Recently in LAPT Punta del Este Season 1 Category

August 9, 2008 11:10 PM

LAPT Punta del Este: Begin the reign of the man from Spain

All good things must come to an end, and now the first season of the Latin America Poker Tour (LAPT) is in the record books. After Julien Nuijten in Rio de Janeiro, Valdemar Kwaysser in San Jose, the third and final champion has also been decided. And he is also a European. His name is Jose Miguel Espinar, from Valencia, Spain.

The rain on the Spaniard: Jose Miguel Espinar emerges from the ticker tape as a champion

Espinar came through a super-tough final table in Punta del Este, Uruguay, tonight, and won a mammoth heads-up battle against Alex Brenes, of Costa Rica. But at the end, it came down to a huge hand when both players got their level chip stacks in the middle with A-10 and A-9. Espinar had the A-10, and although Brenes thought he'd outdrawn the Spaniard when a nine flopped, the ten on the turn sealed the hand for Espinar.

Delight turns to despair as Alex Brenes outdraws but then is outdrawn on

That left Brenes with just 40,000 in chips, not even a small blind, and Espinar's king-three was enough to win it on the next hand.

The ticker tape rained down, the 80s pop songs boomed out from the speakers. Espinar and his friends from Spain wiped away tears and we crowned a worthy champion.

Espinar deserved it. After two days of stiff competition, we reconvened at the Mantra Resort in Punta at 1pm today with a typically-formidable line-up around the final table. Leading the way was Team PokerStars Pro Alexandre Gomes, fresh from World Series success, and carrying the hopes of the Team on his capable shoulders.


But not even Gomes could get away from a hand against Alex Brenes at about the mid-point of the day, when he flopped straight and flush draws but missed them all. Brenes, in fact, hit his straight and sent Gomes out in fourth.

By then, we had already accounted for Brazil's Paulo Cesar Ribeiro, Argentina's Juan Jose Perez, Brazil's Sydney Chreem and Canada's Gylbert Drolet in an all-action opening couple of levels.

We were hardly five minutes in when Ribeiro was forced out: he got all his chips in with pocket jacks, but Espinar, whose king-queen had tripped up on the flop, had trapped him.


Out went the first Brazilian and Espinar was up and running.

Next up for the guillotine was Perez, from Argentina, who also ran into the immovable object Espinar. This time Espinar had a suited ace jack and was way behind against Perez's aces. But the flop, turn and river got progressively straighter for the Spaniard and the king on the river ended it.


Espinar punched the air, Perez punched holes in a voodoo doll of youngster from Valencia. We were down to six.


For a while, it became the Lisandro Gallo show. The Argentinian busted Sidney Chreem, of Brazil, with pocket sevens against Q-10. Then the final PokerStars qualifier and only North American, the Canadian Gylbert Drolet took the walk.


He had been card dead for the whole final table and had been reduced to a small stack when he got it all in with jacks. But the vibrant Gallo, the most vociferous around the table for the best part of two days, called with ace-queen and ended up making a flush.


Then it was time for Gomes to go, to leave Gallo, Brenes and Espinar to fight it out three handed. Gallo was the short stack and although he yo-yoed up and down a couple of times, he eventually ran a pair of sixes into a pair of jacks and then a nine high into aces. Gallo shrugged, smiled, shook hands and walked. Good game Gallo.


The heads up battle pitched two of the most accomplished players against once another. Espinar is a familiar face on the European Poker Tour and had cashed in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure earlier this year. Brenes had already been on an LAPT final table -- in Rio in March -- as well as appearing in the final stages of World Series and WPT events.


What's more, the two of them had been facing off against one another all day; the poker gods had pitted the two against each other numerous times. This heads-up battle had been brewing and then we had what we wanted. They jabbed, they parried, they ducked and weaved.

It went on for more than three levels before that big hand with the ace-ten and the ace-nine. And after all the money had gone in and all the chips had been shipped, they shook hands, hugged and knew it would all happen again some other day.

The first season of the Latin American Poker Tour is over. But it will all start again in November. In the meantime, take a look back at this tournament with the links below, and check out the PokerStars site for satellite tournaments to be a part of season two.

