LAPT7 Chile: Return visit to Viña to start Season 7

Season 7 is here! No longer a fledgling start-up, the Latin American Poker Tour has by now well earned full-blown "tradition" status, thanks both to its longevity and to a well established pattern of support and personalized service from the PokerStars staff.

Viña del Mar has developed a tradition of its own as a favorite stop on the tour. This week will mark the fifth time the tour has traveled to the coastal municipality.

The Argentinian Fabián Ortiz won at the LAPT's first visit here back in 2009 during Season 2, outlasting a field of 216 to win. Then the following year an 8.8-magnitude earthquake striking a few weeks before the tour's scheduled return and about 175 miles south of Viña del Mar forced a cancellation, perhaps making the forging of a tradition in Viña seem less likely.

But the return to Chile was strong with more than 600 players coming out each of the following two years as Brazil's Murilo Figueiredo (Season 4) and Chile's own Alirio Diaz (Season 5) earned titles. Then last year a whopping 1,024 came to play, with the Argentinian Pablo Tavitian topping that huge field to earn a handsome $184,220 first prize as the LAPT6 Chile champ.


Pablo Tavitian, LAPT6 Chile Main Event champion

It was a thrilling ending a year ago, the drama heightened further by Team PokerStars Pro and two-time LAPT champion Nacho Barbero enjoying a chip lead during three-handed play only to fall in third behind Tavitian and eventual runner-up Leonardo Martins of Brazil.

As Barbero noted in his most recent blog post, "I can't wait to get back to Viña del Mar" to get a crack at another possible deep run and one more chance at a third LAPT title.


Team PokerStars Pro Nacho Barbero

Nacho's not alone in looking forward to returning, as many players have already found their way back to participate in side events. LAPT Travel is here as well to help players with all aspects of their stay, including tours to Valparaiso, Reñaca, cycling and more.

Action for the "Evento Principal" gets underway tomorrow at noon local time (an hour ahead of ET) with the first of two Day 1 flights in what is expected again to be another large field tourney. Then by Sunday we'll have a new LAPT champion.

Come back all week for start-to-finish coverage of LAPT7 Chile here at the PokerStars blog where I'll provide the words and Carlos Monti the images from the beautiful Enjoy Viña del Mar Casino and Resort, located right along the Pacific coast where the waves are always crashing.


Enjoy Viña del Mar Casino and Resort

Speaking of crashing things, there's at least a fine dinner and perhaps a party standing between now and those first hands being dealt tomorrow. Back then for more as we begin to tell the story of the newest Viña victor and the continuing tradition of the LAPT.

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.