the country is a place where for several years he’s been enjoying an amazing run.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Poker in the classroom — a course in “Poker Basics”

LAPT8 Brazil: Poker in the classroom — a course in “Poker Basics”

To play poker is to enter into situations full of unknowns — willingly. The game is like a series of puzzles that require constant attention and challenge players’ analytical abilities over and again. And if played mindfully, the game is always going to be a learning experience, even for the most seasoned players.

There’s no need to convince Cristiano Torezzan of these truths about poker. Like a handful of others at universities in several different countries, Torezzan has found a way to introduce some of poker’s many lessons into the context of higher education. The professor offers a college course in nearby Limeira called “Poker Basics,” an elective course in Sports Science that gives students a chance to appreciate the strategic complexity of poker as well as to learn its mathematical foundations and their application to everyday life.

Throughout the nine-day, 32-event Brazilian Series of Poker festival, various workshops are being held on a variety of topics, with today’s highlighting the educational benefits of poker. Torezzan, Alberoni “Bill” Castro of the Confederação Brasileira de Texas Hold’em, and Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari together formed a panel to discuss Torezzan’s course and other positives poker can produce, and the discussion was enlightening for the many in attendance.

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Akkari, Torezzan, Castro, and moderator Sergio Prado

Torezzan is a member of the faculty at the University of Campinas, a public university the main campus of which located here in São Paulo with satellites in Limeira (where he teaches) and Piracicaba. Founded in the mid-1960’s, “Unicamp” (as it’s called) has more than 1,700 faculty and serves well over 35,000 undergraduate and graduate students with a myriad of programs.

Torezzan has a post-doctorate in applied mathematics, although as he explained the course begins with few assumptions about students’ backgrounds, with the only prerequisites being “knowing how to read” and “being willing to think.”

The class starts out dispelling some myths about poker — e.g., that it is a gambling game like any other, devoid of skill. Akkari, who serves as a guest lecturer in the course, explained how he’d encountered people entirely new to poker asking whether or not dice were required to play.

From there the class covers the rules of Texas hold’em and discusses the development of the game over the years into a kind of intellectual “sport.” They then get into the math of poker (odds, probabilities, variance, risk management), strategic fundamentals (position, hand rankings, flop analysis), and advanced aspects (bankroll management, hand analysis, and “metagame”).

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The students are riveted

The workshop moved beyond discussing just the course to addressing the overall growth of poker in Brazil, including the advance in skill being demonstrated by players even in small poker clubs. There was talk as well about legislation-related battles both here and elsewhere and how the skill game aspects of poker make it increasingly worthy of promoting as a game whose benefits can go beyond merely monetary ones.

Indeed, in his class when Torezzan encourages students’ pursuit of analogies between poker and business and other non-poker situations, the far-reaching applications of “Poker Basics” becomes readily apparent.

We left even before the Q&A had ended, as the discussion continued well into a second hour, feeling as though we’d just sat in on a very interesting college class from which much was learned.

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The best class is like a game of poker… every answer leads to another question

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Obrigado! And welcome to Day 1B of the Grand Final

LAPT8 Brazil: Obrigado! And welcome to Day 1B of the Grand Final

As an American many thousand miles from home this Thanksgiving, your humble scribbler finds himself slightly disoriented today while readying for the start of Day 1B of the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final here in uncharacteristically sunny São Paulo.

The adjective “humble” is accurate, to be sure, given your itinerant reporter’s unfortunate lack of Portuguese. Indeed, “obrigado” (or “thanks”) turns out to be the highlight of a very limited vocabulary. Perhaps I’ll try to give out a few extra of those today in honor of the holiday.

Today pichana, empanadas, and brigadeiro will take the place the place of turkey, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce. And that other football, the round black-and-white one, might try to challenge the oblong-shaped brown variety, although the NFL is popular enough here there may well be a game streaming somewhere nearby.

That said, I’m glad to be enjoying time with the LAPT family, and thankful to spend another day in the spacious and accommodating Golden Hall of the World Trade Center São Paulo enjoying a favorite card game here in Brazil and all over the globe.

Yesterday saw 132 total entries for the first of two Day 1 flights in this R$10,000 buy-in event (~$2,650 USD), with just 62 players making it through to earn a seat to start tomorrow’s Day 2.

Like a family well prepared to serve dinner to a large crowd, the Brazilian Series of Poker staff here at the WTC is more than ready to handle however many arrive to play today. In fact there were more than a thousand players in action at once yesterday between the LAPT Grand Final and the many side events, and with 151 tables they can serve that many and more today if needed.

Speaking of family, Brazil’s Armando Sbrissa ended last night as the Day 1A chip leader after amassing a stack of 217,200. That surname is well familiar to the LAPT, of course, as Armando’s brother, Victor, won this very event here in São Paulo during Season 6. (Click here for a full list of chip counts for the 62 Day 1A survivors.)

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Armando Sbrissa

Victor was among the bustouts yesterday, though like others not surviving the night we expect him to return again today, as the reentry option remains open for all up until after the dinner break tonight. There will certainly be more entries today than yesterday, perhaps even twice as many.

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It was more crowded than a Thanksgiving dinner plate yesterday

The plan today will again be to play 10 one-hour levels with that 75-minute dinner break coming after Level 6. That’ll carry us once more well into the wee hours after 3 a.m., and we’ll be here throughout, serving up various side dishes from surrounding happenings and multiple helpings from the festival’s main course.

Play starts in a few. We give thanks in advance for your following along.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Armando Sbrissa snares Day 1a lead in Grand Final

LAPT8 Brazil: Armando Sbrissa snares Day 1a lead in Grand Final

Just after the clock struck three a.m., the first day of the last Main Event of Season 8 of the Latin American Poker Tour came to a close here in São Paulo.

From a Day 1a field of 132 entrants, less than half that number remain. After picking up a big pot versus Gepo Powidzer during the night’s final level, Armando Sbrissa ended the night bagging up the most chips of any of the Day 1a participants, finishing with 217,200 to provide a goal for tomorrow’s second and final Day 1 flight of players to try to exceed.

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Armando Sbrissa

Among Armando’s past successes was his being one of the first Brazilians ever to win a Sunday Million, playing as “Zareta” on PokerStars back in 2010. He’s also the brother of Victor Sbrissa who won this very event two years ago when he became the LAPT6 Brazil Main Event champion.

There were clouds outside and crowds inside as Day 1a of the Grand Final helped kick off the start of the BSOP Millions festival.

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Hundreds today playing in the Millions

Among the former LAPT Main Event champions to take their seats early on was two-time winner Oscar Alache, who after busting once reentered no doubt with an eye toward preserving his current lead in the LAPT Season 8 Player of the Year race.

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Oscar Alache

Along with Victor Sbrissa, two-time champ Nacho Barbero, Alex Manzano, Patricio Rojas, and Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez also represented the LAPT Main Event winners club today. And Renata Teixeira of Brazil was on hand as well, fighting to improve her No. 2 position in the LAPT POY race behind Alache.

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Renata Teixeira

It was a busy day with super-sized BSOP side events running alongside the Grand Final, although they didn’t quite take up all 151 tables in the Golden Room as they surely will within the next few days. A mid-afternoon press conference supplied us with that figure, where we also learned there are more than 400 staff working the festival with 300,000 individual chips to be used throughout the 32-event series.

As play wore on the big stacks began distinguishing themselves, with Argentina’s Osvaldo Lewis among the first to triple the starting stack. Then LAPT Season 6 Player of the Year Amos Ben emerged with big chips as well as the Day 1a field shrunk to less than a hundred.

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Amos Ben

Nearby was running a celebrity tournament, the “Desafío de las estrellas” or “Challenge of the Stars,” where many of Brazil’s most famous athletes, television personalities, humorists, and a politician or two were vying for a top prize of a PokerStars Caribbean Adventure package.

As the last level of the Grand Final played out they’d gotten down to two players in the “Desafío,” with Ronaldo being one of them and Theo Lima, Sales Manager at Twitter Brazil the other. Lima will have plenty to tweet about, as he ended up taking away the top prize.

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Theo Lima and Ronaldo

That said, we know we’ll likely be seeing Ronaldo and his smile in Nassau in January as well.

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Ronaldo sharing a laugh with BSOP Media Coordinator Sergio Prado

Also ending Day 1a with a big stack was Felipe Difini of Brazil who ended with 203,800.

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Felipe Difini

Alban Juen of France likewise finished strong to bag up 201,200.

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Alban Juen

We’ll be back to start it all again tomorrow afternoon starting at 3 p.m. local time for Day 1b of the LAPT Grand Final.Come back then for continuing coverage as we find out together who will become the next LAPT Main Event champion.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: The stars are out tonight for poker’s challenge

LAPT8 Brazil: The stars are out tonight for poker’s challenge

It’s been a successful and busy day here in the Golden Hall, site of the simultaneous start of both the LAPT Grand Final and BSOP Millions.

While the Grand Final winds down toward the close of its Day 1a, the first side event of the BSOP Millions — a R$460 buy-in no-limit hold’em affair — drew more than 800 for each of two Day 1 flights, with a couple more scheduled tomorrow meaning the likelihood of a 3,000-plus entry field is high.

Meanwhile at the front of the room the celebrity tournament has dazzled onlookers for the last couple of hours. A freeroll with a PCA package awaiting the winner, the tournament is called the “Desafío de las estrellas” or “Challenge of the Stars,” and plenty of the country’s biggest stars took up the challenge.

We’ve already mentioned the presence of Brazilian footballer legend Ronaldo, the World Cup champion who was named three times as the world’s best soccer player.

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Ronaldo

Other top athletes are part of the field as well, including Rodrigo Santana — a.k.a. “Rodrigão” — winner of an Olympic gold medal in volleyball for Brazil. Two-time bronze medalist swimmer Fernando Scherer also took part, as did Maureen Maggi who won a gold medal in the long jump at the 2008 Beijing Olympics for Brazil.

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Maureen Maggi

The top-ranked tennis player in Brazil at the moment, Thomaz Bellucci, also was part of the field along with another Brazilian tennis superstar, Bruno Soares.

Stock car racer Thiago Camilo, congressman Nelo Rodolfo, and journalist Bruno Laurence played as well, as did three of Brazil’s best poker pros, Thiago Nishijima, Rodrigo Garrido, and Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari.

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Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari

They are down to a couple of tables in the “Challenge of the Stars,” with just a couple of levels left to go as well in the Grand Final as well.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Post-dinner poker for a hungry hundred

LAPT8 Brazil: Post-dinner poker for a hungry hundred

They’re back from dinner on Day 1a of the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final. Most of them, anyway. Unofficially speaking, there were 132 total entries before the reentry door closed tight on Day 1a, with just about 100 of them returning to their seats a short while ago with an idea of enjoying a dessert of four more one-hour levels before play will pause later tonight.

Of those total entries, two-time LAPT champion Oscar Alache accounted for two of them, having reentered after busting earlier, no doubt with an eye toward retaining his lead in the LAPT Season 8 Player of the Year race.

Speaking of LAPT POYs, Chile’s Amos Ben won that award back in Season 6, and ranked inside the top 10 here at the end of Season 8. He’s also ranked near or even at the top of today’s chip counts, having built up over 85,000.

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Amos Ben

Red spades left in today’s field include Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez and Jorge “Baalim” Limon, both of whom are still hovering near the 30,000-chip starting stack.

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Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez

Meanwhile there are three women left in the Day 1a, and by the luck of the draw all three are seated at the same table. Of the trio — all from Brazil — Renata Teixeira is the best off chip-wise as she’s edging up toward 50,000, while Laurie Tournier and Larissa Metrán are each battling with about half that amount.

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Larissa Metrán (left) and Renata Teixeira (right)…

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…and across from them, Laurie Tournier

There are a number of players in the same predicament as Tournier and Metrán, one of whom is Diego Ventura who is just under 20,000 at the moment.

