LAPT7 Panama: Fabian Ortiz takes lead to final table, aims for 2nd title

A journey all of the way through the Panama Canal -- from the time a ship gets in line from one ocean to the time it empties out on its way toward another -- generally takes around eight to 10 hours, although in truth such a voyage is essentially a day-long proposition.


From ocean to ocean

It's a little like a given day in a poker tournament like the LAPT Panama Main Event -- for example, this year's Day 3. A total of 47 players came today, all having paid the initial toll and survived from an original starting field of 550 entries. They'd play all of the way down to a final eight, and subtracting the dinner break it actually took more than 10 hours' worth of poker to do so. And it'll be another day before those who survived will finally get to complete their tourney journeys.

The Panama Canal might be the world's most famous short cut. But as the final eight already well know -- especially current chip leader Fabian Ortiz, who already has one LAPT title to his credit -- there's no short cut to becoming an LAPT champion.

The day began with everyone chasing Derek Ecenarro, the only player to have bagged a million chips on Day 2. A manic first hour then saw 16 players sent railward, Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez among them (in 35th).

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Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez

Carter Gill (31st) and Brian England (28th) were early afternoon knockouts as well as LAPT2 Chile champion Ortiz began to challenge Ecenarro and then grab the chip lead.

Play continued, with another former LAPT champion, Alex Manzano, going out in 20th.

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Alex Manzano

Then another spate of eliminations trimmed the field further as Nick Russo and Hugo Suarez rose to the top of the counts.

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Nick Russo

Peter Nigh would then fall in 13th after a well-nigh impossible hand -- nearly impossible to get away from, anyway -- in which he had pocket aces and Suarez flopped quads. A short-stacked Ecenarro would follow in 12th, Luis Perez in 11th, and Alex Brenes in 10th, thereby trimming the field to 10.

After knocking out Brenes, Javier Rios had the chip lead to start nine-handed play with more than 2.5 million while Ortiz had become the table's short stack.

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Javier Rios

The final table bubble would prove especially hard to burst, however, lasting nearly three hours and carrying play right up until midnight.

Guillermo Olvera enjoyed two double-ups to move up near the top of the counts for a while. Nick Russo became short but doubled up as well when his pocket nines held against Alexander Haber's A♥K♥. Then Hugo Suarez enjoyed a big double to more than 2 million when his K♦K♣ held against Ariel Scaparro's 4♠4♦, catapulting him into the lead.

Meanwhile Ortiz kept chipped up. Scaparro then fell under 250,000 before doubling through Ortiz. Then Ortiz would double through Antonio Hogaza. And on it went.

Finally Scaparro would push his last 480,000 -- eight big blinds -- and after some thought Ortiz made the call. It was Scaparro's A♠[10h] versus Ortiz's 8♥8♠, and a 4♣5♣K♥Q♠8♠ board knocked out Scaparro in ninth for $13,980.

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Ariel Scaparro

That pot carried Ortiz -- shortest to start the nine-handed table -- into the chip lead at night's end. Here's how the final eight will stack up to start Day 4:

1. Fabian Ortiz (Argentina) -- 2,060,000
2. Hugo Suarez (Mexico) -- 1,940,000
3. Nick Russo (Australia) -- 1,915,000
4. Javier Rios (Colombia) -- 1,730,000
5. Guillermo Olvera (Mexico) -- 1,035,000
6. Alexander Haber (Jamaica) -- 905,000
7. Hugo Lemaire (Malta) -- 755,000
8. Antonio Hogaza (Mexico) -- 495,000

Ortiz sits primed to make a run at joining his fellow countryman and Team PokerStars Pro Nacho Barbero as a two-time LAPT Main Event champion.

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Fabian Ortiz

The Day 4 ship sets sail at 12 noon tomorrow local time (Central). Join us again then as we gradually move from an ocean of doubt to another of certainty regarding the LAPT7 Panama Main Event.

Photography from LAPT7 Panama by Carlos Monti. Click here for live updates in Spanish, and here for live updates in Portuguese. Also check out the start-to-finish live streaming coverage (in both Spanish and Portuguese) at

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.