LAPT Punta del Este: Pandemonium in Punta
A wise man once said, when a room is packed to the rafters, it's good to have an escalator.* Fortunately, the Mantra Resort and Casino has several.
The buy-in for the second season in Punta del Este went up this year to $3,700. Most folks here expected the field to be significantly smaller than last year. Suffice it to say, the crowd of 327 players was a pleasant surprise for everybody. We can't say it enough: even in a tough economy, the LAPT seems to be recession-proof. The players who made it through the day are playing for their share of a $1.1 million prize pool.
Fortunately for everybody involved, the tournament organizers had room for everybody. It took putting a few tables up the escalator in the main casino, but everybody who wanted a seat got one. That was when the carnage began. People screamed. Chairs flew in the air and landed on tables. Somebody cooked a lot of steak. Somewhere, a feral dog barked. It was yet another day on the Latin American Poker Tour.
Today's field was packed with some of the biggest names on the tour: Andre Akkari, Humberto Brenes, Dennis Phillips, Greg Raymer, J. C. Alvarado, Victor Ramdin, Fabian Ortiz, Leo Fernandez, Veronica Dabul, Christian De Leon, Maria 'maridu' Mayrinck, Gualter Salles, and Max and Maria Stern.
To give you some idea of how crazy the day was...none of the people listed above have any chips.
Only 36 people will walk away with money. At this point, the most likely person to see a decent chunk of that money is Canada's Oliver Rowe. The PokerStars qualifier made a late surge tonight to 136,000, good for the chip lead going into Day 2. The twenty-six year old from Vancouver plays poker for a living. His recent live tournament experience includes the World Series Main Event and a stop on the APPT.
Spain's Alberto Font went on a huge tear after the dinner break tonight and finished just behind Rowe with 135,000. To date, Font's biggest cashes come from a 441st place finish at the World Series and a final table in a side event at the 2009 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Now, he's among the top ten in chips.
PokerStars qualifier Ron Wasiel spent a good portion of the night near the top of the leaderboard.The painter from the 'burbs of Chicago is only playing his second big live event of his life. Normally a $10 re-buy player on PokerStars, Wasiel qualified for this event through a $10 3x chance event on PokerStars.
For a look at some selected stacks from the field, be sure to see our LAPT Punta del Este chip counts page. Once we have the official counts from the tournament staff, we'll post them in the same place.
To get a look at what the final 36 players will get paid, see the LAPT Punta del Este prizes and winners page.
If you've failed to notice by this point, we've been posting a ton of great videos from the PokerStars Video Blog team. You can go back and take a look at those at PokerStars.tv.
Finally, if you'd like to look back at all the coverage from the day (and we really hope you do), click on any of the links below.
In the meantime, we're headed to bed where we plan to dream of steak and a day where no chairs take flight. We'll be back here at noon local time on Thursday.
Monte Carlo in South America
Three days in the sunshine
There was a party?
A star-studded field in the Southern Hemisphere
Our kingdom for a cattle prod
Your turn, honey
Day 1 thrugh a lens
Speed in a can
The fall and rise of Victor Ramdin
The Back 40
Phillips down (speed kills?)
A million in play
A long way from Uppsala
Song of the serial satellite winner
Farewell to the FossilMan
Steak in the air
Where we stand
The quiet man
Painting the town yellow
Ramdin, Akkari eliminated in one-two punch
Hard to read Font
The Silent Assassin
All photography © Joe Giron/IMPDI
*We actually have no record of any wise men ever saying this. We feel pretty confident somebody said it at some point, and chances are he was pretty smart.