LAPT Mar del Plata: Nitsche makes quick work of the final table to become youngest-ever LAPT champion
For this Nitsche, God is not dead.
Dominik Nitsche is 18 years old. He is still in high school. Heck, he may have some homework to finish after this. And after playing in his first ever live tournament, he's an LAPT champion. After he knocked out fellow big stack Mark Ioli late on Day 2 to give him a massive chip lead, some of us joked that he could do away with this final table like a one-man wrecking ball. He didn't end up taking out every player, but he did win the most critical hand at the final table, ending up with two-thirds of the chips in play by the time we reached four-handed play. Clocking in at less than four hours of play, it was the fastest final table in LAPT history and perhaps the fastest televised final table we've ever seen.
291 players bought in to the LAPT's Grand Final in Mar del Plata, Argentina. 27 of them came away with a nice chunk of change, the majority of the prize pool handed out to the final nine this afternoon. Here's how they stacked up as the cards went in the air:
Seat 1: Jason Skean (338,000)
Seat 2: Rodolfo Awad (170,000)
Seat 3: Alfons Fenijn (65,000)
Seat 4: Sergio Farias (474,000)
Seat 5: Jose Barbero (181,000)
Seat 6: Dominik Nitsche (817,000)
Seat 7: Jorge Landazuri (428,000)
Seat 8: Leo Fernandez (329,000)
Seat 9: Derek Lerner (151,000)
First to hit the rail was Argentinian native Jose Barbero. On the third hand of play, Sergio Farias opened for 65,000 from the small blind, Jose Barbero moved all in from the big blind and Farias made the call.
The flop came down Q♠T♦5♣, Farias hitting a set of fives, but Barbero still had a ray of hope with an inside straight draw. The 6♦ on the turn made him frown a bit as his supporters cried for a "jota" on the river. It was the 9♠, though sending Barbero home in ninth place.
After Barbero's elimination, Sergio Farias began to turn up the aggression and take control of the table, winning several small pots with well-timed reraises. He'd also end up taking out table short-stack Alfons Fenijn in eighth place. After Fenijn moved all in for 52,000 from under the gun, Farias, seated to his immediate left, made it 130,000 to go and the rest of the table got out of the way. It was Q♠T♥ for Fenijn and J♣J♥ for Farias, the board running out A♥K♥3♦5♣T♦ to send him to the rail in eighth place. After the hand, Farias was up to 750,000 in chips, enough to challenge Dominik Nitsche for the lead.
Derek Lerner created no small amount of controversy at the end of Day 1B. Greatly upset by a ruling made by Tournament Director Mike Ward, Lerner called it the "greatest travesty of his career" and on Day 2 was often found recounting his side of the story to anyone who would listen. Lerner ended up making the final table as the second-shortest stack and would end his run in seventh place. With the action folded to him on the button, Lerner moved all in for his remaining 100,000 and Rodolfo Awad snap-called from the big blind.
The 8♦7♠2♥ flop paired up Lerner, but the Q♣ on the turn left him drawing dead, Awad hitting top set. As the 5♥ landed on the river, Lerner shook his opponent's hand and departed the stage in an (uncharacteristically) quiet manner.
If that wasn't enough rapid-fire action for one level, well, how about a three-way all in?
Dominik Nitsche came in for a standard raise to 42,000. And let's be honest, Nitsche could have just about anything here. He's been known to raise light in the past. Leo Fernandez put on a pretty good show of thinking for an age before announcing he was all-in for 230,000.
So, maybe we'd see a good heads-up all-in battle. That's what we were thinking, anyway, until Segio Farias went deep in the tank. And let's be honest. We've seen Farias over-call with some pretty light hands. Five minutes later, Farias decided....despite his second place chip stack and the chip leader still in the pot...to move all-in for 515,000. Just to make it clear, Nitsche announced, he was all-in--not that he needed to. He had everybody covered. The hands turned over and this is what we saw.
The board gave them a good sweat, but in the end the best hand held up on a 8♦4♥ J♠Q♠6♣ board. After losing 90% of his 10,000 starting stack within the first five minutes of Day 1B, Fernandez remained patient, channelling his inner chess master to come away with a sixth place finish. Having Fernandez out-chipped on the hand, local favorite Sergio Farias took fifth place honors.
It took an unscheduled break to color up and organize Nitsche's mountain of chips after that hand, the German high school student now controlling two-thirds of the chips in play with close to 2 million in his stack. By comparison, Jorge Landazuri, his closest competitor at that point, held 413,000.
Jason Skeans was on the short stack and in need of some chips. The blinds and antes would do, as far as he was concerned.
He moved all-in and got snap-called by Rodolfo Awad's A♣7♠. Skeans only held 2♥ 6♦. The board barely gave them a sweat: 4♥9♦K♦3♠T♦. Awad's hand held up unimproved and Skeans was out in fourth place for $105,840.
It didn't take long before the two shorter stacks at the table tangled in one of the more dramatic hands of the final table. Jorge Landazuri came in for a raise and Rodolfo Awad moved all-in. Landazuri called to see he was way ahead.
The flop was hard to look at 4♦8♣2♥. The turn, the A♣, wasn't any better.
Landazuri put his thumbnail to his teeth and looked like he might just cry.
Then the room exploded as the dealer put the 9♠ on the river.
Landazuri jumped into a crowd of supporters, high-fiving the entire rail as they chanted "Mexico, Mexico, Mexico!" Even in defeat, Awad couldn't help but smile at the 19-year old's good fortune as he departed in third place.
We were prepared for a rumble in the high school cafeteria when it came to our heads-up battle between 18-year old Nitsche and 19-year old Landazuri, but just like our last stop on the LAPT in Punta del Este, Uruguay, heads-up play lasted all of one hand.
On a flop of K♥8♥9♦, Dominik Nitsche bet out 50,000 and Jorge Landazuri raised to 140,000. Nitsche called. On the T♠ turn, Landazuri bet out 150,000 and Nitsche again called. The river drew ooohs and ahhhhs from the crowd. The K♦ drew an all-in from Landazuri and an instant call from Nitsche. It wasn't hard to see why.
Landazuri, here on a PokerStars.net freeroll, won $211,760.
Nitsche picks up both the title and distinction as youngest ever LAPT champion, but also $387,030.
In his post-game interviews, Nitsche said that he's planning on playing in next week's EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo, Monaco. He'll also be postponing his college education for at least two or three years to concentrate on poker. With his win here, it's fair to say he has his tuition covered.
Congratulations to Dominik Nitsche on his stunning victory.
If you missed out on any of the action, have no fear. Check out any of the links below for all the highlights:
For full prize pool and payout information, hit up the LAPT prizes and winners page.
All you multimedia junkies should make sure to visit the PokerStars Blog Media Gallery as well as PokerStars.tv. If Spanish or Portuguese is your native tongue we have complete coverage on the PokerStars Spanish blog as well as the PokerStars Brazilian blog.
For Season 2 of the Latin American Poker Tour, that's a wrap. Good night from Mar del Plata and we hope to see you again next fall when Season 3 kicks off.
All photos © Joe Giron, IMPDI