LAPT Nuevo Vallarta: Poker's Queens Building Castles

Female poker players, more often than not, find ourselves as the only girl in the game. Usually comprising about 2% of any given tournament field, we're vastly outnumbered by our male counterparts and typically find ourselves seated at a nine-handed table with eight other gentlemen. Taking a walk through the tournament area today, however, we found a number of tables with two, even three women seated together, many of whom are online qualifiers, flying the PokerStars flag high with their logo-ed caps and jackets. Simply by eyeballing today's field, that 2% mark has surely been passed here in Nuevo Vallarta.

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Shirley Rosario

One veteran pro off to a roaring start is PokerStars player Shirley Rosario. The Los Angeles-based mother of two has already claimed one player's stack at her table within two hands. In the first, she took down a sizeable pot when she picked up pocket queens and a few hands later she finished him off when her K-K and his T-T both flopped sets. Naturally, all the money went in the middle on that flop and Rosario is now sitting pretty with nearly 20,000 in chips.

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Maria "Maridu" Mayrinck

PokerStars player Maria "Maridu" Mayrinck was enjoying the company of another lady at her table-- that is until J.C. Alvarado hit the nuts and claimed her entire stack, sending the Latina beauty to the rail (stunning red patent-leather Louis Vuitton tote in tow) with 22 minutes to go in Level 1. Mayrinck made an excellent run in the 2008 WSOP, cashing three times in NLHE events. In Vegas she also finally met Jon "Apestyles" Van Fleet in person, after chatting with him a number of times online while the two were seated together during the Nightly Hundred Grand tournament. The happy couple has been together ever since and has settled down in Austin, TX. Today, they're sitting only a few tables away from one another.

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Veronica Dabul

Veronica Dabul is another woman to keep an eye on. A former backgammon champion, Dabul made the switch to poker three years ago and cashed in both the 2007 and 2008 WSOP Main Events. An LAPT veteran, the Argentinian finished in 15th place in Punta del Este this past August. Today, she has Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari to contend with at her table.

Helen Prager has also taken a seat in this tournament. Her surname may be familiar to you-- she's married to Josh Prager, who made the final table of the 2007 EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo and finished 16th in the LAPT Costa Rica back in May. Both Pragers qualified online for the LAPT's Nuevo Vallarta stop.

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in Latin American Poker Tour