LAPT Playa Conchal: Levesque leads final 30

lapt-promo.gifRob Woodcock probably went to bed last night dreaming of a repeat final table appearance here in Costa Rica, and going into Day 2 with 147,600 in chips, it wasn't too remote a fantasy. Woodcock pulled off the rare feat of ending Day 1 as the chip leader here in Playa Conchal just as he did last season in San Jose. However, after taking his seat today, his tournament lasted only another 85 minutes. Within the first half an hour Woodcock lost half his stack to Steven Merriweather, relinquishing chip leader honors to the 24-year old from West Virginia, then saw the rest of it evaporate when he ran his A♠Q♦ into Francis-Nicolas Bouchard's pocket kings.

Woodcock was among the 119 players that returned to play Day 2 of the LAPT Playa Conchal. 40 of them would walk away with at least some cash in their pockets, 30 of them returning tomorrow to play down to the final table.

All but one of the Team PokerStars Pros that started this event yesterday returned to play Day 2, but only Maria "maridu" Mayrinck and Alexandre Gomes survived to make the money. Humberto Brenes exited during the early going, as did Victor Ramdin who went out on a brutal beat. Ramdin flopped the nut flush against a set, but his opponent hit runner-runner sevens to fill up and send him to the rail.

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Victor Ramdin

Other Team Pros finishing short of the money included Andre Akkari, Leo Fernandez, J.C. Alvarado, Angel Guillen, Christian de Leon and Gualter Salles.

If there was an award for the liveliest character in the room today, Rory Graham would win in a landslide. The Costa Rica-based American could be heard bellowing from across the room when he scored a key double-up, his pocket aces holding up against pocket jacks.

"SHIP IT! SHIP IT! Every last ficha, SEND IT!" he screamed. "I was quiet before," he said. "But you can't wake up a crazy man. I'm awake now!"

The self-proclaimed lunatic built up a six-figure stack in the early evening, but ended the day on 72,300 in chips.

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Rory "A.J." Graham

Fred Dykes played at Graham's table yesterday and at one point was down to only 3,000 in chips. Today was a different story for the online qualifier from Arkansas, who ran his stack all the way past 300,000 this afternoon, putting him among the top five in chips.

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Fred Dykes

Dykes and Steven Merrifield traded the chip lead for most of the afternoon until the largest pot of the tournament thus far unfolded. On a flop of A♠J♥7♥, Costa Rica's Rogelio Pardo check-raised his opponent's lead bet only to be met with an all-in reraise. Pardo called in a shot, having flopped top set with A-A. Up against K♥8♥, he needed to fade a heart that didn't pair the board, the turn and river falling the 4♦ and the J♠ to make him the nut boat, eliminating his opponent. With that pot, Pardo's stack rocketed up to the 370,000 mark and he claimed the chip lead with 47 players remaining.

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Rogelio Pardo

It took over an hour to go from 41 players to 40, Canada's Brad Stebeleski earning the dubious title of "bubble boy" or as they say en espanol "burbuja." Bolivia's Gustavo Robles Justiniano was all-in for half an ante from the button while Stebeleski was all-in for less than a whole small blind. The big blind checked his option and the hands were revealed.

Big blind: K♦5♠
Justiniano: J♦[7♠
Stebeleski: A♠4♠

The flop came down 3♣5♦9♥ as a crowd of spectators surged around the table. The big blind paired his five while Justiniano and Stebeleski were both in imminent danger. In a stroke of magic for Justiniano, the 7♦ hit the turn, giving him the lead. The river was the 9♠ and Justiniano survived, while Stebeleski bubbled.

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Heartbreak on the bubble for Brad Stebeleski

It didn't take long to go from five tables to four, and with 33 players remaining, three went out on the final hand, leaving us with 30 players who will return tomorrow for Day 3. PokerStars qualifier Eric Levesque leads the pack with 420,000 in chips, with Eduardo Hernandez (382,300), Fred Dykes (330,000), and Rogelio Pardo (319,400) close behind.

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Day 2 chip leader Eric Levesque

Our 30 remaining players are all guaranteed at least a $4,082 payday for their efforts, with the champion taking home $172,095. For a look at the complete payout schedule, check out the LAPT Playa Conchal prize structure and winners page.

We've been tracking a selected number of players today and their chip counts are available on the LAPT chip counts page. Official counts from all our 30 remaining players will be posted there as soon as they become available.

If your Spanish is better than ours and you'd like to read the coverage in Costa Rica's native tongue, look no further than PokerStarsBlog.la. If Portuguese is more your speed, our brilliant Brazilian blogger Sergio has all the skinny for you over at PokerStarsBlog/br. If you're all for sticking with the English language, here's a look back at our Day 2 coverage:

Level 15 and 16 updates
Level 13 and 14 updates
Level 11 and 12 updates
Level 9 and 10 updates

Cards will be back in the air tomorrow at 12:00 pm Central Time and we'll play down to a final table of eight. We'd love for you to join us again. Until then, buenas noches from Playa Conchal.

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in Latin American Poker Tour