Coming to Brazil has to bring good feelings to the player known as “Die Ventura” on PokerStars. It wasn’t that long ago the Peruvian came to Brazil as a student, and was here spending part of his time working as a waiter when he first discovered poker.

Not long after that, Ventura became a different kind of student — a student of the game — working with coaches to improve to a point where he earned more than $2 million total online including final tabling the Sunday Million multiple times. He also won himself a seat in the 2015 PCA Main Event via an online satellite, and ran that entry all of the way to a runner-up finish and a $907,080 cash.

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Diego Ventura

Ventura earned a couple more small EPT cashes this year while also final tabling a the World Series of Poker “Monster Stack” over the summer in Vegas where he finished fifth. We’ll see if he can work himself into a more prosperous position tonight, much as he managed to do in Brazil before.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Thumbs up for chip leaders, finger food for celebs

LAPT8 Brazil: Thumbs up for chip leaders, finger food for celebs

We’ve got something of a contrast developing on this side of the Golden Hall here at the WTC São Paulo, site of the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final where Day 1a continues to march along.

Preparations have been made for the celebrity tournament near the front of the room, with ropes stretched along one edge of the LAPT Grand Final to separate the Main Event players from those participating in that event.

Wait staff carrying trays full of exotic-appearing finger food and various adult beverages mill about on the other side, with early arrivers partaking as they ready themselves to sit down for what promises to be a merry few hours’ worth of likely loud, light-hearted amusement.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ropes, the mood isn’t necessarily anxious, nor is there an absence of jovial table talk. But the stakes are obviously higher and being treated as such. And the people pushing the food and drink carts nearby appear to require payment in exchange for their goods.

They’re nearing the end of Level 5 in this first of two starting flights for the Grand Final. The Argentinian Osvaldo Lewis appears to have done the best for himself through the first five levels of play today, having spun the starting stack of 30,000 up over 80,000 already.

Meanwhile Ariel Celestino (48,000), Alex Manzano (40,000), Fernando Garcia (38,000) have chipped up some, while Marco Zevola has bought back in after having lost his initial starting stack a while ago.

Joaquín Melogno was one of the latecomers today. The Uruguayan has one LAPT Main Event final table finish to his credit, having finished fourth at LAPT5 Uruguay back in 2012. He also has earned a Sunday Million win on PokerStars where he plays as “elmelogno4.”

It’s been a struggle so far today for Melogno, currently sitting right around 17,000.

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Joaquín Melogno

Former LAPT Main Event champs Patricio Rojas and Victor Sbrissa have encountered similar difficulty, with both currently hovering just over the 10,000-chip mark. Two-time LAPT Main Event champion Nacho Barbero is also battling uphill, having slipped to about 10,000.

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Nacho Barbero

Dinner will arrive for those on our side of the ropes at the conclusion of Level 6. Maybe then we can sneak over to the other side and try to find a friendly member of the wait staff willing to share something from his or her tray. Or at least a slow-moving one.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Grand Final part of another BSOP big show

LAPT8 Brazil: Grand Final part of another BSOP big show

We’ve been talking about how today’s first Day 1 flight of the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final is also helping kickoff of the culminating stop of this year’s Brazilian Series of Poker. Once again the BSOP has spent a year traveling all over South America’s largest country, going to Balneário Camboriú, to Rio Quente, to Natal, to Brasília, and now for a third time to São Paulo.

This final BSOP stop is designated the BSOP Millions, so named for the millions in Brazilian reais due to be won during the 32 scheduled events. There also seem to be millions of things to think about when organizing such a huge festival, a topic taken up in this afternoon’s midday press conference just outside the Golden Hall.

Those behind the table included several BSOP officials, Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari, Friend of Team PokerStars Felipe “Mojave” Ramos, and Team PokerStars SportStar and Brazilian footballer legend Ronaldo Nazário.

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Breaking down the BSOP big show

As was explained, there are 151 tables available for use in the Golden Hall, and they’re going to need them all, for sure, as some days will see as many as eight different tournaments in action.

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The “before” scene, just prior to the start of play today

Thousands will be playing, and there are over 400 employees working for the BSOP to help ensure all goes smoothly. They are also well prepared with 300,000 physical chips that will be constantly passed back and forth across the sleek black felt over the next week-and-a-half.

Handling such a huge undertaking has is familiar ground, though, for the Brazilian Series of Poker, now coming to the end of its 10th season. For the BSOP, it’s SOP.

As one might have guessed at a gathering like this in São Paulo, Ronaldo was the center of attention. The SportStar sported familiar wide grin as he excitedly talked about his favorite new outlet for competition.

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Ronaldo

“Poker is a passion for me now,” said Ronaldo, noting as well his recent victory in a celebrity tournament in Macau. He attributed that success to having received lots of coaching from Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari (“24/7,” he says).

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“Now it might look good, but it’s really not that great of a card.”

Ronaldo’s near-term poker plans include playing in another celebrity tournament here tonight, then coming back this Sunday to host a “home game.” Looking down the road a bit the word is he’ll be returning to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January where he managed to weave his way to a 26th-place finish in the 2015 PCA Main Event.

Interestingly, while Ronaldo was interested in talking poker, a lot of the questions from the press were about soccer.

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“So what’s going to happen in Rio next year…?”

Ronaldo shared his thoughts regarding the current Brazilian football team, and also drew some analogies between well-played cards and well-placed kicks.

Heading back over to the Grand Final, we find more players have taken their seats so far on Day 1a. A few players have lost their seats, too.

On an ace-high flop, Marco Zevola unfortunately ran his [Ac][Ks] into Yuri Kerzhapkin’s [Ad][As] to make an early exit. And Nicolas Fierro also hit the rail after going to battle with pocket jacks against Felipe Difini — unfortunately for “PKaiser,” the latter was holding pocket kings.

More than 100 have registered to this point on Day 1a, with late registration remaining open through the start of Level 7.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: Players making their points at season’s last stop

LAPT8 Brazil: Players making their points at season’s last stop

Every poker hand is like an argument. Players make a case for their hands via their bets. Sometimes they force opponents to concede by folding. Other times they make their points heard by showing down better cards.

That’s one way poker hands are not like arguments — in a poker, the winners and losers are usually pretty clear.

Many of those here for this week’s LAPT Grand Final are looking to make another variety of points, too — Season 8 Player of the Year points.

They’ve pushed through the first couple of one-hour levels of Day 1a of the LAPT Grand Final in São Paulo, carrying players to the first break of the day. About a dozen tables are in action so far, with late registration extending all of the way through the end of the dinner break and start of Level 7.

Lots of familiar folks sitting around those dozen tables, among them Nicolas Fierro, Ricardo Chauriye, Damian Salas, Osvaldo Lewis, and Fernando “Grow” Garcia. Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez also took a seat at the end of the second level, with his teammate Andre Akkari expected to play tomorrow.

The Brazilian Victor Sbrissa is here as well, looking to earn a second LAPT Main Event title in São Paulo after having won this event two years ago at LAPT6 Brazil.

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Victor Sbrissa

The action has been characteristically slow to start, although Helio Neves — final tablist at LAPT8 Peru where he finished sixth — became one of the first to re-enter the R$10,000 buy-in event after busting his stack halfway through Level 2.

We mentioned before how both Oscar Alache and Renata Teixeira are both here — currently positioned first and second, respectively in the LAPT Season 8 Player of the Year race. Indeed, many of those vying for that honor will be looking to gather points during this last stop of the season.

Alache built his POY lead riding a rush of strong performances that has stretched back into the previous year. In Viña del Mar, Alache won a PLO side event, then won the LAPT8 Chile Main Event — his second LAPT Main Event title in six months after having won the Grand Final in Peru to conclude LAPT Season 7.

He won another side event at LAPT8 Panama, then final tabled high rollers at both LAPT8 Peru and LAPT8 Uruguay. Meanwhile Alache collected cashes this year in France on the EPT, in Las Vegas at the WSOP, and just a few weeks ago on the Asian Poker Tour in the Sihanoukville province of Cambodia.

Meanwhile Renata Teixeira has five cashes on the LAPT this season, three of them final tables and the other two ninth-place finishes. We mentioned before her runner-up to Alache in the LAPT8 Chile Main Event where in fact she enjoyed the chip lead with four left when a final table deal was struck, netting her a $113,460 score. She’s picked up a half-dozen more Brazilian Series of Poker cashes in 2015 on top of that.

Patricio Rojas of Chile is currently in third position in the Season 8 LAPT POY rankings, and he, too, has taken a seat at the start of today’s LAPT Grand Final Day 1a.

Rojas’s first career LAPT cash was a good one — he won LAPT6 Peru back in the summer of 2013 — and since then he’s been getting closer and closer to nabbing a second career Main Event title. This year alone the Chilean has cashed in three of the five LAPT Main Events, finishing 38th (LAPT8 Chile), ninth (LAPT8 Peru), and sixth (LAPT8 Uruguay).

Marco Zevola is currently fourth in the rankings, and he’s also in action today. Cashes in the Bahamas, Chile, and Peru have helped the Argentinian edge up the POY leaderboard.

Here’s how the top 10 looked prior to the start of the festival:

1. Oscar Alache (Chile) — 958.60
2. Renata Teixeira (Brazil) — 764.13
3. Patricio Rojas (Chile) — 647.38
4. Marco Zevola (Argentina) — 617.08
5. Chadi Moustapha (Lebanon) — 575.98
6. Mario Lopez (Argentina) — 564.63
7. Amos Ben (Chile) — 557.35
8. Andres Jeckeln (Argentina) — 546.79
9. Rodrigo Quezada (Chile) — 545.47
10. Justo Esquivel (Chile) — 529.15

We’re still looking for other POY contenders to join the group that’s gathered in the “Azul / Blue” corner of the Golden Hall for the Grand Final. Meanwhile we’ll keep watching as well to see which players start accumulating the most chips here on Day 1a, proof of sorts they’re scoring points in the hands over which they’re feuding.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: It’s poker o’clock in São Paulo! Day 1a is underway

LAPT8 Brazil: It’s poker o’clock in São Paulo! Day 1a is underway

The first hands of the last Main Event of the eighth season of the Latin American Poker Tour are being dealt here in one corner of the Golden Hall at the WTC São Paulo, the tournament clock signaling the start of what will be a multi-day journey until the next LAPT Main Event winner is found.

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It’s time to play some cards

As the clock says, just 50 have taken their seats for now, with many more expected to join them either later today or during tomorrow’s second Day 1 flight for this R$10,000 event (~$2,650 USD). Among those seated already is Brazil’s own Renata Teixeira who just missed becoming the tour’s first woman to win a title back in March at LAPT8 Chile where she finished runner-up, and who also just missed another LAPT Main Event final table in September at LAPT8 Uruguay where she finished ninth.

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Renata Teixeira

Season 8 has crowned five Main Event champions thus far, stretching back to January when the American Josh Kay topped a huge 736-entry field at the inaugural LAPT Bahamas event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure to win a massive $367,928 first prize. By the way, the LAPT will be returning to the Atlantis in January to kick off Season 9 with a $2,200 buy-in Main Event scheduled to begin at the very start of the PCA’s full schedule on January 6.

Two players collected their second career LAPT Main Event titles this season, starting with Oscar Alache of Chile who beat out 410 entries including runner-up Teixeira at LAPT8 Chile to earn his second title and $131,962.

In fact, Alache has just walked up to take a seat here to begin his quest for what would be a record third LAPT title. He’s also looking to preserve his current No. 1 ranking in the LAPT Season 8 Player of the Year race — where Teixeira is right behind him again at No. 2.

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Oscar Alache

The Argentinian Mario Lopez then later matched Alache’s feat at LAPT8 Uruguay by topping 267 to win his second Main Event trophy and a $155,730 prize. Lopez added that to a WSOP runner-up finish and a win at the Estrellas ESPT Main Event in Barcelona this year as well.

