Irony. That's what you could call the fact that only one player hailing from Latin America has won an event (out of the first seven) on the Latin American Poker Tour. The previous events at Punta del Este were dominated by Europeans. In Season 1, a Spaniard named Jose Miguel Espinar won the event. Last year in Season 2, a Norwegian online pro named Karl "Houdini" Hevroy took down the title.
Going into this final table, the chances were extremely high that a Latin player will would the event. The deck was stacked against the Europeans, because only one player, Nicolas Cardyn, called Europe his home. Despite the overwhelming odds, Cardyn was hoping that history was on his side. However, standing in his way were three Argentinians, two Brazilians, one Colombian, and a local player from Uruguay named Norbert Ludger, who began the final table as the chip leader.
Uruguay has a European flair due to their roots dating back to the 1600s. The land mass nestled in between Brazil and Argentina was originally settled in the late 1600s by Spain and Portugal. In the 20th century, the country became a haven for European immigrants from Italy and Germany.
Over the last few decades, Punta del Este transformed into one of the glitziest vacation destinations in the world. The beaches are a popular hotspot for celebrities, models, and football players from neighboring Argentina and Brazil. In addition, some of the richest families in South America have summer homes in Punta del Este, making it one of the highest concentrations of wealth in the Southern hemisphere.
More irony. The strip of land that makes up Punta del Este was originally a series of small fishing villages, before high-rise condos and resorts were constructed in recent years. I couldn't think of a more fitting locale for a poker tournament!
The final table kicked off inside the packed ballroom of the Mantra Casino. Every single seat in the bleachers was filled, mostly with supporters of Jose "Nacho" Barbero. The Brazilians were well-represented, rooting for Daniela Zapiello and Bernardo Dias.
The first two levels of the final table featured a lot of inaction until Roman Suarez found himself all-in against Nacho Barbero. Suarez trailed with A♥5♠ versus Nacho's A♦7♠. Nacho flopped a seven and turned another seven for trips. His hand held up and Suarez was the first player to bust at the final table. Suarez collected $20,850 for 8th place. Nacho seized the chip lead with 1.46 million.
Bernardo Dias from Brazil was an all-in machine at the final table as a short-stack assassin. However, he finally got caught speeding when he shoved with A♥6♠ and Andres Korn called him with pocket sevens. Korn's hand held up and Dias headed to the rail in 7th place. He collected $31,270. That hand propelled Korn to the chip lead with 1.7 million.
Marco Caicedo shoved with a short stack and Nacho Barbero called. Caicedo was ahead with A♠7♥ against Nacho's K♠Q♥. Nacho took the lead on the flop of A♠J♦9♠ and never looked back. He even rivered trip Queens for a bit of an overkill. Caicedo, a resident of Colombia, busted out in 6th place. That hand pushed Nacho over 1.35 million in chips.
Daniela Zapiello busted out in 5th place after losing her stack in consecutive hands. On the first hand, she got it all in with K♠Q♣ against Andres Korn's A♠A♦. She was all-in on the next hand for her last 300,000 in chips with Q♠5♠ against Norbert Ludger's A♦8♦. She took the lead when she flopped a Queen and a flush draw, however Ludger flopped a gutshot straight draw. Norbert got there when the T♥ spiked on the river. Zapiello, the last woman standing n the tournament, collected $52,110 for her 5th place finish. Everyone inside the ballroom gave her a loud ovation for her remarkable feat as she made her exit.
The only final table player from Uruguay, Norbert Ludger, busted out in 4th place. On a board of Q♦4♠2♠4♦ with 1.5 million in the pot, Nicolas Cardyn checked and Ludger shoved for 910,000. Cardyn called with Q♥T♠. He was ahead of Ludger's pocket fives. The river was the 8♦ and Cardyn won the pot to push him over 3.6 million. Ludger won $72,960 for 4th place.
When action was three-handed, Andres Korn shoved all-in for 950,000. Nacho Barbero called with K♣J♠. Korn was dominated and held K♦T♥. The board ran out Q♦5♠2♦6♥8♥ and Nacho's hand held up. Korn hit the rail in 3rd place. He won $99,020.
A heads-up battle was set between Nacho Barbero and Nicolas Cardyn. Nacho was attempting to become only the second Latin player and first Team Pro to win an event on the LAPT. Nacho looked in good shape with the chip lead -- 4.3 million to 1.7 million stack. However, Cardyn's forte is heads-up cash games online at PokerStars. He was not about to give up without a fight.
Nacho failed to deliver a knock out blow and Cardyn doubled up with A♦7♠ against Q♥T♦. Cardyn pulled even in chips and the two continued to tango.
Just when it seemed that Cardyn was about to pull away with a sizable lead, Nacho scored a direct hit with a timely double-up. On a flop of 9♣8♠8♦, Nacho fired out 500,000. Cardyn shoved all-in and Nacho quickly called. Nacho was ahead with 9♥5♠ because Cardyn got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He sheepishly tabled 6♣4♣. However, Nacho had to sweat out the hand when Cardyn turned an open-ended straight draw. Cardyn whiffed on the river and Nacho won the hand. Cardyn slipped to 990,000, while Nacho pushed his stack to over 5.1 million.
The final hand of the tournament was lathered in drama. Cardyn shoved all-in for his last 990,000. Nacho Barbero snap-called with A♠T♠, while Cardyn tabled A♦K♠. Both players stood up to sweat the action. Barbero's friends from Argentina chanted, "Nacho! Nacho! Nacho!"
The flop was 8♥7♣2♦. Cardyn took a deep breath as a couple of Nacho's faithful followers shouted, "Diez! Diez!"
The turn was the 5♣ and Nacho was down to three outs in the deck. The dealer slowly placed the burn card on the table and flipped over the river card.
The T♣ magically appeared.
Nacho thrust his arms in the air after he caught a miraculous card to chase down Cardyn's Big Slick. More chants of "Nacho! Nacho! Nacho!" ensued.
Nicolas Cardyn of France put forth a valiant effort and finished in second place. He collected $161,550 for his efforts.
Team PokerStars Pro Nacho Barbero won $279,330 for first place. Nacho also became only the second Latin player to win an event on the LAPT as he finally thwarted Europe's domination of the LAPT Punta del Este.
For a complete list of players who cashed in this event, check out our prize pool and payout info page.
If you prefer to read about the tournament in Spanish or perhaps Portuguese, then we recommend that you check out the PokerStars Spanish Blog or the PokerStars Brazilian Blog. And don't forget about or video team who was hard at work the last four days getting the inside scoop. Their video blogs can be found on PokerStars.tv.
For a look back at our coverage today, click any of the links below.
LAPT Punta del Este: Day 4, Levels 28 and 29 (40,000-80,000, 10,000 ante)
LAPT Punta del Este: Day 4, Levels 26 and 27 (25,000-50,000, 5,000 ante)
LAPT Punta del Este: Day 4, Levels 24 and 25 (15,000-30,000, 3,000 ante)
LAPT Punta del Este: Final table player profiles
Congrats to Nacho Barbero for taking down his first ever LAPT title. That's it from the LAPT Punta del Este. Good night! Ciao! Boa noite! Buenas noches!