Day one wrap
Day two wrap

A full list of prize-winners can be found HERE.

Read all about it in Spanish HERE and read all about it in Portuguse HERE.


Gracias y adios.

All photographs (c) Joe Giron/IMPDI

The PokerStars team of video bloggers has been hard at work, as ever, in Punta del Este. Once the tournament got heads up, they reviewed the day with the first clip here. Their full interview with the champion follows.

Watch LAPT Punta del Este: An Over View on

Watch LAPT Punta del Este: The Winner! on

Check out all the action over at

August 9, 2008 10:18 PM

LAPT Punta del Este: Final table, level 27

11.40pm -- Jose Miguel Espinar, Spain, champion of LAPT Punta del Este, earning $241,735
Alex Brenes, Costa Rica, eliminated in second place, earning $127,675

It all goes in next hand and Brenes has A-10 against Espinar's king-five. But a king flops and it stay good, giving the title to the Spaniard. A third European champion on the LAPT.

11.30pm -- Massive, massive hand that should have won this thing for Jose Miguel Espinar. They conspire to get it all in with A-9 (Brenes) against A-10 (Espinar) and the chips are counted. Brenes had edged slightly into the lead after a previous hand in this level, but only by 40,000 in chips. If Brenes could outdraw Espinar, he'd be champion. If Espinar's hand held up, he' be dominant. But there was drama. A nine flopped sending the partisan Costa Rica crowd wild. But then a ten turned and there was silence as Espinar took the lead again. Brenes is down to air.

11.20pm -- We're into level 27, with blinds at 50,000-100,000 and a 10,000 ante. That's an ante worth every player's buy-in.

The chip counts are as follows:

Jose Miguel Espinar, Spain -- 1,950,00
Alex Brenes, Costa Rica -- 1,570,000

August 9, 2008 9:11 PM

LAPT Punta del Este: Final table, level 26

11.10pm -- We have a ten minute break at the end of the level and white chips are coming into play.

11.05pm -- After a period of small-ball jousting, there's a raise and a re-raise pre-flop with Espinar repopping Brenes to the tune of about 250,000. Brenes thinks and thinks, then he stands up and looks for all the world as though he's folding. But then ..... he folds.

10.55pm -- A sizeable pot goes to Alex Brenes, which levels everything up. Espinar mucked his cards at the end, but he had been beaten by two pair in Brenes's hand -- eights and fives -- which came on turn and river.

10.45pm -- This is kind of like live blogging a metronome. It's going backwards and forwards but the net result is always something similar: Espinar currently has 2,000,000 and Brenes 1,500,000. Tick, tock, tick...

10.30pm -- It's following a definite pattern here: Jose Miguel Espinar gets about a million chips ahead by playing small-pot poker, then Alex Brenes scoops a biggie and they get back even again. We're nearing the mid point of level 26 and they're all but even again. Tournament director Mike Ward is considering breaking out the white 25,000-value chips to take some of the strain away from the players who are doing a lot of shifting of chip towers.

10.15pm -- Almost imperceptibly, we're into level 26. The blinds now are 30,000-60,000 and a 5,000 ante.

August 9, 2008 8:06 PM

LAPT Punta del Este: Final table, level 25

10.10pm -- King high good. They get all the way to the river, and see a board of A-9-5-3-5. Espinar bet the turn but Alex called, and after they both checked the river, Brenes showed jack high. That was no match for Espinar's king.

10.05pm -- There's more to think about than there is to write about.


10pm -- But that's a bigger pot. They get to the flop with the minumum of betting, and it comes A-A-8. Check, check. The turn is a 2 and Espinar bets 200,000. Brenes calls. The river is a six and now Brenes bets 300,000. Espinar calls and is shown A-8 for the flopped full house. The pot is close to 800,000 and the players end up back to where they started the level.

9.55pm -- The first all in of the heads up comes when Alex Brenes check-raises Espinar. The Spaniard never looks like calling and doesn't. Small pot only for the Costa Rican.

