LAPT7 Panama: Ortiz on the rise; 25 remain

For most of the first two hours of Day 3, the general rule was not to get involved with chip leader Derek Ecenarro, dug in behind his massive stack on the feature table and generally holding sway as the day began to unfold.

After the eliminations of Carter Gill (31st), Gino Guidi Moreno (30th), and Osvaldo Rene Lewis (29th) -- the latter seeing his J♠[10s] fail him against Guillermo Musik's A♠K♦ -- Brian England got himself into a difficult situation after losing most of his stack to Ecenarro. Soon after England was flipping for his tourney life, and the cards falling the wrong way he, too, was out in 28th.

LAPT -PANA-7S-2387.jpg

Brian England

Rodrigo Quezada of Chile would next fall in 27th after his A♠Q♠ failed him against Ariel Scarparro's A♣[10c] when a ten came among the community cards, followed by Joaquin Matias Ruiz of Argentina in 26th.

But then Fabian Ortiz -- the LAPT2 Chile champion and 17th-place finisher in the 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event -- decided to go against that rule and tangle with Ecenarro.

It was a three-way pot near the end of Level 20, and with the board showing Q♦8♣K♦7♥ Ortiz checked from the big blind, Ecenarro fired a half-pot bet of 115,000 from the cutoff, and after the button folded Ortiz took a half-minute before calling.

The river then brought the K♥ to pair the board, and Ortiz quickly checked. Ecenarro unhesitatingly carved out 230,000 this time, and once the bet was announced Ortiz called with alarming quickness.

Also alarming was the sight of Ecenarro firing his cards into the muck just a beat after Ortiz's call, conceding the pot and making it unnecessary for the Argentinian to reveal his hand.

The tables now turned, Ortiz has grabbed the chip lead with more than 1.13 million while Ecenarro slips to just under 950,000.

LAPT -PANA-7S-2445.jpgFabian Ortiz

With 25 left to start Level 21, Ortiz eyes the possibility of joining his fellow countryman Team PokerStars Pro Nacho Barbero as a two-time LAPT champ.

We'll see how Ortiz handles the chip lead going forward, and how Ecenarro handles his rule suddenly being challenged.

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.