The other two LAPT Main Event winners during Season 8 have been Shakeeb Kazemipur of Canada who overcame a field of 422 to win LAPT8 Panama for $180,112, and Chile’s Claudio Gali won at LAPT8 Peru, a 366-entry event that earned the Chilean $135,876 for the win.

Even with the Grand Final’s quiet kickoff, there’s already a buzz here in the Golden Hall with the Brazil Series of Poker’s initial event — a $750K guaranteed tourney — getting going nearby.

There’s a 32-event schedule altogether for this joint LAPT/BSOP festival, stretching into the first week of December and including a variety of satellites, no-limit hold’em events with a variety of formats and buy-ins, seniors and ladies events, mixed game events and Omaha events, “Survivor” tournaments and High Rollers, and even a Courchevel tournament.

There’s a lot else happening today, too, including a celebrity tournament for which none other than Ronaldo of Team PokerStars SportStars will be among the competitors. We’ll likely look in on that event tonight, but for now we’re keeping an eye on late arrivals to the Grand Final as the clock ticks along through the early levels of Day 1a.

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Brazil: The clouds and the crowds — the Grand Final starts today!

LAPT8 Brazil: The clouds and the crowds — the Grand Final starts today!

We’re back! The Latin American Poker Tour has touched down yet again, this time landing in São Paulo, Brazil for the last stop of Season 8 — the Grand Final which promises to be grand indeed. Here’s a look at how Brazil’s largest and most populous city greeted us as we floated down through the typically cloudy skies for this week’s event:

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Looking down through the clouds

Brazil is where it all began for PokerStars‘ Latin American Poker Tour way back in 2008 with the tour’s inaugural event in Rio de Janeiro, won by the Dutchman Julien Nuijten who topped a 315-entry field.

Since then the tour has returned to Brazil five more times, with cosmopolitan São Paulo having emerged as the preferred destination of late here in South America’s largest country. São Paulo sports the nickname Terra da Garoa or the “Land of Drizzle,” and true to form it’s a typically gray day today and rain is in the forecast for the remainder of the week as well.

But that’s no matter to us as we’ll be cozy and dry inside the World Trade Center São Paulo complex all week. Situated along the city’s southern edge, the WTC has proven an amenable location for both the LAPT and the Brazilian Series of Poker over recent years. The complex includes a 25-story office tower harmoniously situated within the surrounding architecture along the packed Avenida das Nações Unidas and near the Pinheiros river. Along with the tower there’s the Sheraton São Paulo Hotel, a convention center, numerous stores and restaurants, and lots else to occupy guests.

As the name suggests, WTC São Paulo is part of the global organization that supports international trade with locations in nearly 300 cities in more than 80 different countries. It’s a suitable location for the culmination of the LAPT’s eighth season. After all, the tour itself similarly provides a means for people from all over the world to come together and engage in a different kind of trade, setting prices with their bets and raises while trying to negotiate their way to a final table and LAPT title.

The action returns to the spacious Golden Hall this week, a huge space with something like 150 tables ready to handle not only the LAPT Grand Final — a R$10,000 buy-in event (equal to about $2,650 USD) — but the 30-plus other events comprising the BSOP São Paulo schedule as well. The BSOP is simultaneously finishing out its season here as well, its 10th.

Here’s how things appeared at a recent visit to the WTC São Paulo when the Golden Hall was filled to capacity with poker players from around the world. It’s a scene we expect to see reenacted very soon, and one that kind of uncannily resembles the crowded look of the city itself:

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Looking down at the crowd

Today the first of two Day 1 flights for the LAPT Grand Final will be kicking off at 3 p.m. local time (three hours ahead of ET, three hours behind CET). The plan is to play 10 one-hour levels with a 75-minute dinner break along the way, which means action will continue through 3 a.m. or so before play concludes. Registration will remain open until the start of Level 7 (after dinner), with the option to re-enter also available to anyone busting before then.

Meanwhile there are a handful of other BSOP events happening today, plus other diversions including a celebrity event and a tournament for non-poker media. While LAPT Grand Final will be our primary focus over the next five days until a champion is found on Sunday, we’ll be sure to check in on other goings-on as well.

Stick close as we say Tchau! for now to the clouds and prepare to say Olá! to the crowds soon to arrive for a week’s worth of poker in São Paulo!

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Uruguay: Mario Lopez wins second LAPT Main Event title

LAPT8 Uruguay: Mario Lopez wins second LAPT Main Event title

Our final two players technically made it to the dinner break.

With about a minute left in the level, Hilario Quijada raised to 300,000 and Mario Lopez three-bet to 600,000.

The tournament clock ticked into the dinner break and Quijada moved all-in. Lopez quickly called and showed [jc][js] to Quijada’s [6c][6d].

Quijada exploded in celebration after the [5h][2d][6s] flop gave him a set of sixes but, as the old saying goes, you should never celebrate your sets before the river.

The [4h] on the turn kept the celebration in Quijada’s camp going, but then a [jd] came on the river to flip things around.

Quijada fell silent while Lopez screamed and jumped in the air.

He had just won another LAPT.

Quijada won $103,580 for his runner-up finish while Lopez took his second LAPT trophy and $155,730.

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LAPT8 Uruguay champion, Mario Lopez

“I’ve been playing poker for a while but I’ve really been trying to win some big tournaments recently,” Lopez said. “I got a few this year.”

In fact, Lopez won one of the biggest.

Just last month, Lopez won the largest-ever Estrellas Poker Tour Main Event in Barcelona for $451,107. And a few months before that, Lopez finished 2nd in the $1,111 Little One for One Drop at the WSOP for $399,455.

“I’ve been very concentrated and I’ve been running well and playing well,” Lopez said. “I’m on a good streak and I hope it doesn’t end.”

Lopez has been on a good run for a while. Last year, Lopez won LAPT7 Chile and he’s now the fourth player to win two LAPT titles.

This won’t be the last we’ll see of Lopez either.

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“I just want to keep playing poker and have fun at big tournaments,” Lopez said.

Lopez certainly had fun this tournament.

The champion picked up the chip lead in Day 2 and held on to it for most of Day 3. Then, towards the end of the short day, LAPT8 Peru runner-up, Chadi Moustapha, took it over.

Moustapha started the final table with the chip lead but would eventually fall in 4th.

While we had two short stacks to start the day, Ruben Barros was the first to fall.

Barros had pocket aces but Quijada cracked them with pocket nines when he hit a set on the flop.

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Ruben Barros – 8th place

Soon after that, our start-of-day short stack, Jorge Alberto Cantos, followed him out.

Moustapha was on the small blind and bet enough to put Cantos all-in. Much to Moustapha’s surprise, Cantos called with 10-8 offsuit.

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Jorge Alberto Cantos – 7th place

Then Patricio Rojas was left with just a pair of big blinds after his ace-king ran into Ariel Eghi’s pocket aces. Rojas, a former LAPT champion, fell in 6th following hand.

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Patricio Rojas – 6th place

Despite doubling up against Rojas, Eghi didn’t last much longer. After players came back from break, Eghi ran his ace-jack into Quijada’s pocket queens and was eliminated in 5th place.

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Ariel Eghi – 5th place

There was a slight slowdown when we got to four players, but then Moustapha ran his pocket sixes into Quijada’s pocket jacks to finish 4th.

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Chadi Moustapha – 4th place

Three-handed play went by much quicker and it was Quijada, again, who dealt the elimination.

German Christiansen moved all-in with pocket sevens and Quijada called with pocket kings.

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German Christiansen – 3rd place

Despite Quijada’s numerous eliminations, Lopez was the one who started the heads-up match with the lead.

Quijada took the lead over momentarily but Lopez quickly recovered and dealt the final blow just as players were scheduled to take a 75-minute dinner break.

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Hilario Quijada – 2nd place

LAPT8 Uruguay Main Event final table results
Entries: 267
Prize pool: $776,970
Places paid: 39
1. Mario Lopez (Argentina) — $155,730
2. Hilario Quijada (Argentina) — $103,580
3. German Christiansen (Argentina) — $75,760
4. Chadi Moustapha (Lebanon) — $61,140
5. Ariel Eghi (Argentina) — $47,940
6. Patricio Rojas (Chile) — $36,280
7. Jorge Alberto Cantos (Argentina) — $26,660
8. Ruben Barros (Argentina) — $19,580

That’s it for LAPT8 Uruguay, thanks for joining us. If you’re still want some LAPT action, there’s one stop left.

Join us November 25-29 as we finish the season off with the LAPT8 Grand Final in São Paulo.

While you wait, you can check out our coverage from Day 3, Day 2, Day 1b and Day 1a.

Photography from LAPT8 Uruguay by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish and in Portuguese.

Alexander Villegas is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Uruguay: The imitation game

LAPT8 Uruguay: The imitation game

The day started with a lot more barking than we’re used to.

As players were getting settled into their seats, a Great Dane bolted into the tournament area. The large creature rocketed towards the snack bar area, barked and ran a few circles around a table.

Then the Great Dane hugged his friends.

While several people were amused, no one was really taken aback; this site has become fairly common wherever Igor Marani is present.

The dog doesn’t belong to Marani, Marani is the dog.

For the past few years, Marani has been attending poker tournaments across the world dressed in a full-body Scooby-Doo outfit.

Marani is occasionally sober, but he’s always cheerful and ready to celebrate at the drop of a river card.

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Igor Marani

Marani’s Scooby-Doo first popped into the scene in Las Vegas, during last year’s World Series of Poker. Marani cheered proudly and loudly as his fellow Brazilian Bruno Politano made his way towards the November Nine.

Marani does a spot-on impersonation of Scooby-Doo –well, the Portuguese version– and decided to buy the costume in Vegas on a whim.

Marani planned on using the costume to lounge around his house or go to parties, but when Politano started making it deep in the Main Event, he decided to put it on and join the rail.

Come November, Marani was back in Vegas in full costume.

We’re not sure if Marani’s taken it off since.

While Marani’s been doing his best to impersonate Scooby-Doo, there’s a Brazilian player in the field others have tried to imitate.

Renata Teixeira and her purple hair sparked a number of imitators when she made it deep in LAPT8 Chile.

Somehow, her rail found a place in Viña del Mar that had a large supply of purple wigs and bought enough for all her supporters.

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Renata Teixeira and her supporters in Chile

Those too far away to join the rail posted pictures of themselves with purple wigs on social media to show their support.

If Teixeira makes it deep again, we’re sure we’ll see the number of purple-haired people quickly multiply.

Teixeira started the day a bit short but has chipped up to about 45,000.

In one hand, Matias Gabrenja raised to 2,500 from early position and Teixeira called from the button. The big blind called as well and all three players checked when the flop came [kh][Ad][7s].

Action checked to Teixeira when the [Qs] came on the turn and she bet 5,000. Gabrenja folded and the big blind called.

The [8c] completed the board and both players checked.

The big blind turned over [kc][js] but Teixeira took down the pot and chipped up to about 45,000 when she showed [kd][qd].

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Renata Teixeira

Photography from LAPT8 Uruguay by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish and in Portuguese.

Alexander Villegas is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Uruguay: Mobile distractions

LAPT8 Uruguay: Mobile distractions

There’s a lot of commotion in the tournament area.

Every now and then, players rush over to one table and there’s audible jumble of cheers, groans and sighs.

It’s similar to the tournament frenzy during the money bubble but we’re still on Day 1a and late registration hasn’t even closed.

No, this is something different.

Players aren’t flocking to the expectation of money, they’re flocking to the expectation of goals.

Boca Juniors is currently playing against Argentinos Juniors in the 2015 Argentine Primera División and one table has a pair of iPads set up so everyone at the table can see the game.

Those familiar with Argentinian need no further explanation for the commotion, but for everyone else, here’s a small primer.

Boca Juniors is Argentina’s most successful soccer team and is currently leading the Argentine Primera División with 52 points.

Boca’s success has obviously garnered the team a lot of fans, several of whom seem to be playing in the field today.