9.45pm -- As the tension mounts in Uruguay, here's some light relief courtesy of our video bloggers. First, Alexandre Gomes talks about his charge to the final table, then the Brenes brothers give their thoughts on the tournament:

Watch LAPT Punta del Este: Alexandre Gomes on

Watch LAPT Punta del Este: Brenes Brothers on

9.40pm -- Brenes folds. He's left with 900,000; Espinar has 2.4million.

9.30pm -- Another small pot for Brenes, 88,000 to be precise, comes when he bets the river on an A-Q-K-3-4 board and Espinar folds. Soon after, Espinar raises about 100,000 pre-flop and Brenes calls. The flop come 9d-7d-6s and Espinar bets again, which Brenes calls to swell the pot to 538,000. Espinar checks the 4s turn and Brenes bets 400,000. This prompts Espinar to move all in -- the first of the heads up battle and Brenes has a decision...

9.20pm -- The first flop of the new level comes eight high, and when another eight comes on the turn, Jose Miguel Espinar bets 60,000 at it. Alex Brenes, with the Costa Rican scarf draped over his shoulders, a Brenes-trademark sun visor over his eyes, calls. The river is a four, a second four, meaning the final board reads 8-8-9-4-4 and prompts Espinar to bet 180,000. Brenes thinks about this one for a long time, munching on chewing gum, before he calls and shows A-3, for eights and fours with an ace kicker.


It's good and Brenes takes a 580,000 pot. It's now 1.9m for Espinar, 1.7m for Brenes. On we go.

9.10pm -- After some nourishment (well, a players' buffet) we're back for level 25. Tournament officials took a count at the break and this is it:

Jose Miguel Espinar, Spain -- 2,257,000
Alex Brenes, Costa Rica -- 1,264,000

Espinar, therefore, has about a million more than his Costa Rican adversary, but the new blinds are still only 20,000-40,000, with a 4,000 ante. Plenty of play left.

August 9, 2008 6:05 PM

LAPT Punta del Este: Final table, level 24

8.30pm -- The level is over, and we're off to dinner. It was a largely uneventful first hour of heads up action and the stacks are almost level. We'll be back for level 25 soon.

8.20pm -- We've been playing heads up for about 50 minutes and the players are still about even in chips. Team PokerStars Pro Humberto Brenes is calling the action and is trying to get the railbirds involved. Some of them ran forward to drape a Costa Rica flag over Alex Brenes's shoulders.


No one has a Spanish flag for Jose Miguel Espinar.

8pm -- Flops have been few and far between. And both these players are extremely deep-stacked, meaning this one could definitely go on for a good long while assuming there are no aces versus kings style blow outs. In one hand that did go past the pre-flop action, Espinar check-raised Brenes on a flop of As-2d-4d, and Brenes let it go.

7.45pm -- We're heads up, and here's a bird's, a Brenes' and an Espinar's eye view:




7.40pm -- A small pot for Jose Miguel Espinar, who bets the flop of 2h-9s-5d, then bets the turn of 5s. Alex Brenes calls the first tickle of 40,000, but gives up when it goes up to 80,000.

7.30pm -- This should be a fairly tasty heads-up battle as these two players have clearly dominated this table to date and have not shown any fear of one another. In fact, on occasion, they've seemed to seek out one another in the big pots and this one-on-one contest has been waiting to happen for quite some time.

7.05pm -- The elimination of Lisandro Gallo was the last action of level 23. They've taken a short break before starting level 24 (blinds 15,000-30,000 with a 3,000 ante) and here are the chip counts for mano-a-mano action:

Jose Miguel Espinar -- 1,993,000
Alex Brenes -- 1,528,000

Lisandro Gallo's run to third in this event was a truly spectacular one. Here's how he described it to our video bloggers:

Watch LAPT Punta del Este: Lisandro Gallo on

And here's what Alex Brenes, who is now heads up, had to say:

Watch LAPT Punta del Este: Alex Brenes on

August 9, 2008 4:38 PM

LAPT Punta del Este: Final table, level 23

7pm - Lisandro Gallo, Argentina, eliminated in third place, earning $93,630
After the huge hand against Espinar, Gallo was left with just 10,000, putting him all in in the big blind. Remarkably, he doubled up twice, with nine-six and then ace-king, but the third time he tries it, he can't pull off another miracle. Alex Brenes has aces, of all things, and Gallo has queen-nine. He can't catch up with the bullets, and Gallo is gone.

