LAPT Rosario: PokerStars qualifier Martin Sansour wins Grand Final

lapt-promo.gif by Brad Willis and Change100

The road to Argentina is the road to the end of the world. Drive far enough down its coasts and through its mountains, and you might just fall off the planet. Oh, sure, there is a greater chance you'll just get frostbite on the South Pole, but frankly, there's not much reason to go that far anyway. Argentina is a fantastic place to set up camp, eat some of the best beef in the world, and sip on a Quilmes or two. People have been doing that for years, making this country among the most multi-cultural and interesting on the Latin American Poker Tour.

If not really the end of the world, Argentina does mark the end of Season 3. After a region-wide tour that took players to five different countries, the season ended here tonight with Peruvian PokerStars qualifier Martin Sansour emerging as one of the biggest single-tournament winners in LAPT history. After besting a field of more than 250 players, Sansour took the Grand Final trophy and beat his biggest-ever live cash by more than $300,000. It was a feat he achieved with a combination of skill and superstition. The skill was evident in the elimination of all but one of the final table players. The superstition? He refused to give any interviews to the media until he'd won. When he was finished, he proudly said to the crowd, "I am very happy. The next tournament, I'll be there."


Martin Sansour, LAPT Grand Final champion

Held at South America's biggest and most luxurious gaming spot, City Center Casino in Rosario, the Grand Final hosted 254 players from around the world. They competed for a prize pool worth $1,176,200 and a first prize of $322,280. Only eight of those players had a chance at the biggest money.

LAPT Grand Final final table

One of the top stories heading into the final table was that of Nico Fierro, the young Chilean who spent most of the first two days of the Grand Final as the chip leader. Even after he stumbled a bit on Day 2, he managed to rally to a final table finish on Day 3. Just minutes after the final table began, with the blinds at 10,000/20,000/2,000, Fierro came in for a simple raise to 50,000. He had 350,000 behind, a decent stack no matter who is sitting behind it. Martin Sansour wasn't afraid and pushed all-in for enough to cover the Chilean. Fierro made the easy snap-call with A♣A♦.

It was a cooler, by any definition. Sansour held K♥K♦.

If Fierro's hand held, he would be in contention for the chip lead once again, something he hadn't held since mid-day on Day 2. If the suckout came, Fierro would be gone. The flop, T♥Q♠J♦, was about as ugly as it could be without containing a king. Sansour's outs jumped from two to six. Fate and all its ugly friends were playing with Fierro's heart.

It could be argued that the turn made it worse. The 5♥ gave Fierro hope, and that was just mean, because about five seconds later the 9♥ hit the river. Fierro, the man who could've gone wire to wire, was gone in eighth place for $25,880.


Nico Fierro, 8th place

Ivan Saul came into the final table with the shortest stack and a lot of hope. It was with that hope and his sub-200,000 stack that he opened for 70,000 and then called a three-bet to 150,000 from Martin Sansour. Saul barely had anything left when the flop came out 6♣5♦2♠. Saul tossed in the detritus and got the easy call from Sansour. Saul held the overs with the A♣T♣. Sansour had the overpair with 8♠8♥. The turn and river were no help and Saul was gone in seventh place for $37,640.


Ivan Saul, 7th place

Matthias Habernig was set to secure his place in history alongside Team PokerStars Pro Nacho Barbero. Barbero won two of the five Season 3 LAPT events. Habernig already had one under his belt after taking down LAPT Florianopolis. His final table finish here gave him the chance to match Barbero's feat. It was, however, not to be.

Play folded around to Habernig in the small blind. He was getting short and tried to pick up the blinds and antes with a Q♥3♥ shove. Sansour looked him up in the big blind with A♠7♦. The flop, A♣K♥K♠, all but sealed it. The 9♥ on the turn gave him some runner-runner hope, but it didn't happen.

Habernig was denied his chance at a second title and instead takes home $49,400 for sixth place.


