LAPT7 Chile: A tough final table bubble; 9 still remain

After a breakneck start to the afternoon that saw 23 eliminations in less than four hours of play, the 24th and final knockout of Day 3 is turning out to be a lot more difficult to come by.

Once the final nine reassembled around a single table, they played an orbit's worth of hands, then came a break before they moved on to Level 25 (15,000/30,000/5,000).

Pino, then Melo survive

Soon after play resumed, a three-way hand developed involving Raul Pino, Mario Lopez, and Jefferson Melo that ultimately saw Pino all in for his last 368,000 with A♣8♥ and only Lopez still in with J♥J♣. The flop came 8♠4♦A♥ to pair Pino twice, and when no jack came among the remaining community cards the Panamanian doubled up.


Raul Pino

After that it was start-of-day leader Jefferson Melo raising from middle position to 65,000, Rodrigo Perez three-betting to 150,000 from the blinds, and Melo calling. The flop then came A♥Q♣9♥, and when Perez shoved Melo called with the 466,000 he had left.

Melo had Q♥7♥ for queens and a flush draw, better than Perez's K♠J♣. The Q♦ fell on the turn to improve Melo to trips, and after the 2♦ river Melo had bumped back up over 1.2 million.

Pita and Lipkin double, while Melo moves up and Ibanez slips

Another all-in player next survived when Guilherme Pita used K♥K♠ to double through Robert Lipkin's Q♠Q♣, a hand that sent Lipkin's stack down below the 400,000-chip mark.

Nearly 45 minutes passed with the nine continuing to battle, and they moved to Level 26 (20,000/40,000/5,000). Then came a hand in which Melo and Johann Ibanez battled to the river, building a pot of 433,000 as the board came 4♣A♣Q♦5♥[10c].

Melo then fired a big bet of 400,000 from his position in the big blind, and Ibanez tanked for some time. He had 812,000 behind, and thought for a long while before calling.

Melo then showed K♣2♣ for the nut flush. Melo moved back up over 2 million to challenge for the lead, while Ibanez was suddenly ninth of nine.

Next Lipkin was on the precipice of elimination, pushing all in for 343,000 from the button with A♦K♠ and getting called by Amos Ben in the small blind with [10d][10s]. But an ace came on the flop and Lipkin's hand held, and on they played.

Ibanez narrowly avoids another LAPT final table bubble

Ibanez next open-raised all in for 292,000 from middle position, and when Lipkin reraise-shoved from the button, the blinds stepped aside.

Ibanez had 7♦5♥ and needed much help versus Lipkin's 9♠9♣. The all-club, non-pairing flop -- 8♣[10c]3♣ -- made the situation even more more desperate for Ibanez. He had to have thought about the last time he'd gotten this far in an LAPT Main Event when he made the nine-handed final table at LAPT6 Peru... and bubbled the official final table in ninth.

But the 7♥ came on the turn... then... the river... the 5♠! Two pair and tourney life for Ibanez, who had to remove his sweatshirt after that hand as he sighed with relief.


Johann Ibanez

They reached the end of Level 26 and the scheduled dinner break, and so now that final table bubble will remain intact for another 75 minutes. Play will resume about 8:40 p.m. local time.

Here are the updated counts going to the break:

Seat 1: Robert Lipkin (Canada) -- 628,000
Seat 2: Amos Ben (Chile) -- 343,000
Seat 3: Raul Pino (Panama) -- 539,000
Seat 4: Guilherme Pita (Brazil) -- 1,727,000
Seat 5: Rodrigo Perez (Chile) -- 2,391,000
Seat 6: Johann Ibanez (Colombia) -- 649,000
Seat 7: Luis Resk (Chile) -- 1,351,000
Seat 8: Mario Lopez (Argentina) -- 1,499,000
Seat 9: Jefferson Melo (Brazil) -- 2,569,000

Photography from LAPT7 Chile by Carlos Monti. Follow live streaming coverage throughout LAPT7 Chile in Spanish at PokerStars or via Facebook as well as in Portuguese, also at PokerStars or via Facebook.

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.