Adios Lisandro

6.40pm -- Lisandro Gallo raises pre flop and Jose Miguel Espinar re-raises about another 110,000, giving the decision back to the Argentinian. He calls. The flop comes 2d-6h-10d and both players check. The turn is the Jh and Espinar bets 200,000. Gallo thinks, then moves all in for about 800,000, which just covers Espinar. Espinar calls and shows A-J for top pair; Gallo has six-eight. The river is another jack and Espinar takes a massive pot, all but eliminating Gallo. The count down takes an age.

6.35pm-- Double up for Lisandro Gallo, courtesy of an outdraw. He was short stacked and got it all in pre-flop behind ace-five. Alex Brenes had ace-nine, but the five flopped and Gallo takes a pot of around about 900,000 to stay alive.


6.30pm-- Alex Brenes and Jose Miguel Espinar are at each other's throats again. Brenes takes a pot with a flop bet, but then Espinar gets it back, and more, when his 9-10 hits a ten on the flop and also gets a call from Brenes's J-8, who hits an eight. It's worth about 150,000.

6.20pm -- Lisandro Gallo is spending only about 50 percent of his time around the table, otherwise speaking to his friends on the rail. When he comes back, he's in shove mode and takes a pot off of Jose Miguel Espinar with one pre-flop all in.

6.10pm -- Big pot goes to Alex Brenes, denting Jose Miguel Espinar. Brenes raises from the button, Espinar bumps it up to 105,000 from the small blind pre-flop. The flop comes 4h-4d-Ah and both players check. They also check the turn of Jh, but the river of 8h gets the betting going. Alex Brenes bets 250,000 and Espinar makes a seemingly-reluctant call. He has rivered two pair with his A-8 (no heart) but Brenes has pocket eights for eights full of fours.

Jose Miguel Espinar knows he is beat

6pm -- With blinds now at 12,000-24,000 (3,000 ante), and with Alex Brenes and Jose Miguel Espinar holding more than a million in chips, the pressure is on Lisandro Gallo, who has the small stack of 625,000. He doesn't seem to have been feeling much pressure in the tournament so far and has enjoyed it start to finish. But let's see how he copes from here on in.

5.35pm -- Players are taking a 15 minute break before we enter level 23. Their chips counts -- and their photos -- look like this:

Alex Brenes, Costa Rica, 1,655,000

Jose Miguel Espinar, Spain, 1,240,000

Lisandro Gallo, Argentina, 625,000

August 9, 2008 3:55 PM

LAPT Punta del Este: Final table, level 22

5.25pm -- Alex Brenes and Jose Miguel Espinar are at it again, with Espinar raising from the button pre-flop (to 55,000) and Brenes reraising 220,000 from the big blind. Espinar calls. The flop is 8s-Jd-9h and both players check. The 7s comes on the turn and Brenes moves all in for 900,000 and change. Espinar folds.

5.20pm -- Approximate chip counts with three left:

Jose Miguel Espinar - 1,740,000
Alex Brenes - 1,220,000
Lisandro Gallo - 602,000

5.15pm -- Jose Miguel Espinar wipes some of the smile off of Alex Brenes's face when he takes the mighty 9-3 up against Brenes's Q-4 and spikes a third nine on the river to scoop a 500,000-odd pot. Brenes had flopped a queen and Espinar had flopped a nine. But most of the money went in when that third nine rivered, and Espinar has levelled things out a bit.

