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Sharks are always hungry

Even after the World Series of Poker, I'm hungry for more poker. After the WSOP, I used to stay in the United States for WPTs, but now I have a more familiar feeding ground: Latin America.

Only ten years ago, it was almost impossible to find a game of No-Limit Hold'em in Latin America. Only a handful of people played it in Costa Rica, and only three or four other countries had heard of the game.

The Moneymaker boom and the LAPT changed all of that.

In the few months after the WSOP, I've played in three of the best tournaments Latin America has ever had. In August, I played LAPT Colombia. It was the largest buy-in and prize pool the country had ever seen. This made it very special to play in and even greater to cash in.

I didn't manage to win the title, but I finished 22nd for COP$9,000,000 -- a good snack for a shark.

Then I stopped by Panama in September for LAPT Panama. I've visited Panama before, but never for a poker tournament this size. It was great to go down and see firsthand how big poker is becoming in Latin America.

After that, I played the Punta Cana Poker Classic. It wasn't an LAPT event, but it shows how big poker has become in this corner of the world.

Latin America is a beautiful part of the world and while most of it speaks the same language, each country has its own charm. You have beautiful beaches in Panama, Colombia and Dominican Republic; but when you go to Chile and Argentina you're greeted by enormous mountains, snow, and great wine.

But my favorite country to visit so far has been Peru. The food was great, and I got to spend a lot of time there. I brought my whole family down and took them to see Machu Picchu. I recommend visiting the ruins to anyone who makes it to Peru, even if it's the only thing you do there.

Well, the only thing you do besides the LAPT Grand Final of course.


I'm looking forward to being back to Peru this week to see how much poker has grown there. I've been active in the Latin American poker scene from the beginning and its grown more than I ever thought possible. A cash game with a handful of players has turned into a full circuit with about 200 hardcore players and hundreds more from whatever country we're in.

These tournaments also have more "salsa" than American and European ones. People are more friendly, they're more talkative, and there's a lot more cheering, especially from the Brazilians. The players are also getting better and better every year. I've even seen it happen in my family.

My brothers and I aren't the only threats at the poker table anymore. Our shiver of sharks has grown a bit. Both of my sons play online and have made it to a few LAPTs, but they're currently taking a break while they're in college.

My nephew, though, Eric Brenes, has been doing fairly well on the poker scene. He's learned a bit from his father and me, but most of his game is his own. In total, there are about 20 of us in the Brenes family that know our way around the poker table.

Pretty soon we might have to have a Brenes-only sit-&-go to find out who the top shark is. Until then, I'll keep the title and try to add an LAPT championship to the list.

See you at the tables.

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