LAPT7 Panama: On the break with Bounahra, who still likes deuce-seven
When Badih "Bob" Bounahra of Belize made the November Nine three summers ago, the poker world took to their atlases to find the small Central American country, as he was the first ever from his country to make it to a WSOP Main Event final table.
Look again and you'll see that Belize sits about 800 miles (1300 km) northwest of Panama, a distance Bounahra traversed to play this week's LAPT event.
It was a shorter journey than the one to Las Vegas, and easier than the months-long voyage he took through a field of 6,865 to finish seventh in the 2011 WSOP Main Event for a $1.3 million-plus cash.
"I played two years ago here in Panama," Bounahra explained to us during the day's first break. "I played Costa Rica once, Punta del Este once, and at Mar del Plata."
His participation on the LAPT dates to the tour's beginnings, that reference to the Mar del Plata event in Argentina going back to Season 2, an event won by the young German Dominik Nitsche. By coincidence, Bounahra would run into Nitsche again this summer at the World Series of Poker where the two of them both made the final table of a 2,000-plus entrant $1,000 no-limit hold'em event.
"People give him chips... he's lucky," says Bounahra, a slight grin and eyebrow raise serving as both an ambiguous punctuation mark to the observation and a prelude to the story of how that event concluded for him.
"It was an unbelievable hand. We got queens, tens, and sevens, and unfortunately I got the sevens. I go all in, and then queens go all in and tens do, too."
Both Bounahra and Nitsche had been short-stacked compared to the third player, Dave D'Alesandro. But Nitsche had the queens and also had Bounahra covered.
"End up queens winning," Bounahra continues. "He had 25% of the chips [after that hand], and he ended up winning the bracelet." He shakes his head, noting how such a finish was "decent" but shy of his hopes.
All in all, this summer's WSOP was a successful one for Bounahra, as to that third-place finish he added a 17th-place showing in another $1K NLHE event.
Speaking further about the WSOP, Bounahra opined that while the structures were good, he'd like to see more of the "monster stack" events going forward, as they proved especially popular.
Looking back to the 2011 Main Event and his deep run there, his face brightens. "It was an awesome feeling," he says of the experience. An underdog at the final table both because of his chip stack and amateur status amid a table full of pros, it was a nothing-to-lose spot for the 52-year-old businessman, and he thrived upon it.
Bounahra clearly enjoys that underdog role, even if here at the LAPT he's garnered a spot at the televised feature table thanks to his November Niner status.
Such perhaps explains his continued affection for the lowest-ranking hand in hold'em.
"Deuce-seven is still my favorite hand," he laughs, echoing something we heard him telling his rail three years ago. "And I hate aces."
"The reason it is my favorite hand is that after the flop you can get away from it," he explains, nothing in his grin suggesting any ironic distance whatsoever. "How do you get away on aces on a half-decent flop?"
With that we let Bounahra get away to enjoy the rest of his break.
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.