5pm -- There's a special kind of grin in poker, known as the chip leader's grin. It looks something like this:


4.50pm -- Team PokerStars Pro Alexandre Gomes, Brazil, eliminated in fourth place, earning $68,100
Level 22 starts with a flourish, but unfortunately means that the final Team PokerStars Pro is out of here. All the money goes in on the flop on 4s-3c-6s between Alexandre Gomes and Alex Brenes. They have very similar stacks -- about 880,000 for Brenes against Gomes's 815,000 -- and they actually have pretty similar hands. Brenes shows A-5, for the up-and-down straigh draw; Gomes has Qs-7s for the inside straight draw and flush draw. The 7h on the turn fills the straight for Brenes and the flush card doesn't river. Gomes is out, Brenes is the last Alex standing, and he's in the chip lead.

Alexandre Gomes sees the bad news

Before the final table got underway, Gylbert Drolet, the PokerStars qualifier from Canada, who finished fifth, spoke to our video bloggers:

Watch LAPT Punta del Este: Gylbert Drolet on

August 9, 2008 2:21 PM

LAPT Punta del Este: Final table, level 21

4.50pm-- That's the end of the level, with the chip counts something like this.

Jose Miguel Espinar -- 1,063,000
Alex Brenes -- 880,000
Alex Gomes -- 815,000
Lisandro Gallo -- 620,000

4.40pm -- Alex Brenes wins a pot of about 250,000 from Lisandro Gallo. Brenes flops a full house with A-J when the flop comes A-J-J. Gallo has A-K and calls a bet of about 120,000 on the river. Brenes moves back from the short stack to contention.


4.30pm -- Alexandre Gomes picks up a pot, beating Jose Miguel Espinar to the punch. The Spanish player Espinar raises pre-flop to 45,000 and Gomes calls. Both players check the flop of 4h-3s-3d, then Gomes fires 70,000 on the turn of 6d. The river is the 7h and Gomes now leads out for 130,000. Espinar folds.


4.10pm -- Gylbert Drolet, PokerStars qualifier from Canada, eliminated in fifth place, earning $51,070
Finally a hand, and it accounts for the final PokerStars qualifier in the field, Gylbert Drolet, from Canada. Lisandro Gallo raises pre-flop from under the gun, making it 44,000. Drolet, one to his left, moves all in for 151,000 more and although Jose Miguel Espinar thinks about calling, he gets out of the way and allows the Argentinian to make the call. Gallo shows Ac-Qh against Drolet's pocket jacks. But it's the suits that are important: the flop is all clubs, the turn is a heart, but the river is the fifth club to make the ace-high flush for Gallo. Drolet is ousted.

Victory again for Lisandro Gallo

A decision and then defeat for Gylbert Drolet

4pm -- Alexandre Gomes just took down a small pot with that rarest of beasts in Punta del Este: a re-raise. Alex Brenes had jacked it up pre-flop to 45,000; Gomes added another 150,000 and after a moment of posturing, Brenes let it go. Still pretty slow here.

3.45pm -- The lack of updates here in Punta de Este represents a distinct lack of action. Yesterday, Drolet was the action player, playing a lot of pots and bullying. But since he has become the short stack, he's not been able to play his natural game and instead is being pushed around a bit by the likes of Lisandro Gallo, to his left.

3.20pm -- After a 15 minute break, we have entered level 21. The blinds are 8,000-16,000 with a 2,000 ante. Chip counts at the break:

Jose Miguel Espinar, Spain -- 1,350,000
Lisandro Gallo, Argentina - 775,000
Alexandre Gomes, Team PokerStars Pro, Brazil -- 621,000
Alex Brenes, Costa Rica -- 490,000
Gylbert Drolet, Canada, PokerStars qualifier -- 227,000

Alex Brenes, one of the final five on the LAPT. Again.

August 9, 2008 1:16 PM

LAPT Punta del Este: Final table, level 20

3.10pm -- The level ends with Lisandro Gallo taking another pot, this time from Alexandre Gomes. The tactics are the same: Gallo calls a button raise in the big blind, then check calls all the way to the river. By that point, the board features two aces, a three, a nine and a queen and when Gallo bets out 110,000, Gomes lets it go and heads off for a break.

