LAPT7 Panama: Nick Russo, Hugo Suarez lead; 13 remain

Level 23 began with 18 players, five of them sitting with more than a million chips.

Javier Rios of Colombia started today second in the counts behind Derek Ecenarro, and by late afternoon had managed to move into the top spot by accumulating more than 1.4 million. Malta's Hugo Lemaire, meanwhile, was sitting just behind Rio with about 1.35 million after four hours of poker today.

Fabian Ortiz (Argentina), Nick Russo (Australia), and Humberto's hermano Alex Brenes (Costa Rica) meanwhile were all hovering right around 1.1 million as the final 18 returned from the day's second break.

Absent from that list of million-chipaires is the American Ecenarro, who after four levels today found himself down to about 250,000 and among the shorter stacks left.

Russo would soon add to his stack by knocking out Juan Arango of Colombia in 18th ($6,700). Down to his last 10 big blinds, Arango committed with K♦J♠ against the K♠2♦ of Russo and through fourth street appeared set to survive with a double. But a deuce fell on fifth to end Arango's run -- not bad finish, though, after starting today 46th of 47.

The Colombian John Rua followed shortly in 17th ($7,520), his ace-king failing to connect versus an opponent's pocket treys. A short-stacked Guillermo Musik of Mexico then went out in 16th ($7,520), felled by the pocket rockets of Luis Perez.

Next out was Frank Naranjo who called all in after a big three-bet from Guillermo Olveras, showing A♦4♥ to Olveras's K♦K♠. The 4♦3♦7♠ flop paired the lesser of Naranjo's hole cards, but the Q♥ turn and 9♠ river brought nothing of further use to the Colombian and he finished in 15th ($8,520).

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Frank Naranjo

Then came a hand that began with an open from Ecenarro followed by a reraise-shove for eight BBs from Sergio Barrios of Mexico. It folded to the Jamaican, Alexander Haber, who reraised all in, forcing Ecenarro to step aside. Barrios needed his A♦9♦ to improve against Haber's two black tens, but the community cards brought no such improvement and Barrios was eliminated in 14th ($8,520).

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Sergio Barrios

By the end of the level, there were 13 left and still five of them sitting above a million. Russo looked to be leading with about 1.4 million with Hugo Suarez close behind with a similar stack. Javier Rios still had about 1.2 million, the Argentinian Fabian Ortiz still had about 1.15 million, and Haber was hovering right above 1 million.

With 13 left, they'll continue until there are five more eliminations before stopping tonight.

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.