LAPT Vina del Mar: Damian Salas leads final nine after marathon session

If Day 1 of the LAPT Vina del Mar was marked by action, speed, and players' complete and utter willingness to get in there and gamble, Day 2 was its polar opposite. It took a 15-hour session to whittle the field from 63 players down to the nine who will return tomorrow afternoon to play for an LAPT title, its midway point marked by a seemingly endless bubble that took 90 minutes of play, a 90-minute dinner break, and then another 45 minutes to burst.

Damian Salas seized the chip lead early in the day and never had to look back. After taking massive pots off Nicolas Perez and Alex Manzano, Salas' stack soared past the 200,000 mark before most of his opponents could crack the six-figures.

Alexandre Gomes, the lone remaining Team PokerStars Pro in the field, met his tournament end on one of the day's more dramatic hands-- a four-way all-in where his A-Q ended up competing with A-6, Q-Q, and K-K for a monster pot. The kings held, however, and Gomes was gone.

Though there were five women among the Day 2 survivors, they all began to fall one by one. Shirley Rosario suffered two horrific beats when her A-K fell to A-8 and her Q-Q to A-7. Melina Villegas missed the money by about a dozen spots and Veronica Dabul exited with only 31 players remaining.

We reached the bubble at 5:43 p.m. and it wouldn't burst for nearly four hours. Though this field had demonstrated a propensity to gamble up until then, all signs of that went out the window once the cold hard cash was in sight. Though Tournament Director Mike Ward hoped to send the field on dinner break once they were all in the money, it became glaringly apparent that it wasn't happening anytime soon, and he declared it chow time at the conclusion of Level 14. Once everyone returned it took another 45 minutes of play before Samar Hodali became our 28th place finisher. All in for only a bit more than one big blind, she received five callers on the hand, her A-T ultimately falling to K-Q after a king hit the flop.

Though the bubble was long and painful for everyone in the room (perhaps with the exception of the big stacks who stole blinds with abandon) the story of the day had to be "Chiquitita." Chilean native Jyries Aguad Saba was crippled to only 3,000 in chips when Lander Aleman spiked a three-outer on the river, but he managed to double up when his lowly 9-3 flopped trips a few hands later. Then he doubled again. And again. And again, each time crying "CHIQUITITA!" at the top of his lungs as the board cards came down. Saba rode his wave of good luck all the way to the final table, where he'll go into play with 208,000.

Once the bubble burst, it took less than an hour to go from 27 players to 18. Our last woman standing, Maria Stern, was eliminated in 19th place, taking us down to two tables. Going from 18 to 9 would be an entirely different story, the day finally coming to an end just after 3:00 a.m. local time, when Carter Phillips became the final table bubble boy.

Our final nine will return tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. Here's how their chip counts stack up:

Damian Andres Salas--412,000
Fabian Ortiz--347,000
Leandro Balotin--339,000
Fabio Escobar--300,000
Jyries Awad--208,000
Eduardo Camia--198,000
Jaime Ateneloff--128,000
Vincenzo Giannelli--122,000
Hernan Villa --107,000

Today was quite the marathon, so if you missed any of the action, here's a look back at our Day 2 coverage.

Level 10 live updates
Level 11 live updates
Level 12 live updates
Level 13 live updates
Level 14 live updates
Level 15 live updates
Level 16 live updates
Level 17 live updates
Level 18 live updates
Level 19 live updates

You can also check out who finished where on our LAPT Vina del Mar prizes page. And though we Yanks need a whole lot more time with our Rosetta Stone software before we'd dare write in the local language, check out the PokerStars Spanish blog for full coverage en espanol.

All photos © Joe Giron/IMPDI

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in Latin American Poker Tour