But not every Argentinian is loyal to Boca.

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Nacho Barbero watching the game on his personal iPad

The team’s main rival, River Plate, is currently 5th in the standings with 41 points.

There are several River Plate fans in the field too, and they were the ones groaning when Boca scored.

They want Boca to lose. They always want Boca to lose, but today they really want them to lose.

With five games left in the season, both teams are fighting for one of the top two spots. The top two teams at the end of the season will gain entry to the 2016 Copa Libertadores, the most prestigious club soccer tournament in Latin America.

While many of the Argentinians in the field are giving this game a little more priority over poker for the moment, other players are only distracting themselves with more poker.

The WCOOP –or what several people within a one-foot radius of my computer call the Copa Libertadores of online poker– is currently underway and a few players aren’t letting one form of poker interfere with the other.

Back in the prehistoric days before 2012, players had to bring their laptops to the table if they wanted to play online poker at the table.

Then, PokerStars Mobile showed up and changed the game by making it smaller.

Players were able to play on their phone and tablets, making multi-interdimensional-tabling easier than ever.

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Shakeeb Kazemipur, who plays on PokerStars as “njåguar” is supplementing his live play with some online poker today.

Kazemipur is well-acquainted with online play. The Canadian player won the Sunday Million weeks before he won his LAPT title in Panama.

While only a few players currently on Uruguayan soil have a shot at winning an LAPT/WCOOP double title this week, countless more have a shot at a WCOOP title this season.

The series will run until September 27th, so check out the WCOOP schedule for a list of the remaining events and satellites to each one.

Players are about to go on dinner break so they’ll now have time to not eat and fully dedicate themselves to soccer and online poker.

Photography from LAPT8 Uruguay by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish and in Portuguese.

Alexander Villegas is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Uruguay: Castles and jet lag

LAPT8 Uruguay: Castles and jet lag

Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari and Friend of PokerStars Felipe Ramos have both taken a seat here in Uruguay.

Both players are also far cheerier and fresh-faced than anyone should be after being in transit for the past 30 hours.

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Not many people would make a 30-hour journey to attend a tournament in time, but the Brazilian red-spade duo had a few incentives.

First, they were headed in this direction anyways. Brazil is right next door and São Paulo is just a quick two-and-a-half hour flight away.

Secondly, they had a good reason to stay where they were. The two were in a castle with supermodels and celebrities.

No, that’s not a metaphor, hyperbole, euphemism or any other literary device.

The Brazilian duo literally spent the last few days in a Spanish castle coaching a Portuguese Victoria’s Secret Model, Sara Sampaio; soon-to-be-star of Star Wars: Episode VII, John Boyega; and Brazilian soccer superstar, Neymar Jr.

They were coaching the stars for PokerStars’ “The Duel” and filming was done at the Peralada Castle in Catalan.

Warning: The following Tweets contain scenes of beautiful castles, people and poker chips that may cause envy.

Olha que incrível este lugar! Set para a filmagem de hoje. #PokerStars
What amazing place!… https://t.co/5FBkDk2YBx

— andre akkari (@aakkari) September 17, 2015

GAME ON!!! https://t.co/XEJcYoa5cB

— andre akkari (@aakkari) September 17, 2015

Começou a entender o poker e discuti-los como poucas vezes vi um amador fazer na minha carreira,… https://t.co/3UdHlW6mXI

— andre akkari (@aakkari) September 18, 2015

My boy @johnboyega fully motivated and ready to beat @sara_sampaio after a little poker coaching! May… https://t.co/hP4o7F1Dx8

— Felipe Mojave Ramos (@FelipeMojave) September 17, 2015

Tarde sensacional com pessoas espetaculares nos seus trabalhos e na vida. Me diverti muito! / Amazing… https://t.co/ZUFbRUsvkL

— Felipe Mojave Ramos (@FelipeMojave) September 17, 2015

And as a bonus, here’s John Boyega showing off his lightsaber skills with Sampaio:

It wasn’t the first time Mojave and Akkari have coached people in poker. Both players have helped Neymar with his game and both run poker training schools in Brazil.

Mojave’s program focuses more on teaching beginners the ropes while Akkari’s students tend to be more experienced and are looking to go pro.

While both players enjoy teaching, they prefer to lead by example.

For them, that means winning.

Both players have accumulated a number of victories and results, but one that’s eluded them both is an LAPT victory.

The two are looking to change that today, but if that doesn’t work out, they wouldn’t mind taking the next LAPT title in their hometown of São Paulo in November.

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Friend of PokerStars Felipe Ramos

Photography from LAPT8 Uruguay by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish and in Portuguese.

Alexander Villegas is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Uruguay: Springtime in the fall

LAPT8 Uruguay: Springtime in the fall

While Punta del Este proudly states its east-ness in its name, the city is pretty far south.

Not many people know what it’s like to live this far south since about 88 percent of the world’s population lives in the Northern Hemisphere and the only two major cities more south than Punta del Este are Melbourne and Auckland.

So, while most of the world’s summer is ending, Punta del Este is just warming up.

It’s springtime in the 34th parallel south and the weather isn’t the only thing picking up.

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Casapueblo in Punta del Este

In preparation for the yearly wave of tourists that flock to Punta del Este, the Conrad is hosting more than a poker tournament; it’s hosting a mini poker festival.

Throughout the next five days, players will have 10 different events to warm the very core of their poker hearts. Aside from the $3,300 LAPT8 Uruguay Main Event, players have a shot at a $200 Mix Max Freezeout today.

In addition to Day 1b of the Main Event, tomorrow will host a $200 PLO Freezeout at 5pm and a $600 NLHE Turbo Freezeout at 7pm.

After that, players will have a Dealer’s Choice PLO.

But the choice won’t be high or low, it’ll be four or five.

Sunday’s $200 PLO will allow players to chose between four and five card PLO every round.

If players bust out of that, they can fire as many bullets as they want in the $1,100 NLHE Re-entry event that day. There will be one flight at noon and another at 7pm.

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A coveted LAPT trophy

Then, on Sunday, players will get a shot at the $5,000 High Roller.

In the early days of the Latin American Poker Tour, the High Roller was the only side serving of poker to the main event.

But those days are gone.

As the region’s appetite for poker continues to grow, so do the number of events.

Once the summer is in full gear in late November, so will the Latin American Poker Tour.

While the still brisk Punta del Este is hosting 10 events, the Grand Final in São Paulo –held during the Brazilian Series of Poker– will have 32 different events.

While players can enjoy nine straight days of poker there, an early bustout will have the consolation prize of being able to enjoy the Brazilian summer.

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Celebratory Brazilians

Photography from LAPT8 Uruguay by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish and in Portuguese.

Alexander Villegas is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Uruguay: Country Captains

LAPT8 Uruguay: Country Captains

Oscar Alache scored his first tournament cash just two years ago but quickly rose to become Chile’s fourth highest-earning player.

Alache is just a few thousand dollars shy of breaking the $500,000 mark and is currently leading the LAPT8 Player of the Year race.

“It’s a hard race,” Alache said. “And I obviously want to win but I feel I’ve already reached a prestigious score that I’m proud of.

“But hopefully it goes well here and I can get the title in Brazil.”

Aside from the events here in LAPT8 Uruguay, players can collect POY points in the Grand Final in São Paulo in November.

While poker has been exploding in Brazil and growing quickly in Argentina, Alache said there hasn’t been much growth in Chile.

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Oscar Alache

“There aren’t as many players [in Chile] as in Brazil or Argentina,” Alache said. “I think Chileans still just associate it with casinos and not as a game of skill.”

Alache says he hopes he can help change this view.

“I don’t want really want to be a poker celebrity,” Alache said. “I just want to help people understand the game more and see that you can make it far if you try.”

As Alache said, Brazilians and Argentinians have already realized this en masse and are flocking to the game.

Several of them flocked here to Punta del Este, which is conveniently sandwiched between the two countries.

Some players from the Argentinian contingent include Jose Ignacio Barbero, who became the first player to win two LAPT titles after winning back-to-back tournaments in LAPT3 Uruguay and LAPT3 Peru.

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Jose Ignacio “Nacho” Barbero

To his left is another staple of Argentinian poker, Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez.

Fernandez has an LAPT title of his own after he won LAPT5 Panama and came close to another major victory after he finished 2nd in the 2011 PCA High Roller.

While several of Fernandez’s countrymen are in the field, his red-spade brethren have yet to take a seat this tournament.

In fact, they’re probably seated about five miles in the air somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean.

Both Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari and Friend of PokerStars Felipe Ramos are currently on their way from Barcelona and will play tomorrow.

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Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari, currently in transit

There’s no lack of Brazilians though.

Among them is Bruno Politano, who brought a sea of yellow and green to Las Vegas after he made the 2014 November Nine.

Politano was the first Brazilian player to make the November Nine but chances are good he won’t be the last.

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Bruno Politano

Photography from LAPT8 Uruguay by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish and in Portuguese.

Alexander Villegas is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Peru: Meet the final eight

LAPT8 Peru: Meet the final eight

Welcome back to today’s last day of play in the Latin American Poker Tour Peru Main Event, where just eight players will be returning from a 366-entry field, each looking to follow the footsteps of LAPT Bahamas winner Josh Key, LAPT Chile winner Oscar Alache, and LAPT Panama winner Shakeeb Kazemipur to become a Season 8 champion.

It’s a bit unusual to report that no representatives of the home country will be seated at this LAPT final table, as the last Peruvian — Jose Espinoza — was knocked out in 11th. That left four Chileans, two Brazilians, a Colombian, and one from Lebanon to duke it out today for the trophy and the $156,576 first prize awaiting the winner.

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With play starting in just a short while, let’s learn a little more about each of the final eight.

Seat 1: Carlos Moya (Chile) — 1,673,000

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Carlos Moya

A 51-year-old businessman from Chile, Claudio Moya has been a LAPT regular for some time now, with cashes dating back to Season 3. When not playing poker — a hobby he’s enjoyed for the last nine years — he likes watching others play the game on television and enjoys racing, too.

Moya knows what it is like to go relatively deep in an LAPT Main Event, in fact making it all of the way to 14th in this very tournament at LAPT7 Peru last October. The $9,880 he earned for that finish represents his biggest tourney cash, so he’s already guaranteed to exceed that today, though with the chip lead and nearly 100 big blinds with which to work, he’s well positioned to earn well over the $19,060 everyone has locked up by making the final table.

Seat 2: Ricardo Chauriye (Chile) — 320,000

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Ricardo Chauriye

Ricardo Chauriye has earned a half-dozen cashes over the last year playing in various events around his native Chile and Panama, his largest score coming at the Gran Final Campeonato Nacional de Poker EPS in Santiago where he finished fourth of 257 in the Main Event for a prize worth just over $13,000 USD, with two-time LAPT champion Oscar Alache also at that final table (taking seventh).

Seat 3: Jose Ili (Chile) — 382,000

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Jose Ili

Jose Ili has a couple of LAPT cashes to his credit, having finished 13th in a $200 “Survivor” event at LAPT5 Chile and 17th in a $500 NLHE event at LAPT7 Peru. Both of those cashes by the Chilean player were for under $2,000, however, so he’s already assured of a career-high tourney score by a large measure here today.

An engineer by trade who also enjoys playing football and tennis, Ili has been playing poker for eight years though primarily considers the game as a source of fun and entertainment, noting how he feels honored to have made it this far to compete with such talented opponents.

Seat 4: Daniel Ramirez (Colombia) — 1,503,000

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Daniel Ramirez

The 27-year-old Colombian Daniel Ramirez began Day 3 with an average stack but soon began collecting pots — and knockouts — at a fast clip, storming to the top of the counts and appearing as though he might carry the chip lead into today’s final table. As it is, Moya’s knockout of Patricio Rojas in ninth helped him sneak past the Colombian into first position, although Ramirez still sits in prime position to run deep today.

