LAPT Punta del Este: Where South America feels like St. Tropez
Telling someone you're heading to Uruguay for a poker tournament is bound to draw a few puzzled looks. It certainly did for us.
"They have casinos in Uruguay? Casinos with poker?" our friend incredulously inquired.
Oh, how they do. And for those of us who travel the Latin American Poker Tour, it's our third trip to the sun-drenched coast of Punta del Este.
The ninety-minute ride from Montevideo Airport to the woodsy enclave of "La Barra" takes one through an endless landscape of lush, green farmland. Spindly pine trees dot the side of the road next to simple adobe-roofed houses. Cattle and horses graze only a few yards from the highway that cuts through these rolling hills, as the small dwellings and roadside stands give way to stately brick mansions and modern high-rise condos. Punta del Este is a summer hideaway for the well-to-do from neighboring Argentina and Brazil and has a European flair that reacalls St. Tropez or Monte Carlo. The sky is clear, summer is in full bloom, and it's quite tempting to simply disappear onto the beach for the entire week. However, there is some serious money to be won here beginning tomorrow afternoon.
Last season, 20-year old Karl Hevroy took $283,500 back to Norway after a thrilling final table. This year, we expect more than 300 Team PokerStars Pros, online qualifiers, and local enthusiasts to take to the felt in pursuit of their own LAPT title.
Our host venue, the Mantra Resort & Casino, is one of the most luxurious properties you'll encounter on any poker tour. With the sun shining and the temperature in the mid-seventies, the piscina looked especially inviting.
Swimming, however will have to wait as we're about to head into downtown Punta for one of PokerStars' legendary welcome parties. Tomorrow morning, hopefully after a bit of sleep, we'll be back at the Mantra at noon local time (EST+3) for all the Day 1 action. We'll be bringing you wall-to-wall coverage until a new champion is crowned on Saturday night.
We do hope you'll join us. But for now, the light is fading and it's time to grab a Patricia.