LAPT7 Chile: Meet the final eight
The final table is here! Finally. After 32 players swiftly whittled down to just nine yesterday, it would take three hours more of play -- plus a dinner break in between -- for the Season 6 Latin American Poker Tour Player of the Year Amos Ben to fall in ninth, setting the stage for today's finale.
It started on Wednesday with 609 entries ultimately forming the field for the first Main Event of Season7 of the LAPT here in Viña del Mar, Chile. Players from 31 different nationalities comprised the field, with Chile (240), Argentina (118), Brazil (94), and Colombia (30) the best represented.
Chile has a couple of players still with hopes of snaring the win for the home country, as does Brazil. Let's go around the table and meet all eight players who made this first Main Event final table of LAPT7.
Seat 1: Robert Lipkin (1,265,000)
The lone North Americano at the final table, the Chicago-based Lipkin travels to Canada to play on PokerStars as "PlayaPlz" where he won the Sunday Warm-Up a little less than a year ago.
The 28-year-old has collected 16 cashes at the WSOP since 2007 in no-limit hold'em and Omaha hi/lo events, including making a final table in 2008 in a $1,500 pot-limit hold'em event in which he finished fourth out of 713. When he's not at the tables, he likes to play basketball as suggested by the Bulls jersey he's been sporting.
Seat 2: Raul Pino (535,000)
Hailing from Panama City, Panama, Pino is a 28-year-old poker pro who has enjoyed success before on the LAPT, including a runner-up finish at LAPT4 Peru and a sixth-place at LAPT6 Panama last fall. Pino enjoys football in his spare time.
Seat 3: Guilherme Pita (980,000)
A native of Recife, Brazil, Pita first began playing poker in 2006 and picked up an 11th-place finish in the 2013 Brazilian Series of Poker (BSOP) last July. The 32-year-old enjoys football and horses, and is hoping to make it to heads-up today against his countryman, Jefferson Melo.
Seat 4: Rodrigo Perez (2,075,000)
A 38-year-old commercial engineer from Chile, Perez has been playing poker for about eight years, having previously made appearances at LAPT events and elsewhere, having collected a few cashes in preliminary events as well as a 35th-place finish and cash at LAPT4 Brazil.
Perez cites his poker buddies as his biggest influences in the game, and he, too, would like to make it to heads-up against a countryman, Luis Resk.
Seat 5: Johann Ibanez (725,000)
A 23-year-old poker pro frm Velledupar, Colombia, Ibanez stared playing poker about three years ago and has enjoyed being able to travel and experience other cultures to play. He's had success on the LAPT before, with today marking his first LAPT Main Event final table. He bubbled the LAPT6 Peru final table, finishing ninth, and narrowly avoided a similar fate here yesterday in a hand against Melo. He also has an eighth-place finish in the High Roller event at the BSOP Millions to his credit.
Seat 6: Luis Resk (1,195,000)
Originally from Copiapo, Chile, Resk has been playing poker both live and online for about four years, and when he's not playing he's often enjoying his other favorite pastime, fishing. He's improving on a 16th-place finish at LAPT4 Chile.
Seat 7: Mario Lopez (1,440,000)
A 37-year-old doctor and businessman, Lopez began playing poker 10 years ago. A native of San Carlos de Bariloche, the Argentinian has LAPT cashes dating back to the second season, with a 30th-place finish at LAPT4 Peru his best ever performance at a Main Event.
Seat 8: Jefferson Melo (3,600,000)
A 25-year-old entrepreneur from Porto Alegre, Brazil, Melo has a couple of BSOP cashes to his credit. Known as "GoiaBa," Melo's hobby is perhaps an easy one to guess -- bodybuilding, and he'll be returning to the bulkiest stack of anyone to start today's final table.
Action begins at noon in the Grand Ballroom here on the third floor of the Enjoy Viña del Mar Casino, and we'll be here throughout the day and night to bring you all of the action as we discover who among these final eight will be the next to claim the LAPT Main Event champion's trophy.
Photography from LAPT7 Chile by Carlos Monti. Live streaming of the final table in both Spanish and Portuguese is available via PokerStars.tv. You can also follow the Spanish feed at PokerStars or via Facebook, and the Portugeuse feed at PokerStars or via Facebook.
Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.