Ramirez has been playing poker for six years and considers himself both a professional player while also working as an administrator. When not at the tables he enjoys going to the movies and spending time with his wife.

Seat 5: Chadi Moustapha (Lebanon) — 900,000

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Chadi Moustapha

The end-of-Day 2 chip leader in this event, earlier this year Chadi Moustapha of Lebanon final tabled the Brazilian Series of Poker Rio Quente Main Event, eventually finishing sixth for a career-best cash worth about $18,600 USD. This marks Moustapha’s first ever LAPT.

An IT consultant currently living in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, besides poker Moustapha enjoys traveling and reading.

Seat 6: Marcus Martinez (Brazil) — 815,000

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Marcus Martinez

Marcus Martinez is a young poker player from Pernambuco, Brazil currently living and playing in Peru. This represents his first major tournament cash.

Seat 7: Cristian Aceiton Ruiz (Chile) — 826,000

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Cristian Aceiton Ruiz

There’s just one small cash on Cristian Aceiton Ruiz’s tourney résumé, earned in a side event here in Lima at LAPT3 Peru, so today marks a big finish for the Chilean. A 44-year-old businessman, he’s been playing poker for a decade, having visited previous LAPTs here in Lima as well as in Uruguay, Brazil, and Chile. He cites fellow countryman and former LAPT Player of the Year Amos Ben as his greatest influence.

Seat 8: Helio Neves (Brazil) — 827,000

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Helio Neves

Helio Neves boasts several impressive tourney scores in both his native Brazil and Chile, including a couple of victories on the BSOP in a side event in his home city of Salvador in 2010 and a high roller win in Sao Paulo in 2011, the latter worth the equivalent of about $32K USD.

The 24-year-old enters today with just a little over half the stack of leader Moya, but if yesterday is any indication, coming back isn’t a problem for the Brazilian as he started 30th of 32 before catapulting up the counts soon after the start of play. Neves has been playing poker — primarily online — for the last eight years, while also enjoying traveling and playing tennis.

Here is how the payouts are scheduled for the final eight finishers:

1st: $156,576
2nd: $99,300
3rd: $71,780
4th: $58,060
5th: $45,940
6th: $35,360
7th: $26,320
8th: $19,060

Play gets underway in just about an hour at 12 noon local time — that’s an hour behind than Eastern time, and five hours behind GMT — here at the Atlantic City casino located in the heart of the Miraflores district in Lima. We’ll be here from start to finish to bring you all the action, so stick close and together we’ll find out who will become the next LAPT Main Event champion.

Photography from LAPT8 Peru by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Peru: Chile’s Claudio Moya grabs lead at day’s end for final table

LAPT8 Peru: Chile’s Claudio Moya grabs lead at day’s end for final table

There were 32 players left from a 366-entry field to start today’s Day 3 of the Latin American Poker Tour Peru Main Event. Then we blinked, and 24 of them were gone.

In just four-and-a-half hours — essentially four one-hour levels — a final table was reached, the day punctuated by Chile’s Claudio Moya cracking one-time LAPT Peru Main Event champion Patricio Rojas’s pocket kings with the ol’ seven-five, collecting a handsome-sized pot to send Rojas out in ninth and enter tomorrow’s final table with the chip lead.

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Rojas congratulates Moya before departing in ninth

It was a hand that emblematized the “mighty have fallen” theme for the day in which the kings of the chip counts at the start all managed to be dethroned and defeated before the afternoon was through.

Rojas had begun the day in second position, nearly getting through to tomorrow if not for Moya’s big blind special. Meanwhile Andres “gmcrafter” Herrera started the day on top, but would eventually slide to fall in 15th.

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Andres Herrera

Diego Dos Santos was in third position back at noon, but he’d fall in 14th. And the amiable Norwegian, Leiv Kare Johannessen, was fourth of 32, but would be knocked out in 13th.

The day started much more reasonably, it seemed, with several of the short stacks going out early, including EPT/UKIPT London champion David Vamplew who began in 32nd after one hand was collecting 32nd-place money.

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David Vamplew

Two-time LAPT champion Fabian Ortiz was among the next wave of knockouts, finishing in 25th. Then LAPT3 Argentina winner Martin Sansour kicked off the next round of eliminations by finishing 21st.

Meanwhile it was Daniel Ramirez of Colombia collecting chips at the fastest pace early on, swiftly moving up from the middle of the pack to pass Herrera at the top of the counts.

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Daniel Ramirez

Helio Neves enjoyed an even more dramatic boost at the start, beginning the day 30th of 32 but having already moved into the top tier of the counts by the day’s first break.

Ramirez held onto the lead right until the day’s final hand when the 51-year-old businessman from Chile passed him with his knockout of Rojas.

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Carlos Moya

That sets up a somewhat historic final table for the LAPT, the first we can remember in which no player from the host country will appear as Jose Espinoza was the last Peruvian standing before finishing in 11th. Meanwhile half the seats will be occupied by Chileans, with a couple of Brazilians in the mix as well.

Here’s how the leaderboard will look when the final table begins:

1. Claudio Moya (Chile) — 1,573,000 (98 BBs)

2. Daniel Ramirez (Colombia) — 1,503,000 (94 BBs)

3. Chadi Moustapha (Lebanon) — 900,000 (56 BBs)

4. Hélio Neves (Brazil) — 827,000 (52 BBs)

5. Cristian Aceiton Ruiz (Chile) — 826,000 (52 BBs)

6. Marcus Martinez (Brazil) — 815,000 (51 BBs)

7. Jose Ili (Chile) — 382,000 (24 BBs)
8. Ricardo Chauriye (Chile) — 320,000 (20 BBs)

We’ll share more about all eight prior to play tomorrow with profiles of each, then will see if today’s short day portends a long one tomorrow or if the torrid pace will continue.

Come back mañana, and we’ll find out together.

Photography from LAPT8 Peru by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Peru: The card-and-chip carousel

LAPT8 Peru: The card-and-chip carousel

As always happens on the Latin American Poker Tour, players from all over the globe have wound their way here to take part in the LAPT Peru Main Event. They’ve come by practically every means of transportation imaginable, although most arrived via the Jorge Chávez International Airport, from which the Atlantic City casino is a quick shuttle ride away.

Such was the path taken by your humble scribbler, who this time during what turned out to be a much-longer-than-usual wait at the luggage carousel for a checked bag was idle long enough to start picturing the days to come.

Watching those bags winding around — clockwise — bore more than a few similarities with following the proceedings at a poker table.

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The cards and chips go round and round

Within the circle is constant movement. That said, most positioned around it are inactive, waiting for sufficient cause to be moved.

Then come those sudden bursts as a traveler recognizes a suitcase, or a player finds a hand worthy of thrusting chips forward, the attention of the observer necessarily drawn to the action.

A look at the player list shows many international travelers having together helped form the 366-entry field, most of whom probably also played the carousel game as a prelude to poker. Players from 33 different countries came to Miraflores for this event, coming from all over the globe to participate.

Home country Peru won the representation race here with 90 entries, about 25% of total, with Chile (59), Brazil (41), Argentina (41), Colombia (21), Uruguay (19), and Mexico (16) next in line. Then Canada interrupted the list of Latin American countries, like Mexico having been responsible for 16 entries as well.

The LAPT has sliced it up for us, giving us another circle to ponder over illustrating how the different nationalities break down (click to embiggen):

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Those who remain number just over 100 as they near the first break of Day 2, watching and waiting for what they need to continue their tourney journeys.

Photography from LAPT8 Peru by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Peru: Opening gambit

LAPT8 Peru: Opening gambit

There are 15 tables’ worth of players presently pushing their chips back and forth, all engaging in the usual negotations, provocations, challenges, dares, and games of chicken caused by the cards being dealt to each.

This marks the fourth of six Latin American Poker Tour stops for Season 8, following the Bahamas (January), Chile (March), and Panama (May). From here the tour winds to Punta del Este, Uruguay in September, then comes the Grand Final in Sao Paulo, Brazil in November.

Coming into the day, there were three players left in the LAPT Peru field who had made LAPT final tables this season, and all three made their deep runs in Viña del Mar, Chile — Brazil’s Renata Teixeira (who finished runner-up), Argentina’s Nacho Barbero (who took fourth), and Chile’s Justo Esquivel (who finished fifth).

After an hour of play today, two of those three remain.

Teixeira entered the day with 33,700, a bit below the average, but ran into trouble after losing a big blind-versus-blind hand with ace-nine versus an opponent’s ace-ten, going out soon afterwards.

Esquivel meanwhile nursed a stack of about 15,000 for much of the first hour while managing to steer clear of trouble.

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Justo Esquivel

By contrast, Barbero has been active, having started Day 2 with 113,000 which was good for a spot just outside the top 10 to start the day. He’s emerged from various early skirmishes with about 80,000 at the moment.

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Nacho Barbero

Only a couple of tables’ worth of players departed along with Teixeira during Level 11, leaving about 115, with everyone still chasing start-of-day leader Chadi Moustapha who at the moment is sitting with arms folded behind his leading stack of 180,000, mostly letting others get on with their transactions, engagements, interrogations, feignings, and games of deceit.

Photography from LAPT8 Peru by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Peru: Eyes on the prize

LAPT8 Peru: Eyes on the prize

We’ve got some números finales to pass along as players return from the last break of the day here on Day 1B of the Latin American Poker Tour Peru Main Event.

We’d been eyeballing that total of 229 entries being reported on the tournament clock for a while, and after factoring in three additional no-shows that means 232 total for Day 1B.

Add that to the 134 entries from yesterday and the final total of entries equals 366, with a total prize pool of $807,396.

The top 55 finishers will be dividing that money, with the largest share of $156,576 going to the winner. Click here for a full rundown of the prize pool and payouts.

With the start of Level 9, there are just two more one-hour levels left to go tonight. There are about 115 players left to fight for chips during the night’s final stages, meaning the average stack at the moment is close to 40,000 or twice what players had when they began.

That average steadily goes up, but such hasn’t been the case for everyone today. Case in point — when the photo snapped below was taken a little earlier, Shakeeb Kazemipur on the left had the big stack and Nacho Barbero on the right the small one.

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Shakeeb Kazemipur and Nacho Barbero

That’s changed now, with Barbero the one up over 100,000 and Shakeeb having tumbled back down below the average.

Speaking of ups and downs, Aramis Salvadori of Argentina is another player who’s been hovering up over 120,000 of late, while Rodrigo Quezada — a seventh-place finisher at LAPT8 Chile — was recently knocked out after running pocket kings into an opponent’s pocket aces.

With those payouts now beaming from the big board for all to see, players have something else to look at — and strive for — besides the tournament clock ticking down the last minutes of Day 1B.

Photography from LAPT8 Peru by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Peru: Raul Alvarez bags Day 1A lead; David Vamplew finishes strong

LAPT8 Peru: Raul Alvarez bags Day 1A lead; David Vamplew finishes strong

The first Day 1 flight of the LAPT Peru Main Event has reached its conclusion, and following 10 one-hour levels of play Peru’s own Raul Alvarez was the one bagging the most chips out of the approximately 60 players making it through, collecting a total of 127,100 by the end of play.

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Raul Alvarez

It had only been last October when we made our last visit to the Atlantic City casino in the Miraflores district of Lima, when we witnessed the Chilean Oscar Alache picking up the trophy and title. The day thus began with thoughts of that event and other memorable poker in Peru.

The feelings of déjà vu persisted into the day’s first levels, especially when we saw Alache and Renata Teixeira — heads-up opponents at LAPT Chile this spring where Alache ultimately picked up a second LAPT title — meeting again after drawing seats side-by-side.

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Renata Teixeira and Oscar Alache

We saw Canadian friends Francois Lincourt and Shakeeb Kazemipur — both final tablists at LAPT Panama in May — sitting at the same table early on today as well. Lincourt finished fifth in that one while Kazemipur earned the victory, and the latter shared the story of that exciting experience with us.

