World Cup of Poker: Mexico heads back to finals

As anyone who spends time at the tables on PokerStars knows, poker has seen a surge in popularity throughout Latin America in the last few years. With today's Division Latin America final, eight nations from Central and South America got the shot to prove to the world that they are at the forefront of one of poker's fastest growing regions.

Four players from each of the ten nations - Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela - were in action today to determine who would fly to the Bahamas next month, with each one playing a single table tournament. Only one country could qualify for the live final, so strong performances from as many team members as possible would be the key to victory.

Two of the new kids on the Latin American poker block got off to bad starts that kneecapped their chances of advancing. Peru's team saw two players, crema2005 and ficofico75, go out first on their respective tables; the combined 5 points on their tables from tiburonbig (9th place) and MARWEST (6th) couldn't make up the difference for Peru. For the Colombian team, quick exits from juanferap69 (10th), diegovergara (9th), and alvagodo (9th) balanced out a strong performance from marroca5 (4th) to prevent them from advancing.

Predictably, the heart of the points table consisted of the teams who had a strong performance from one team member along with middle-of-the-pack finishes from the rest. Uruguay, for instance, got a 2nd-place finish from CROSA COLL on table FR2, but no other team member took higher than 5th place. Chile's farra311 also took 2nd place at his table, while his teammates all finished in 4th, 6th, and 10th on their tables. The pick of the litter, though, was Argentina's Crisper; he won his table, but none of his teammates finished higher than 5th place.

Probably the most disappointing finish of the day was for Costa Rica. Home to Team PokerStars Pro Humberto Brenes and his family of poker pros, the tiny Central American nation has had a reputation in the poker world for much longer than most of its neighbors. However, only team member TIJO managed to finish as high as 3rd place; everyone else finished in 5th place or lower. With only 22 points from the four players, Costa Rica will have to hope for some improvement next year.

As the tables began to wind down, three nations had a chance to win. Guatemala had been an unsung poker nation up to now, but three strong performances from sebas23 (2nd), ratsed (3rd) and SPOT1968 (3rd) suggest that the game has a bright future there. Without a win from the other three players, Guatemala needed team member tortumen to finish strong; unfortunately he went out in 8th place.

In the end it was down to Brazil and Mexico. Both countries had a 4th place and a bottom-end finish in their point totals as the other players went deep. On the TLB2 table, Brazil's LICO01 managed to score a win. Mexico responded with a win from Kingeorge63 on TLB1, which meant that the winner of the Latin America Division was decided by the heads-up match on the FR1 table.

Brazil's arielbh trailed Mexico's AntoineMex from the start of the match, but the table wasn't decided immediately. The two traded pots for a while, but after about 15 minutes AntoineMex had gained the upper hand. On the final hand arielbh got all-in on the turn holding a straight draw and two overcards to AntoineMex's lowly pair of deuces, but the river was a blank and Mexico claimed the day with his win.

Team Mexico's dhubermex, Pythomunoz, AntoineMex, and Kingeorge63 will be heading for the balmy Bahamas in January, looking to represent Latin America as well as all the players playing today's Division Final did for their respective countries - and hopefully to repeat their performance and lay claim to the World Cup.

Final standings

Mexico - 50 pts
Brazil - 46 pts
Guatemala - 39 pts
Argentina - 29 pts
Chile - 29 pts
Uruguay - 25 pts
Costa Rica - 22 pts
Venezuela - 21 pts
Colombia - 13 pts
Peru - 5 pts

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in World Cup of Poker