2.50pm -- It's tightened up considerably in Punta del Este, with few hands making it to the flop and any pre-flop raise usually taking it down. Lisandro Gallo just took a decent-ish pot from Gylbert Drolet, when he check-called all the way in a battle of the blinds and showed down A-10 for ace-high which, remarkably, was good enough. Drolet shipped the best part of 200,000 to the Argentinian. Previously, Alex Brenes kept himself ticking over, when he took a nibble out of Jose Miguel Espinar's chip-lead. Nothing major; we're still five players.

Humberto Brenes calls the action in Punta del Este

2.30pm -- Jose Miguel Espinar just flexed his muscles and took down a decent pot from Alex Brenes. Espinar check-raised Brenes's bet on a flop of As-2d-5s and that was enough to get Brenes to put it down. Espinar continues to climb.

2.10pm -- We're into level 20, where the blinds are 6,000-12,000 (1,000 ante). The approximate chip counts for the remaining five players are:

Jose Miguel Espinar, Spain -- 1,145,000
Alexandre Gomes, Team PokerStars Pro, Brazil -- 800,000
Gylbert Drolet, PokerStars qualifier, Canada -- 600,000

Alex Brenes, Costa Rica -- 500,000
Lisandro Gallo, Argentina -- 450,000

August 9, 2008 12:19 PM

LAPT Punta del Este: Final table update

2.05pm -- Sidney Chreem, Brazil, eliminated in sixth place, earning $34,045
The tournament short-stack Sidney Chreem moves all in pre-flop for his last 50,000. Lisandro Gallo reraises from the button and everyone else folds. They're racing, as Gallo flips pocket sevens and and Gallo shows Q-9d. The all-in player picks up bundles of outs on the flop -- 10c-8s-10h -- but misses them all on turn and river and is sent packing. That's the end of the level.

One of these pictures shows the winner, the other the loser. You figure it out:



2pm -- Decent sized pot goes to Team PokerStars Pro Alexandre Gomes. Gylbert Drolet raises pre-flop to 27,000 and Gomes calls on the button. Everyone else gets out the way. The flop is queen-high rainbow -- 7h-8d-Qd -- and Drolet bets 45,000. Gomes re-raises to 106,000 and eventually Drolet folds. After some table banter, Gomes is persuaded to show his hand: J-10 off suit or, in another language, air.

1.45pm -- Juan Jose Perez, Argentina, eliminated in seventh place, earning $25,535
Jose Miguel Espinar accounts for another player in a whirlwind start to this final table. Perez opens for 35,000 from under the gun, and Espinar re-raises to 92,000 from the button. Everyone gets out of the way and Perez moves all in for about 160,000. Espinar calls, but is in bad shape with A-Jd against Perez's A-A. But the flop brings hope for the Spaniard, when it comes 10s-2c-Qh. The turn is the case ace, giving a set to Perez, but the king falls on the end, filling Espinar's straight and sending Perez to the rail.

IJ2_0774.jpgJose Miguel Espinar's great form continues

1.35pm -- Paulo Cesar Ribeiro, Brazil, eliminated in eighth place, earning $17,025
Espinar raises again, and again it's 26,000. This time, Paulo Ribeiro bumps it up to 52,000 and Espinar calls. The flop is 6c-Kh-Kd. Ribeiro bets about another 50,000 and Espinar moves all in, which Ribeiro calls. Espinar shows K-Q, Ribeiro shows pocket jacks but he's been outdrawn.

Vanquisher and vanquished. Espinar knocks out Ribeiro

The Brazilian is drawing dead by the turn, and that is that. We've lost our first player.

1.30pm -- Juan Jose Perez waits just one hand before he's moving all in. Alexandre Gomes opens for 27,000 from early position, Perez is all in for a further 128,000. The Team PokerStars Pro, and chip leader, tanks and ... folds.

1.25pm -- Our lone European, Jose Miguel Espinar, from Spain, takes the first pot with a pre-flop raise to 26,000. It's uncontested and he gets off to a winning start.

After a slight delay for the television crew to do what television crews do (record, re-record, record again for luck), play has started in Punta del Este. Here are the players:


We start today with 43 minutes remaining in level 18, where the blinds are 5,000-10,000 (1,000 ante). Cards are in the air. We'll follow it all the way to the end.

Video blogs and interviews from the 2009 PCA

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