Alache, Lincourt, and Kazemipur would each be eliminated before play concluded today, while Teixeira made it through to Sunday’s Day 2 with a stack of 33,700.

We spent the later afternoon and early evening perusing some of the other players who came out today, noting the many familiar faces among them. Looking at who made it through to night’s end, Daniel Bizoza (120,800), Regis Kogler (113,500), and Marcus Martinez (110,100) sported some of the bigger stacks, to be joined on Day 2 by Oscar Barriga (66,000), Ale Braga (51,200), Fabian Ortiz (40,700), and Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari (27,500).

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Regis Kogler

There were a couple of other players here today well known to followers of tournament poker, although neither had been seen frequenting the LAPT much before.

EPT/UKIPT London champion David Vamplew satellited into this one back in the spring, and midway through the first day of his LAPT debut spoke to us about how things were going to that point. The rest of the day went well for the Scottish pro, who ended the night bagging 113,300.

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David Vamplew

Dominik Nitsche was also here for a while today before busting. Unlike Vamplew, Nitsche had played on the LAPT before, and most memorably, too, winning a title in Argentina back in Season 2 and what is still the biggest first prize in tour history.

We’ll see Nitsche again tomorrow, and likely also many others who eliminated as they played into the night such as Ivan Luca, Alex Manzano, Mario Lopez, Amos Ben, Nacho Barbero, and Team PokerStars Pro Online member Jorge “Baalim’ Limon.

There were a total of 134 entries today, and expectations are tomorrow’s Day 1B will attract a much larger field. Play resumes once more at 12 noon local time. Join us again then to see who returns, who makes it through, and how players position themselves going forward as we together find out who will be the next LAPT Main Event champion.

Until then, buenos niches from Lima!

Photography from LAPT8 Peru by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Peru: Vamoooo Vamplew

LAPT8 Peru: Vamoooo Vamplew

The many poker tours criss-crossing the globe can sometimes carry players far from home for the purpose of playing cards. Case in point, a glance at the entry list from last season’s Latin American Poker Tour Peru Main Event reveals players from 35 different countries participated, including those from as far away as Taiwan, Australia, and South Africa.

None who played in Lima last October hailed from Scotland, but this year at least one has made that very trip — EPT/UKIPT London champion David Vamplew.

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David Vamplew

The player known as “davidv1213” on PokerStars did technically participate in one previous LAPT event — the inaugural LAPT Bahamas event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January. But today marks his first try otherwise on the LAPT.

“Basically one of my friends suggested it as somewhere to tack onto a trip from Vegas,” explains Vamplew, fresh off another long summer in the Nevada desert at the World Series of Poker.

“Most of the time when you’re in Europe, it’s an extremely long flight to come to South America — probably the cost of the flight makes it not worth it. So I played just one satellite in May, thinking ‘Oh, maybe I’ll go’ — and I won…. I thought, ‘well, I’m definitely going now.'”

We caught up Vamplew during the early stages of his LAPT Peru adventure, but asked him nonetheless if he’d formed any opinions about the field and caliber of play after having chipped up a bit from the 20,000-chip starting stack during the day’s first four levels.

“I guess my impression beforehand was that everyone was just going to go off,” he chuckles, referring to the Brazilians’ reputation in particular for a sometimes loose style. “But people probably play slightly tighter and slightly better than I expected.”

That impression is continuing to evolve, though, as suggested by Vamplew’s two-word punctuation to his early evaluation…

“We’ll see.”

As he does with every tournament he enters, Vamplew is hoping to make something good come from the opportunity to play. And given that this is his first time in Peru, he’s also intending to make the most of things away from the tables while he’s here.

“I’ve booked a little trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu as well,” says Vamplew. “So I can actually see a little bit of Peru while I’m here other than just the inside of a casino.”

Vamplew has accumulated more than $3.5 million in tournament earnings over the past five years, the £900,000 he earned for topping an 848-entry field in the EPT/UKIPT London Main Event in 2010 his largest tourney score. His having collected five more cashes at the WSOP this summer suggests things went well for him there, too, although he’s quick to provide a more honest assessment.

“That’s the most cashes I ever had by some distance,” he agrees. “But I didn’t make a profit. That’s what you’re aiming to do in the end, so I can’t say it was a success.”

With a seat won via a satellite and that exploration of Peruvian countryside soon to come, it sounds like Vamplew has already ensured him a profit of sorts here in Peru. Whether or not that profit will be of the financial variety for him, too… we’ll see.

Photography from LAPT8 Peru by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Peru: Panama winner Kazemipur keeping it fun

LAPT8 Peru: Panama winner Kazemipur keeping it fun

“What’s the next one… Uruguay?”

The question was directed to Fernando Obando, one of the TDs roaming the tables here on the second floor of the Atlantic City casino today. It had come from a grinning Shakeeb Kazemipur, and Obando nodded, affirming that the tour would next be visiting Punta del Este in September.

We might ascribe the cause of Kazemipur’s smile to his having finished the last LAPT Main Event with all of the chips, a big shiny trophy, and a nifty $180,112 prize for winning at the Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino in Panama City.

But truth be told, Kazemipur is practically always smiling, or at least sporting a mischievous look. And talking and often laughing, too, one of many players here today obviously enjoying spending the day around a poker table.

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We asked the Canadian to recount the experience of winning in Panama.

“It was my first LAPT,” he began. “The first thing that stood out was that once we got to the Sortis and got to the room — it was just such a really fancy hotel. It kind of persuaded us to want to start looking into a lot more PokerStars events because the Sortis was so great. I’m probably going to go back to Panama and play some smaller events with some of my friends, because it was such a sweet place and there was a lot of good cash game action.”

So far so good. But then came the poker, which for a day in Panama did its best to wipe that grin away.

“Day 1A was probably one of the worst Day Ones I’ve ever played,” he said, shaking his head. “I fired four bullets. I lost ace-king to queens, then queens to ace-king, then ace-king to tens, and then tens to ace-king… I mean everything was going wrong.”

Fortunately for Kazemipur, he’d qualified multiple times for the event online, and so had those extra entries to use. “Eventually, though, I couldn’t enter anymore on Day 1A,” he explained, “and so I got to sleep early.”

With a new day came a new perspective, rounded into shape by another short session on the virtual felt.

“I woke up and played a little online the next morning as a warm-up,” said Kazemipur. “While I did, I thought back about my play on Day 1A and realized that I was trying to force it in too many spots. I was getting in too many big blinds and not really realizing my edge against the field.”

“So on Day 1B I took a bit more of a small-ball approach, instead of pushing every edge — kind of like what people say you should do in the WSOP Main. And I just ran really well. I won a 50K pot at 100/200 with ace-king versus ace-ten, getting it in preflop (I had no idea how the guy had ace-ten there).”

“I had a really good table, too, with these really funny Venezuelan guys. It was the kind of table that you wanted to stick with. It had kind of a home-game feel, both skill-wise and in terms of the amount of fun we were having.”

Things continued to go Kazemipur’s way thereafter, and he’d end both Day 1B and Day 2 as chip leader, then had the second-best stack to start the final table before ending the night on top.

Kazemipur spoke further about the fun had at the tables in Panama, and that he’s already clearly been having today here in Lima.

“Everyone is so passionate,” he said, noting again how much players seem to enjoy themselves and drawing a contrast with a recent event he played in Montreal where everyone was “way too serious,” thereby making for a much less pleasant experience.

Kazemipur and his friends remained in Panama for a couple of weeks after his victory, then he went backpacking across South America right up until this week.

“I haven’t really been able to look at the trophy at all,” he added, rounding out his Panama story. “As soon as I won, I sent it back to Canada the day after, so I haven’t had the chance to enjoy sitting back and looking at this big silver trophy.”

“Hopefully I’ll just win one here — then I can look at it all the way back!”

A line delivered with a grin, natch.

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Photography from LAPT8 Peru by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Peru: Hand histories; or, we meet again

LAPT8 Peru: Hand histories; or, we meet again

We mentioned at the start today how the last time we were here, Chile’s Oscar Alache was the one hoisting the trophy following the final hand of the LAPT7 Peru Main Event. Then in the spring came some déjà vu when Alache earned himself a second LAPT Main Event trophy after winning LAPT8 Chile.

Alache became the third two-time LAPT champ in Viña del Mar. Another one, Nacho Barbero (who won the second of his two titles here in Lima back in Season 3), went out in fourth place in that one, getting knocked out by fellow Argentinian Javier Venegas who then followed Barbero to the rail in third.

That set up a heads-up duel that was also historic, LAPT-wise. Brazil’s Renata Teixeira had the chip lead over Alache and a shot at becoming the first woman to win an LAPT Main Event.

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Alache and Teixeira, heads-up in Viña

But Alache (alas) was able to chip away to gain the advantage, and after a lengthy battle finally took the last of Teixeira’s chips when her ace-queen failed to improve versus the Chilean’s pocket tens.

Thanks to the luck of the today’s table draw, the memory of those two sitting next to each other at the end of that tournament was revived for us at the start of play today.

Because what do you know…

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Teixeira and Alache, another clash

…they’re next to each other again. And how about that, the only other two-time LAPT Main Event champion, Fabian Ortiz, has taken a seat right across from them.

Since Chile came LAPT Panama in May, where a pair of Canadians made the final table with one of them, Shakeeb Kazemipur, ultimately emerging victorious in the end. There we also saw a woman finishing second as Ukraine’s Olga Iermolcheva equaled Teixeira’s finish by taking runner-up.

A key hand at that final table involved Kazemipur and his Canadian countryman, François Lincourt.

The hand saw both players flop flush draws that were never filled, while Lincourt made a pair of eights on the turn and Kazemipur a pair of jacks on the river. Lincourt then called a big river bet from Kazemipur to find himself suddenly short-stacked, and soon Lincourt was out in fifth.

We were reminded of that confrontation as well during our first-level journey around the tables, as the Canadians are likewise picking things up right where they left off — they, too, are sitting at the same table, with a single player in between them.

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Kazemipur (left) and Lincourt (right, in cap), together again

About a dozen tables’ worth of players are in action at the moment as the day’s first hour comes to a close, with late registration open until after the dinner break. Meanwhile, we’ll keep a watch to see how these LAPT players with histories of big hands between them play out this afternoon.

Photography from LAPT8 Peru by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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LAPT8 Panama: Iermolcheva dips, retakes the lead

When the season started, no woman had ever made it heads-up in an LAPT.

Now two have.

Two months ago in Viña del Mar, Renata Teixeira made the LAPT8 Chile final table as the short stack. Teixeira battled and doubled her way through the competition and made it heads-up with the chip lead.

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Renata Teixeira at LAPT8 Chile

But it wasn’t in the cards for Teixeira.

Oscar Alache, the eventual champion, won a series of pots off of Teixeira, took the lead and then eliminated the Brazilian player in second place.

Now another woman is knocking on victory’s door.

Their gender and poker skill might be the only things the two have in common though. Teixeira is a small, bubbly Brazilian with purple hair while Iermolcheva is a tall, fair-skinned Ukranian who’s rarely spoken at the table.

Another key difference is that Iermolcheva started the final table with the chip lead.

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Kazemipur took back the lead after the final table started and dealt all the eliminations except for one. Despite that, Iermolcheva continued to win big pots off of everyone and started the heads-up match with a slight lead.

But Kazemipur took the initiative early on and chipped Iermolcheva down to about 2.5 million.

The she started coming back.

Iermolchova worked her way back to about even and then the took the lead after a massive pot.

In that hand, Iermolcheva raised to 160,000 and Kazemipur called.

The flop came [8d][6s][10d] and Kazemipur check-called a 190,000 bet.

The turn was a [3s] and Iermolcheva bet 275,000. Kazemipur called and the [9c] completed the board.

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Kazemipur checked again and Iermolcheva bet 400,000. Kazemipur thought for some time and then raised to 1 million. It was Iermolcheva’s time to think and after a few minutes, she called.

