LAPT Playa Conchal: Sulaiman bests Bergren for title


When Amer Sulaiman boarded an airplane from Toronto to Costa Rica, he never expected to return home with an extra $172,095 in his pocket, let alone an LAPT title. The 45-year old Iraqi-born Canadian resident came to Playa Conchal for a vacation with his girlfriend, but at the last minute, decided to play the tournament. We're pretty sure neither of them are regretting his decision to stay off the beach and in the poker room, as he just became the first Canadian to win an LAPT title.

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The LAPT Playa Conchal final table

It took a bit over an hour for the final table to lose its first player. Patrick De Koster moved all-in pre-flop and Eric Levesque called from the small blind, turning up Q♠Q♥ to De Koster's A♦7♥. Although the Dutchman paired his kicker on the 9♠7♦5♠ flop, he couldn't find any help on the turn or river which fell the J♥ and the K♠, sending him home in eighth place.


Carlos Giron did his best to try and chip up during the first two levels of play, but he couldn't get anything going. Down to 241,000, he moved all in from the hijack seat and Sol Bergren looked him up from the big blind. Giron was ahead with A♥9♠ against Bergren's Q♣J♣ but saw his hopes of an LAPT title dashed when the board ran out T♠Q♦6♣T♦5♦, making Bergren two pair. For his seventh-place finish, Giron took $20,098 back to Guatemala.


On the very next deal, Darren Keyes decided to make a stand, shoving for 371,000 from the button. Amer Sulaiman moved all-in from the small blind, having him well-covered. Sol Bergren ducked out of the way from the big blind and the cards went on their backs.

Keyes: A♥7♥
Sulaiman: A♠K♦

Keyes cracked a tiny smile when the flop came down 8♦7♦6♣, pairing his kicker, but the K♣ spiked on the river, taking him out in sixth place for $26,380.


Darren Keyes shakes hands with Amer Sulaiman following his elimination

Five-handed play went on for well over an hour before a short-stacked Francis-Nicolas Bouchard moved all-in from under-the-gun. Everyone folded to Amer Sulaiman in the big blind. Ever the gentleman, Sulaiman stood up from his chair and extended his arm across the table, offering Bouchard a handshake as he said "I call."

Sulaiman turned up A♥A♠. Bouchard was in bad shape with the K♥9♠ and although the K♠J♠T♣ flop game him a ray of hope, he couldn't catch up on the turn or river, which fell the 6♦ and the A♦. Sulaiman dragged the pot and took the chip lead with 2.4 million while Bouchard exited in fifth place, earning $32,660. Not bad for his first live tournament.


Once Bouchard hit the rail, the pace of play picked up considerably. Ten minutes later, Sol Bergren opened for 120,000 and was met with a three-bet from Eric Levesque for 700,000. Bergren decided to go with his hand and moved all-in, earning a quick call.

Our two Canadians were in a race situation, Bergren's 8♦8♣ up against Levesque's A♣Q♦. Levesque's rowdy, cerveza-fueled railbirds began screaming for an ace or a queen, but their man could not improve his hand, the board running out J♥5♦4♠3♣7♥ to end his tournament in fourth place. He earned $45,221 for his finish.


The dust had hardly settled from Levesque's elimination when there was another all-in, Rogelio Pardo all-in with A♣3♠ against Sol Bergren's pocket fives. THe K♣6♣8♦ flop favored Bergren and though Pardo picked up a flush draw on the turn with the 4♣, the river fell the 5♥, Bergren scoring the KO with a set. Pardo exited in third place to a hearty round of applause from his Costa Rican brethren, earning $61,551.


Pardo's elimination left us with a Canuck-on-Canuck heads-up battle. Here's how the chip counts looked as their match began:

Amer Sulaiman: 2,803,000
Sol Bergren: 2,200,000


Heads-up action begins

With stacks that large relative to the blinds (30,000-60,000/5,000) we knew we were in for a long haul when it came to heads-up play. Although Bergren had played a very aggressive style at the final table up until this point, he changed gears and slowed down, taking a much more passive approach in his match with Sulaiman. By the end of the first hour of heads-up play, Sulaiman had ground his stack up to 3.4 million to Bergren's 1.6 million.


Sol Bergren smiles in the face of his chip disadvantage

Bergren, however couldn't seem to find any momentum. If he flopped a pair, Sulaiman would river a straight. Down to less than eight big blinds, Bergren at last got his chips in the middle with 6♠7♠ only to find his hand dominated by Sulaiman's T♦7♥. The T♥5♠4♣ gave Sulaiman top pair, but Bergren picked up an open-ended straight draw. The crowd held their breath as the dealer burned and turned the A♣-- no help to either player. And when the Q♥ hit the river, the LAPT had its first Canadian champion. He'll take $172,095 back to the Great White North.


Congratulations to LAPT Playa Conchal champion Amer Sulaiman

For a look at how all our cash finishers placed, head over to the LAPT prize pool and winners page. To check out the coverage in Spanish, hit up We only know how to say "Bon dia" and "cerveja" in Portuguese, but our Brazilian bloggers have you covered at PokerStarsBlog/br.

If you missed any of the action, here's a look back at all four days of the LAPT Playa Conchal.

Day 1 wrap
Levels 9 and 10
Levels 11 and 12
Levels 13 and 14
Day 2 wrap
Level 15 and 16
Levels 17 and 18
Levels 19 and 20
Level 21 and 22
Day 3 wrap
Level 21 and 22 (continued)
Levels 23 and 24
Levels 25 and 26
Heads-up updates

For all of us at the PokerStars Blog, that's a wrap. Our next stop on the Latin American Poker tour will come in February, when we return to Punta del Este, Uruguay. Until then, buenos noches, y buena suerte from Playa Conchal.

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in Latin American Poker Tour