LAPT7 Panama: Meet the final eight
It has been a great week in Panama City, where in addition to enjoying the local cuisine and friendly people, we've appreciated the ever-growing city skyline and the engineering marvel of the Panama Canal. We've also witnessed a lot of great poker, and after several days of chip stack construction just eight players remain, each hoping to make one last passage through to an LAPT title.
They're the lone survivors from a big 550-entry field, with Fabian Ortiz of Argentina the chip leader, three Mexicans still in contention, and Australia, Colombia, Jamaica, and Malta (by way of France) all still represented.
Last night ended with a lengthy final table bubble, lasting nearly three hours with many ups and downs, all-ins and double-ups. Our chip leader Ortiz well exemplified the changing fortunes affecting most of the final tablists, having begun the nine-handed play the shortest stack of the group only to end the night bagging the most chips.
Such a path has been taken before by Ortiz in an LAPT Main Event, most notably back in 2009 at the LAPT2 Chile final table where he found himself at won point down to just half a big blind only to come all of the way to secure the title and a $173,220 first prize.
Thus is the Argentinian still in position to join his fellow countryman and Team PokerStars Pro Nacho Barbero as a two-time LAPT champion, a feat only Barbero has achieved during the tour's first six-and-a-half seasons. But there's a long way to go, with a table full of tough contenders with whom Ortiz must contend.
Here's a look at our remaining eight players.
Seat 1: Javier Rios (Colombia) -- 1,730,000
Javier Rios recently collected a recent win on the Colombia Poker Tour where the 31-year-old computer engineer took down a C$1,150,000 no-limit hold'em event back in February, topping a 220-entrant field including Carter Gill heads-up (who finished 31st here yesterday) to earn a payday worth more than $26,000 USD.
Seat 2: Alexander Haber (Jamaica) -- 905,000
A couple of cashes at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure highlight Alexander Haber's tournament career to this point. That's enough to place the 47-year-old businessman second currently on the all-time money list for Jamaican players behind Rory Chinn, but by making today's final table he's already assured himself enough to move ahead of Chinn to top that list.
Seat 3: Hugo Lemaire (Malta) -- 755,000
A Frenchman playing from Malta, Hugo Lemaire brings the most extensive tournament résumé to today's final table, having collected more than $1.4 million in lifetime earnings. Highlights of the 27-year-old poker pro's achievements include a runner-up finish at the WPT Grand Prix de Paris in 2011 worth nearly $450,000, and reaching the semifinals in the $5,000 Mixed-Max event at the WSOP in 2012. This marks Lemaire's first cash in an LAPT Main Event.
Seat 4: Hugo Suarez (Mexico) -- 1,940,000
An NL100 and NL200 cash game player, Hugo Suarez is a 24-year-old airplane pilot and poker pro. He has a couple of small side event cashes from EPT Tallinn and the PCA to his credit, though this will mark his most significant tourney score.
Seat 5: Nick Russo (Australia) -- 1,915,000
Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Nick Russo is a 26-year-old accountant who has a few small cashes over the last year, but like Suarez will be earning a career-high finish today regardless of where he ends up.
Seat 6: Antonio Hogaza (Mexico) -- 495,000
Another relative newcomer to the tournament poker scene, 47-year-old businessman Antonio Hogaza did pick up a cash this summer at the WSOP in a $1,000 NLHE event.
Seat 7: Guillermo Olvera (Mexico) -- 1,035,000
The third Mexican at the final table, 25-year-old Guillermo Olvera has several tourney scores to his credit already, enough to edge him into a spot just outside his country's all-time top ten. He's cashed in a couple of LAPT Main Events before, his best prior finish being a 45th-place showing at LAPT6 Panama last September. He also cashed at EPT10 Barcelona that same month, finishing 29th.
Seat 8: Fabian Ortiz (Argentina) -- 2,060,000
Aside from winning that LAPT2 Chile title, Ortiz has the distinction of earning the best ever finish for an Argentinian in the World Series of Poker Main Event where he finished 17th in 2013 for a career-high $357,655 cash. The former disco owner also additionally final tabled the PCA Main Event earlier this year, finishing eighth.
Here is how the payouts are scheduled for the final eight spots:
Action gets going at 12 noon (Central time) on the seventh floor of the Veneto Wyndham Grand Hotel. We'll be here from start to finish to bring all of the action as we discover together if Ortiz can secure a record-tying second LAPT title or if one of his opponents will be taking away the coveted LAPT Main Event trophy.
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 PokerStars.tv.
Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.