Kazemipur showed [kh][8h] and Iermolcheva turned over [10h][6h] to take down the 3.2 million chip pot.

Iermolcheva jumped into the lead with 5.9 million while Kazemipur dropped to 2.4 million.

The possibility of the LAPTs first female champion is better than ever.

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For multilingual coverage, check out our Spanish PokerStars Blog and our Brazilian PokerStars Blog. If you’re more of a watcher, head over to LAPT Live to check out the live stream. Updates are also available on the LAPT Facebook page.

All photos are snapped by Carlos Monti and all words are clacked by Alexander Villegas.

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LAPT8 Panama: Ermolcheva leads the final eight

After three days of play, a field of 422 entrants was reduced to just eight.

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The final table

Leading the final eight is Olg Ermolcheva, with 2.71 million. Ermolcheva, a former PokerStars Protégé, barely made it to the tournament.

After playing in the EPT11 Grand Final, Ermolcheva flew straight to Panama and made it just before late registration closed.
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Olga Ermolcheva

Ermolcheva was short-stacked for much of that day but started chipping up on day 2. Then she took over Shakeeb Kazemipur’s seemingly unstoppable lead.

Kazemipur, a 20-year-old university student from Canada, finished both day 1 and day 2 with the chip lead and is starting the final table second in chips with 1.5 million. Kazemipur won the Sunday Million in early April and decided to play the LAPT and backpack through South America with his winnings.

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Shakeeb Kazemipur

Not a bad summer break.

Venezuela’s Tullio Bertoli is third in chips with 1.1 million. Tullio is the second Bertoli to make an LAPT final table. In the opening LAPT season, Tuillio’s brother, Jesus, made the LAPT San Jose final table.

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Tullio Bertoli

This makes them the only pair of brothers to make LAPT final tables.

Everyone at the final table will also be chasing their first LAPT title. Aside from the personal history that would make for each player, there’s a chance for LAPT history to be made.

The LAPT has yet to see a female champion.

Renata Teixeira has the record with a 2nd place finish, which she got just last stop in LAPT8 Chile. There, Teixeira started the heads-up match with the lead but lost out to Oscar Alache, who won his second LAPT title that trip.

Ermolcheva will be looking to improve that record.

Another novelty this LAPT final table is the way it’s being shown. Players will be using fancy RFID cards and the final table is being shown with hole cards on a one-hour delay.

Check out that live feed right here.

The final table
Seat 1: Francois Lincourt (Canada) 890,000
Seat 2: Francisco Rocha (Chile 592,000
Seat 3: Shakeeb Kazemipur (Canada) 1,508,000
Seat 4: Derek Ecenarro (USA) 290,000
Seat 5: Pierce Mckeller (USA) 741,000
Seat 6: Olga Ermolcheva (Ukraine) 2,710,000
Seat 7: Damian Salas (Argentina) 488,000
Seat 8: Tullio Bertoli (Venezuela) 1,103,000

For multilingual coverage, check out our Spanish PokerStars Blog and our Brazilian PokerStars Blog. If you’re more of a watcher, head over to LAPT Live to check out the live stream. Updates are also available on the LAPT Facebook page.

All photos are snapped by Carlos Monti and all words are clacked by Alexander Villegas.

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LAPT8 Panama: Four to one

Only four tables remain at LAPT8 Panama and play won’t stop until there’s only one.

Shakeeb Kazemipur, the 20-year-old student from the University of Calgary, has been leading since day 1b and plans to keep it that way. Kazemipur’s starting the day with 855,500.

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Shakeeb Kazemipur

Kazemipur is one of four remaining Canadians in the field. Both Canada and Brazil have four players in the field while the United States and Argentina have five apiece.

While Kazemipur leads the Canadians, Fernando Brunca Garcia leads the Brazilians with 255,500.

Michael Lech leads team USA with 388,000 and Carlos Leiva heads the Argentinians –and is second overall– with 711,000.

Third overall is Olga Iermolchova, Ukraine’s sole representative in the field. Iermolchova barely made it in time to register for the LAPT after flying in straight from the EPT11 Grand Final.

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Olga Iermolchova

Mexico’s only player is also the last red spade in the field. Team PokerStars Pro Christian De Leon is starting the day with 180,000 and is now deep in his sixth LAPT cash.

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Team PokerStars Pro Christian De Leon

While some players are seeing how far they can take their first LAPT cash, everyone in the field is hunting their first LAPT title.

The clock’s been frozen at 8:21 on level 17 since last night and it’ll start ticking again once cards hit the air.
Here’s today’s matchup:

Table 1

  • Alexandre Sako (Brazil) 253,000
    Shivan Raif Abdine (Australia) 258,500
    Fernando Gutierrez (Colombia) 276,500
    Pierce Mckellar (USA) 181,000
    Sergio Andres Pineda (Colombia) 130,000
    Walid Mubarak (Peru) 279,000
    Rodrigo Maclean (USA) 143,000
    Carlos Arturo Camango (Colombia) 104,000
  • Table 2

    Olga Temolchova (Ukraine) 598,500
    George Washington Griffith (Barbados) 107,000
    Sebastian Yanicelli Willink (Argentina) 205,000
    Tullio Jonhatan Bertoli Juarez (Venezuela) 324,000
    Richard Dubini (Argentina) 447,500
    Carlos Leiva (Argentina) 711,000
    Derek Bastian Ecenarro (USA) 298,000
    Juan Hiro Nisisaka Trujillo (Peru) 406,500

    Table 3

    Michal Wywrot (Canada) 182,000
    Isnardo Gomez Ortiz (Colombia) 5,000
    Andre Signori (Brazil) 85,500
    Jose Obadia Chocron (Panama) 136,500
    Damián Andrés Salas (Argentina) 74,500
    Norberto Andres Korn (Argentina) 572,000
    Francisco Javier Rocha (Chile) 271,000
    Christian De Leòn Angeles (Mexico) 180,000

    Table 4

    Eder Ferronato (Brazil) 98,000
    Shakeeb Kazemipur (Canada) 855,500
    Colin Eric Lovelock (United Kingdom) 220,000
    Michael Lech (USA) 388,000
    James Harvey (Canada) 8,500
    Alexander Greenblatt (USA) 162,500
    Francois Lincourt (Canada) 145,000
    Fernando Brunca Garcia (Brazil) 255,000

    Stay tuned for more updates from LAPT8 Panama.

    _________________________________________________________________

    For multilingual coverage, check out our Spanish PokerStars Blog and our Brazilian PokerStars Blog. If you’re more of a watcher, head over to LAPT Live to check out the live stream. Updates are also available on the LAPT Facebook page.

    All photos are snapped by Carlos Monti and all words are clacked by Alexander Villegas.

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    LAPT8 Panama: The Protégé

    It’s not often you see a Ukranian model cashing in an LAPT.

    A quick survey among LAPT staff suggests Olga Iermolcheva is probably the first.

    Chances are good that they’d remember.

    But Iermolcheva is a poker player first, a student of Russian literature second and a model third.

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    Olga Iermolcheva

    Iermolcheva started playing online poker by accident years ago, just fiddling around with play money. Since then, Iermolcheva played live across Europe and online as alfaromea.

    As alfaromea, Iermolcheva has racked up more than $160,000 in tournament earnings on PokerStars. As Olga Iermolcheva, she’s amassed nearly $100,000 in live tournament earnings, including a victory in a €500 NLHE side event in EPT11 Barcelona.

    On top of that, Iermolcheva was one of the PokerStars Protégés. Iermolcheva was one of the four selected and she apprenticed under her countryman, Eugene Katchalov.

    Iermolcheva’s Protégé video

    This is Iermolcheva’s first time in Latin America and she’s barely had time to do anything besides poker, as evidenced by her fair complexion.

    Iermolcheva flew in directly from the EPT11 Grand Final.

    “I got in just before registration closed yesterday,” Iermolcheva said. “I’ve only been outside to go to the supermarket.”

    But Iermolcheva hopes to hold off on the Panamanian outdoors for a bit longer. Iermolcheva has more than double the average stack with just 45 players left.

    Even after this tournament, Iermolcheva plans on using Panama’s convenient time zone to grind the SCOOP.

    After that, she’s off to Europe to play in the Eureka Poker Tour.

    LAPT-PANAMA2015-7072.jpg

    One place Iermolcheva won’t be able to play is in her native Ukraine. Iermolcheva used to play in casinos in the Ukraine but she says that due to the unrest, there hasn’t been a poker tournament in the Ukraine for about a year-and-a-half.

    There’s plenty of poker left for Iermolcheva here in Panama though.

    Iermolcheva and the final 45 players are now on a 75-minute dinner break and will be back to play four more levels or until they get down to the final 32.

    Shakeeb Kazemipur is still in the lead with close to 800,000.

    LAPT-PANAMA2015-6583.jpg

    Shakeeb Kazemipur

    For multilingual coverage, check out our Spanish PokerStars Blog and our Brazilian PokerStars Blog. If you’re more of a watcher, head over to LAPT Live to check out the live stream. Updates are also available on the LAPT Facebook page.

    All photos are snapped by Carlos Monti and all words are clacked by Alexander Villegas.

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    LAPT8 Panama: Uncovering Urbanovich

    At first glance, everything about Dzimtry Urbanovich appears to be a typo.

    A second look just reaffirms the almost unbelievable facts.

    Yes, that’s a “D” followed by a “z.” That’s how Polish works.

    Yes, he made 12 final tables this last EPT season, and yes, he won five of those tournaments. Four of those victories came from EPT11 Malta alone.

    Yes, he’s won more than $2 million in the last two months.

    Yes, he’s 19.

    Again, not a typo, Urbanovich is a teenager.

    Even the fact that he’s actually here seems to be a mistake. Urbanovich finished 3rd in the €10,000 NLHE Turbo 6-Max in the EPT11 Grand Final yesterday.

    That’s in Monte Carlo, not the Las Vegas Monte Carlo, the European one, a whole ocean away. Urbanoivch was there last night, he’s probably still sleeping in his hotel room there or out celebrating, not playing LAPT8 Panama.

    The reporting was so incredulous that our photographer went up to him with a picture of Urbanovich and asked this would-be teenager if that was him.

    A tired-looking Urbanovich nodded.

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    Urbanovich at LAPT8 Panama

    “I got in three hours ago,” Ubanovich said.

    There was no glitch in the Matrix. A small scrum of photographers huddled around the table and snapped pictures of the man they’d passed by so many times.

    Perhaps the most unbelievable part of Urbanovich’s sudden appearance was the fact that he barely had any chips, only about 10,000.

    Urbanovich moved all-in on the last hand before break but no one called.

    “The Latin players are different,” Urbanovich said. “Very aggressive, different style. I’ve had to change my strategy.”

    Changed to what, Urbanovich wouldn’t say, he’d just smile.

    Whatever strategy he had before was good enough to battle Eric Seidel heads-up for hours in a Super High Roller.

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    Urbanovich at the EPT Super High Roller

    That strategy is also a secret though.

    “I’ll not give an answer to that,” Urbanovich said when asked what the key to his success was. “I’ve just had a very good year.”

    But Urbanovich won’t be adding an LAPT victory to his glittering resume just yet. Shortly after returning from break, Urbanovich was eliminated.

    The trip actually happened by mistake, Urbanovich thought he was playing an online satellite for an EPT but won a package to LAPT8 Panama instead.

    It was apparently one of Urbanovich’s very few mistakes, but he decided to make the most of it.

    “I’m going to stay in Panama to play the SCOOP,” Urbanovich said. “The time zone is better than back home so I can play with a better schedule.”

    Urbanovich already has one SCOOP victory under his belt but will probably add another 35 in the next few weeks.

    EPT_GrandFinal-991_Dzmitry Urbanovich.jpg

    For multilingual coverage, check out our Spanish PokerStars Blog and our Brazilian PokerStars Blog. If you’re more of a watcher, head over to LAPT Live to check out the live stream. Updates are also available on the LAPT Facebook page.

