LAPT Florianopolis: Habernig in front for Florian final


Poker arenas can become known for the atmosphere they generate. The feature stage of the Amazon Room for example can send a double-up echo back up the corridor to drown out the Masquerade Show; places like San Remo and Prague rock the EPT with a gladiatorial spirit, usually backed by the home nation or foreigner raiders.

Day three of the LAPT Florianopolis event was played with friendly camaraderie; an unlikely brotherhood joining players in times of ease, but jettisoned when elimination hands meant a walk to the rail and that silent but visible inner scream.

A tense crowd watched every hand from the rail today

It was a lonely task for each of the 36 players returning today, playing down to eight. But while inner screams may be relevant to the eliminated, those victorious today performed some memorable outer screams in their quest for LAPT glory.

Days like these are purpose built for drama. They're the pay-off finales to the lengthy back story, giving the big stacks chance to falter and allow the plucky underdogs through on their way to defeating expectation.

Chip leader Matthias Habernig

But today it was all about the big stacks. It started with Matthias Habernig and ended with Matthias Habernig, who tonight leads the field into day four of LAPT Florianopolis.

Habernig, from Austria, was the day one chip leader two nights ago, relinquishing his advantage on day two but remaining within stalking distance, a regular threat. His calm and controlled exterior belied his 19 years as he struck ruthlessly to acquire the 3,205,000 chips he bagged up tonight. The exact opposite exterior was used by the others to similar, if not the exact same effect.

A home town hero

At times today was like a cross between the series finale of soap opera, and how you'd expect the inexperienced to react when locked into the ring with a bull. There was also a religious theme.

Before busting in 12th, Mario Donoso, who had been struck down to a mere 10,000 at one point yesterday, persisted in chanting "Pass me the salsa!" as he ventured off stage and on stage during his unstoppable payback ride. Pedro Velasco, who departed in the final table bubble in ninth tonight, also took to leaving the set to play hands, watching the action on screen instead from the rail with friends, before leaping around the set attached to an invisible bungee rope after doubling up.

Mario Donoso

Pedro Velasco (left) and friends

Then there was Andre Scaff from Brazil, a solid player who wore the determined look of a man destined to reach the final table using whatever powers he could muster. Scaff won multiple big encounters, each marked by either the raising of a finger towards the sky or by shouting "Son of the king!" or, "thank you my lord." While "I love Jesus," accompanied his last level victory over Miguel Velasco. I'm not clear what the Bible says about this kind of thing, but as one wag pointed out, thanking Jesus implies a degree of collusion that Hoyle could not have seen coming.

Andre Scaff

Scaff will be just one of eight players returning tomorrow, and the final will be better for it. Joining him, there will be the other big guns of today - Dayan Vardenega, Robson Kozan and Rudy Blondeau, each of whom jostled for top spot today and each return with it firmly in their sights.

Also back tomorrow will be the other finalists, who line up as follows:

Final table

Matthias Habernig, Austria, 3,205,000
Andre Scaff, Brazil, 814,000
Dayan Vardenega, Brazil, 761,000
Robson Kozan, Brazil, 598,000
Rudy Blondeau, Canada, 597,000
Miguel Valasco, Colombia, 511,000
Alexandre Richard, Brazil, 435,000
Rodrigo Scartezini, Brazil, 204,000

It was nearly a different story for Jorge Arias today. The Team PokerStars Online Pro busted in 24th after what will go down as a largely unnoticed, yet courageous performance in Brazil, handicapped by having to steer a short stack into the money. It was akin to pole-vaulting into medal position with a length of garden hose or placing in the Belmont onboard a rocking horse. For certain, his R$11,400 was the hardest earned of any this week.

Team PokerStars Online Pro Jorge Arias

Also departing today were the PokerStars qualifiers Regis Kogler and Richard Gui, as well as Homero Ribeiro, Scott Davies and Andre Sa, each of whom, at some point had looked capable of achieving higher honours.

But while tomorrow we could see a reversal of much of today's fortune, the night belongs to Habernig who brought the day to an end by seeing off Velasco, the latest of a long line of college-age kids turning up in lands far from home to ruin a good gentle game of cards among the grownups.

Everything will become clearer tomorrow

That then is all there is from Florianopolis on day three. Read all of this on our Spanish and Portuguese blogs and our thanks go to Carlos Monti for the unrivalled photography on the blog today. Full scores are available on our chip count page and payouts up to now are on the prize winners page.

Play resumes at noon tomorrow on the main stage at the Costa do Santinho resort. Join us then for coverage, from the first hand through to the crowning of a new LAPT champion.