Latin American poker players are an emotional bunch. It's almost impossible to spend more than a few minutes inside of the tournament room here at the Mantra Resort & Casino without witnessing a wild outburst, hearing a palm slam against the felt in frustration or seeing a fist pumped into the air in victory. While poker phrases like "so sick," "pair the board," and "one time!" are so overused these days they have become cringe-worthy, these words somehow seem all the more dramatic when bellowed en espanol. Even as I type this, some poor man in the next room is shouting "SEIS! SEIS! OH MY GAAAD! SO SEEEEK!" at the top of his lungs after suffering a brutal river suckout.
Welcome to the Latin American Poker Tour, where the sun shines, the breezes are warm, the beef is plentiful and grown men can sound like psychiatric patients when the cards don't fall their way.
64 players returned to action today, 36 would earn prize money and nine would make the televised final table. With a second-chance event running in the main ballroom, the remaining field moved to a smaller adjacent room adorned with camera-friendly lighting and ringed with red curtains. Alberto Font and Oliver Rowe came into Day 2 as the chip leaders, with 135,000 and 136,000 respectively, though only one of them would reach the final table.
Alex Brenes' Day 2 started and ended on the TV featured table. The tournament's third-shortest stack coming into play today, Brenes moved all in for 22,600 from under-the-gun and Magno Aragao made the call from the button. It was a race situation with T♥-T♠ for Brenes and the A♦-J♦ for Aragao. The flop wasK♥-Q♠-7♦, Brenes still leading, but the T♦ on the turn made Aragao an ace-high straight. It also gave Brenes a set and some hope of survival if the board paired on the river, but it blanked out with the 2♥ and Brenes exited stage left. Brenes finished in second place in Season 1's installment of this event, but a final table repeat for him just wasn't in the cards.
Brazilian pro Christian Kruel had been playing a tight, calculated game the entire tournament and seemed a shoo-in to go deep, but he would hit the rail well before the money. Kruel ultimately got his chips in the middle with a monster draw, holding A♥-Q♥ vs. his opponent's pocket kings on a J♠-T♥-8♥ flop. The turn and river blanked out for him, however and his tournament came to an end.
It took four hours of play for us to hit the money bubble, which was burst by Alberto Araujo. Down to less than three big blinds and with the action folded to him, Araujo moved all in from the small blind. It was up to Oliver Rowe in the big blind.
"You have the odds, you have to call!" quipped Araujo, who was already out of his seat in eager anticipation.
Rowe couldn't have liked the 3♦-6♣ he saw, but nevertheless was compelled to call. Araujo turned up K♦-Q♠.
The flop, though, came down J♦-7♣-3♠, pairing up Rowe. The A♦ came on the turn, giving Araujo outs with a king, a queen or a ten, but the river was another three, and Rowe took it down with trips, leaving Araujo as Punta del Este's bubble boy.
Once our remaining 36 players were in the money, the chips really started flying. We lost ten players in the space of an hour, including three who busted on the same hand and ended up splitting the $2,780 difference between 28th and 27th place three ways.
With three tables remaining, a trio of players began taking control of the action and collecting most of the chips. Ron Wasiel, a house painter from suburban Chicago, started flopping two pair like it was nothing. First he cracked Gabriel Loyo's pocket kings with A-Q when the flop came down A-Q-5 to send him to the rail. Only minutes later, Ricardo Goncalves moved his short stack in from the button with A-6 and Wasiel called from the big blind with K-6, the flop coming down K-6-9.
Oliver Rowe took the chip lead early in the day when he opened from UTG for 20,000 only to be met with an all-in reraise to 115,000 from Alberto Font. With 165,000 behind, Rowe made the call for most of his chips and saw his A-K hold up against Font's 9♠-7♠ to vault him over the 300,000 chip mark. He ended the day with 412,000, good for third in chips.
The story of the late evening, though was Karl Hevroy, aka the one-man Norwegian wrecking ball. He of the perfectly messy blonde hair knocked out Walter Arakaki in 20th place when his A-Q flopped trips against pocket fives. Minutes later he did away with 19th place finisher Hernan Reyes, his 7♥-7♣ flopping a set against Reyes' K♥-T♠. 17th place finisher Adolfo Vaeza also hit the rail courtesy of Hevroy, as did Octavio Bernardini (12th), and Alejandro Bonnanato (11th).
On the final table bubble, Hevroy's Houdini-esque powers would give all of us a relatively early night. On the very first deal of hand-for-hand play, Rommer Prado pushed for 120,000 with A♦-J♦ and Hevroy made the call with Q♠-J♥.
"How can you call with that?" asked Prado in Spanish as the board ran out T♣-T♠-2♥-7♦-Q♦. The room exploded and our final table players celebrated around Prado's grief.
Our final nine will return at 2pm local time (EDT+1) tomorrow to crown a new LAPT champion. Here's how their chip counts stack up:
Seat 1: Andre Ventura 103,000
Seat 2: Oliver Rowe 412,000
Seat 3: Bolivar Palacios 167,000
Seat 4: Waldemar Cago 263,000
Seat 5: Karl Hevroy 1,079,000
Seat 6: Magno Aragao 153,000
Seat 7: Angel Guillen 572,000
Seat 8: Alejandro De Arruaballena 397,000
Seat 9: Ron Wasiel 134,000
If you missed any of our live coverage today, click on any of the links below to relive all the action.
Or, if you'd rather read all the gory details in one of South America's native tongues, check out the PokerStars Spanish Blog or the PokerStars Brazilian Blog. And for more details on who finished where, click on the LAPT Punta del Este prizes page.
All photography © Joe Giron, IMPDI