    All photos are snapped by Carlos Monti and all words are clacked by Alexander Villegas.

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    LAPT8 Panama: Double barrel and single fire

    If at first you don’t succeed, rebuy until you win the tournament.

    Theoretically, this technique can only work for one person. Pragmatically, it would result in a lot of depleted bankrolls.

    A few players are going for at least their second shot today in day 1b.

    Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari and Christian De Leon have both bought into day 1b after failing to make it through yesterday. Both Team Pros are LAPT veterans, claiming victories in side events and making main event final tables.

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    Team PokerStars Pro Christian De Leon

    An LAPT title has evaded both team pros so far though, but they’re hoping to change that in the next few days.

    Also taking another shot at the title today are Ari Engel and Dominick Zito.

    Engel and Zito both play poker for a living but go about it in different ways. Zito is one of the few PokerStars players that racked up 1 million FPPs in the 2014 calendar year to make it to Supernova Elite.

    Zito did this by playing single-table Sit & Gos, thousands and thousands of Sit & Gos.

    It’s a more steady source of income than tournaments, Zito says, and he only plays tournaments like this one in hopes of scoring a big payday.

    LAPT-PANAMA2015-6359.jpg

    Dominick “dombomain33” Zito

    Zito is also hunting his first LAPT cash.

    Engel on the other hand is a veteran of live tournaments. Engel has racked up more than $2 million in live tournament earnings. Engel has been racking up live tournament cashes since 2006, the golden age of online poker.

    Engel has several tournament victories and three six-figure scores with the biggest being $177,045. His $2 million comes from grinding tournaments across the world throughout the years.

    LAPT-PANAMA2015-6287.jpg

    Ari Engel

    Engel has cashed in the LAPT before but is looking to score another victory on Latin American turf.

    Another player firing another bullet but looking to score his first tournament cash outside his home country is Shakeeb Kazemipur. A student at the University of Calgary, Kazemipur won the Sunday Million a few weeks ago and decided to play LAPT8 Panama and backpack throughout South America during summer break.

    LAPT-PANAMA2015-6524.jpg

    Shakeeb Kazemipur

    Some players decided to wait until today to take their first shot at the title.

    One of these newcomers used to be a local.

    Brent Sheirbon moved down to Panama in 2007 and lived here until recently. Sheirbon made the long trek to Colombia and settled down there with his girlfriend.

    Originally from the United States, Sheirbon has been on the Latin American poker scene since he moved to Costa Rica in 2006.

    Thumbnail image for brent-sheirbon.JPG

    In that time, Sheirbon has cashed several times in the LAPT and made two LAPT final tables. Sheirbon, like many others in the field, won’t be satisfied until he claims a trophy.

    Even if he wins one, he’ll be back for another.

    Several other fresh faces and qualifiers took their seats for the first time today and we’re expecting even more.

    The number of entrants has already surpassed day 1a. There are currently 158 entries for day 1b and registration is still open until the end of dinner break.

    _______________________________________________________________________

    For multilingual coverage, check out our Spanish PokerStars Blog and our Brazilian PokerStars Blog. If you’re more of a watcher, head over to LAPT Live to check out the live stream. Updates are also available on the LAPT Facebook page.

    All photos are snapped by Carlos Monti and all words are clacked by Alexander Villegas.

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    LAPT8 Panama: Zito’s search for Sit & Gos

    Earlier today we talked about the Hotel California effect of the LAPT.

    Some attractive features of Latin America include: warm weather, lower cost of living, beaches and –for Americans– a vast supply of online poker.

    This last part became increasingly important after the events of April 11th, 2011, commonly known as Black Friday.
    In a bizarre turn of events, several Americans immigrated to Latin America in order to pursue their livelihood.

    One of those players was Dominick “dombomain33” Zito.

    LAPT-PANAMA2015-6359.jpg

    Dominick Zito

    Before moving to the beautiful tropics of Costa Rica, Zito ran to the poker-fertile –but frigid– land of Canada.
    Before that he was in Jersey.

    Zito, a graduate from Montclair State University in New Jersey, was planning on teaching math after graduating in 2009.

    One of Zito’s friends knew the principal of the school he was applying to and Zito thought he was a shoe-in. Zito is a man who prefers a safe bet and minimizing risk, an odd combination for a professional poker player.

    “It didn’t work out though,” Zito said.

    So Zito went pro.

    Zito started playing sit&gos as a professional player and had a successful first year. Black Friday hit the following year.

    In pursuit of poker, Zito fled north with a hometown friend and they shacked up in Montreal.

    Zito’s friend didn’t last long in poker and Zito didn’t last long in the cold.

    Zito parted ways with his friend and moved to the much warmer city of Jaco in Costa Rica.

    “There was something like 50 to 75 players there after Black Friday,” Zito said. “But they scattered pretty quick.”

    Jaco, located on Costa Rica’s central-pacific coast, is a world class surfing beach but is also home to several of Costa Rica’s seedier elements.

    While the others scattered, Zito found a reason to stay, a woman.

    It’s been three years since they met and now they’re engaged.

    “I’m glad [Black Friday] happened,” Zito laughed. “I mean, I miss my family but I never would’ve done any of this.

    “I learned another language. I never would’ve done that if I hadn’t left. Poker’s not hard man, try learning a completely different language.”

    Zito learned Spanish by fire and speaks with distinct Costa Rican slang.

    LAPT-PANAMA2015-6371.jpg

    It’s not only helped him get around Costa Rica, but other Spanish-speaking countries across the world. After Costa Rica, Zito spent a few months travelling through Europe and flew to LAPT Panama after staying in Argentina for several months.

    After this event, Zito is travelling to Playa del Carmen. He’s not sure what comes after that though.

    “I think about that all the time,” Zito said. “If someone gave me a contract with good pay and stability I’d probably take it.”

    For now, single-table sit&gos coupled with the occasional LAPT provide Zito with enough stability.

    “I’d really like to get a job where I can go out and socialize and you know, help people,” Zito said.
    _____________________________________________________________

    For multilingual coverage, check out our Spanish PokerStars Blog and our Brazilian PokerStars Blog. If you’re more of a watcher, head over to LAPT Live to check out the live stream. Updates are also available on the LAPT Facebook page.

    All photos are snapped by Carlos Monti and all words are clacked by Alexander Villegas.

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    LAPT8 Panama: Teixeira takes on the world

    Renata Teixeira is currently the only woman in the field, but it’s a position she’s comfortable with.

    Just a few months ago, in LAPT8 Chile, Teixeira was almost the last man or woman left standing. Teixeira became the 6th woman to reach an LAPT final table but made it further than any of them.

    Teixeira beat Jessica Bedoya’s 3rd place record –a record that stood since since season 4– after she eliminated Javier Venegas in 3rd place.

    Teixeira got heads-up with the lead but Oscar Alache took down a series of pots and eliminated Teixeira in a flip.

    LAPTViñaTexeira.jpg

    Teixeira and Alache, heads-up for the title

    Teixeira took the record for best female LAPT finish and Alache became the third player to win two LAPT titles.

    “[The finish was] so amazing, it was crazy but it’s the result of working so hard last year,” Teixeira said. “I worked and studied so much. I was so happy to make it so far.”

    While women tend to be even more scarce in Latin American poker tournaments, Teixeira says “there are lots of women playing poker in Brazil.”

    Teixeira, a São Paulo native, lives in one of the fastest-growing poker markets in the world.

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    Renata Teixeira

    The entire first season of the Brazilian Series of Poker drew 427 players throughout seven event while he most recent season drew 7,620 players. Out of that number, 2,749 players showed up for the São Paulo millions alone.

    In 2006, the largest BSOP São Paulo event drew 67 players.

    The Brazilian poker craze has even attracted the country’s biggest sports stars. Soccer phenom Ronaldo made a deep run in this year’s PCA and just yesterday, Neymar Jr. joined PokerStars as a brand ambassador.

    Thumbnail image for Neymar Jr - PokerStars.jpg

    Neymar Jr.

    Both poker and Teixeira are doing well in Brazil

    Teixeira, 28, started playing poker four years ago but has been playing professionally for the last two.

    Teixeira is stoic and calm at the table, her face hidden behind multi-colored hair and sunglasess. Away from it, she’s small and bubbly and has a hard time getting through a sentence without giggling.

    Her charisma, skills and colorful hair has attracted a number of fans which took to the rail and the internet –wearing purple wigs– when she finished 2nd in LAPT8 Chile.

    LAPT-PANAMA2015-5591.jpg

    Teixeira and her fans

    Teixeira, who was on Andre Akkari’s list of pros in Brazil, has been benefitting from the explosion of poker in Brazil.

    While Teixeira used to play predominantly online as XTINHAX, she’s now able to find daily tournaments around São Paulo.

    Now that the groundwork is there and her results are starting to rack up, Teixeira wants to go full pro.

    “I’ve been working [to go pro] and studying so much this past year,” Teixeira said. “That’s my dream in poker.”

    LAPT-PANAMA2015-3927.jpg

    For multilingual coverage, check out our Spanish PokerStars Blog and our Brazilian PokerStars Blog. If you’re more of a watcher, head over to LAPT Live to check out the live stream. Updates are also available on the LAPT Facebook page.

    All photos are snapped by Carlos Monti and all words are clacked by Alexander Villegas.

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    LAPT8 Panama: Welcome to the Hotel Latin America

    The Latin American Poker Tour has been known to change lives.

    Aside from the often life-changing six-figure payouts to its champions, the LAPT introduces several players to Latin America.

    Many online players plan on coming down to play an event they qualified for but end up starting a whole new life.
    One of the most notable cases is Carter Gill.

    Years ago, Gill was famous for his drinking antics in an industry known for its drinking antics. Gill was once banned –and then un-banned– from Harrah’s properties while he was still in the WSOP Main Event.

    LAPT-PANAMA2015-6173.jpg

    Carter Gill

    Gill kept playing live and online throughout Latin America and matured from tournament to tournament. Gill now has a Colombian wife and an Oregonian/Colombian son. The small, young family splits their time between Colombia, Oregon and poker.

    While Gill’s antics have calmed down, a new boisterous player with plans to explore Latin America has emerged.

    Canada’s Shakeeb “njåguar” Kazemipur is playing his first LAPT today.

    Kazemipur is only 20 so he hasn’t had the chance to get banned from the WSOP, but he was banned from the PokerStars chatbox. That ban was momentarily lifted when Kazemipur made the Sunday Million final table a few weeks ago.

    LAPT-PANAMA2015-6315.jpg

    Shakeeb “njåguar” Kazemipur

    Kazemipur, a finance and law student at the University of Calgary, won the Sunday Million for $183,000 and decided to his show on the road.

    Kazemipur has played a few events throughout Canada and went to Europe for EPT Monaco, but he’s trying to make his visit here more than poker.

    “I’m trying to build a trip off of it,” Kazemipur said. “Come here and then go backpacking after the SCOOP, around Bolivia and Brazil and stuff.”

    Another novelty for Kazemipur is the new player pool that predominantly speaks a different language.

    “It’s definitely weird because when I’m playing in North America, I know a lot of people, but here, everyone’s an unknown,” Kazemipur said. “It’s good because I’m also an unknown so it kind of plays to my advantage.”

    Kazemipur hasn’t seen much of Latin America yet since he just flew in last night, but he says he probably won’t follow Gill’s footsteps of settling down in Latin America.

    Kazemipur –and most players on the tour– would like to emulate Gill’s results on the LAPT though. Gill has six LAPT cashes, including two final tables and a victory. Gill finished 4th in LAPT6 Panama and then won LAPT6 Uruguay for $238,260 less than two months later.

    Four months after that, Gill won a tournament in Panama and scored another six-figure payday.

    Gill was in the field today but already busted. That won’t stop him from firing another bullet though.

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