LAPT7 Chile: Jefferson Melo carries chip lead to final table

A lightning-quick start to Day 3 in the Grand Ballroom of the Enjoy Viña del Mar Casino and Resort made it appear a short day was in the cards. But after 23 of the 32 who began the day fell in less than four hours, it would take another three hours' worth of poker for one more to fall.

When that long-delayed event finally occurred, there was Jefferson Melo of Brazil again, flexing his muscles atop the chip counts one more time. He'll carry the chip lead to tomorrow's final table. Something tells us he can handle it.


Jefferson Melo

The day began with the focus on a couple of Brazilians -- the chip leader Melo with more than 1 million, and the last remaining Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari who returned to the shortest stack of anyone in 32nd position of 32. Alas for Akkari, he survived a few others' eliminations before finally being ousted himself early on in 29th.


Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari

The knockouts proceeded quickly thereafter, including a couple of wild ones eliminating Miguel Zarzar of Chile (27th) and end-of-Day-1A leader Fernando Mazzeo of Argentina (26th), and more soon followed them to the rail including Oded Minond (22nd).

As the field shrunk under 20 players just a couple had a shot at tying Team PokerStars Pro Nacho Barbero's nearly-four-year-old record of winning two LAPT Main Event titles.

One was Victor Sbrissa, winner of LAPT6 Brazil, but his run ended in 19th.


Victor Sbrissa

The other was last year's LAPT Chile champion Pablo Tavitian, though he fell, too, in 16th after battling gamely.


Pedro Tavitian

Meanwhile Mario Lopez of Argentina and Rodrigo Perez of Chile began tangling for the lead while Melo finally slid back to the pack. More eliminations rapidly followed, including Pedro Padilha (15th), Luis Lepori (14th), Rafael Pardo (13th), Thein Doan (12th), Walid Mubarak (11th), and Pedro Dib (10th).

After that spate of knockouts, the not-quite-final final table was assembled, with Perez and Lopez still the big stacks.


Rodrigo Perez

Things slowed considerably from there with the final table bubble lasting more than two hours before dinner, then another 45 minutes afterwards. Practically everyone among the nine found himself at risk at one time or another, but it was Amos Ben of Chile who finally fell in ninth, and the final table was set.


Amos Ben

Here's what the counts looked like to end play, along with the seating assignments for tomorrow's final table:

Seat 1: Robert Lipkin (Canada) -- 1,265,000
Seat 2: Raul Pino (Panama) -- 535,000
Seat 3: Guilherme Pita (Brazil) -- 980,000
Seat 4: Rodrigo Perez (Chile) -- 2,075,000
Seat 5: Johann Ibanez (Colombia) -- 725,000
Seat 6: Luis Resk (Chile) -- 1,195,000
Seat 7: Mario Lopez (Argentina) -- 1,440,000
Seat 8: Jefferson Melo (Brazil) -- 3,600,000

Will Melo -- a.k.a. "GoiaBa" -- lead to end tomorrow's final day as well? We'll be back at noon tomorrow to find out. Come back then, too, and together we'll discover who will be the next LAPT champion.

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.