Matthis Habernig, 6th place

With Habernig gone, the table was set for a brand new LAPT champion, and the two players with the best chance for it were Martin Sansour and Roberto Bianchi. They sat respectively at #1 and #2 in chips. So, when the next hand developed, most of the crowd was left with its jaw hanging on the floor.

Sansour came in for a raise and got a called from Bianchi in the blinds. Bianchi check-called a 70,000 bet on the Q♥J♣8♣ flop, and then a 100,000 bet on the 6♠ turn. The Q♠ on the river might have been a scare card for Sansour. Bianchi obviously hoped so when he shoved in the rest of his chips. Sansour's snap-call showed he wasn't scared. He had 9♦T♠ for the flopped nut straight. Bianchi, the man who started the day with a formidable chip lead, was gone. He earned $61,160. Meanwhile, Sansour moved over the three million chip mark--more than half of what remained on the table.


Roberto Bianchi

After Bianchi was gone, play slowed to a crawl. Daniel Ades managed to triple up and then double up again. Then the players were sent on a long break. What had been flying like mercury on an ice rink slowed down to nothing. Finally it fell to William Ross to re-ignite the game.

Down to less than 10 big blinds, Ross began a push-and-pick-it-up campaign. It worked for a bit, but never enough to aid him in getting traction. Finally, first to act, he moved all-in again. Martin Sansour sat on the button and thought for a good long while before calling with A♠2♦. Ross had the piddly Q♣4♣. The flop was inconsequential, bringing 7♠K♠3♥. Then came the exciting turn: Q♠. Suddenly, Ross was back in front. Sansour had all the spades and remaining aces left in the deck. He got the A♦ on the river. With that, Ross, a PokerStars Supernova Elite who bought in with Frequent Player Points, picked up $84,690 for his fourth place finish.


William Ross, fourth place

With Ross gone, the conservative Daniel Ades knew he couldn't wait much longer. He finally decided to make his move with J♣7♣. His timing could not have been worse. When Bolivar Palacios raised from the button, Ades moved all-in. Palacios made the quick call with A♣K♣. Ades found no love on the 4♣2♠6♠4♠K♣ board. His third place finish earned him $115,270.


Daniel Ades, third place

When heads-up play began, Sansour had a 3,505,000 to 1,575,000 chip lead over Palacios. Both solid players, the men could have dragged out the heads-up match for a long time. The dealer took care of that. On the second hand of one-on-one play, Palacios looked down at A♦Q♣. Sansour held A♣K♣. The chips all went in before the flop. Sansour locked it up with a king on the flop and Palacios was gone in second place for $188,200.


Bolivar Palacios, second place

Season 3 of the LAPT took players all over the region. Canadian Amer Sulaiman won the season's first event in Playa Conchal, Costa Rica. The event scheduled for Chile was canceled due to the devastating earthquake in the country. After that, the season belonged to Nacho Barbero, a Team PokerStars Pro from Argentina. Barbero became the first player on the LAPT to win back-to-back titles. He walked away with the championships in Punta del Este, Uruguay and Lima, Peru. Barbero said of his achievement, "I know it's going to change my career as a poker player."

Matthias Habernig tried to do the exact same thing. He won the event in Florianopolis, Brazil and then nearly repeated here in Rosario.

Now we have a brand new champion to close out Season 3 and big promises from LAPT President David Carrion. He's already talking about Season 4 which should take us back to Costa Rica, the Bahamas, Uruguay, Peru, Chile, and Argentina. Not only that, but it's possible the LAPT could go back to Brazil in Season 4, not once, but twice.

For now, though, it's time to celebrate the achievement of our Grand Final champion, Peru's Martin Sansour. His biggest live win before tonight was just a little more than $10,000. Now he is more than $300,000 richer and goes back to Peru as a champion.


Thanks for joining us on this season of the LAPT. Keep your eyes open for some big announcements in the coming weeks. We'll see you on tour in Season 4.

Be sure to check out the PokerStars Latin American Blog for Spanish coverage and the LAPT Rosario prizes and winners page for a list of everyone who cashed.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in Latin American Poker Tour