LAPT7 Panama: Up and at 'em

The traditional call of "Barajen y repartan!" has been made here at the LAPT7 Panama Main Event, and as directed dealers have shuffled and are dealing.

Did the announcement seem loud? Where'd I put that coffee?

The walls between the Venezia I, Venezia II, and Capri rooms here on the seventh floor of the Veneto Wyndham Grand Hotel and Casino have been removed to create a spacious playing area for the event, and as the first hour gets underway a little over half of the available tables are occupied with players taking the tourney's first hands.

The 12 noon kickoff is traditional on the tour, but perhaps seems a little early following those late afternoon starts of the LAPT's most recent stop in Sao Paulo where Brazil's own Caio Hey took the title.

Playing over on the feature table, Leo Fernandez -- winner here at the tour's inaugural Panama stop during Season 5 -- was perhaps looking a little like a lot of us feel here during the early going when the great Carlos Monti grabbed a first photo of the Team PokerStars Pro during the day's first orbit.

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Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez knows the early bird gets the chips

Despite the hour, there are plenty of other familiar faces here bright and early to work on spinning their 20,000-chip starting stacks upward.

LAPT6 Peru winner Patricio Rojas is here, as is his fellow Chilean and LAPT Season 6 Player of the Year Amos Ben. So, too, among those here at the start is Raul Pino, the third-ranking player on the all-time money list among Panamanian players thanks in large part to having made three LAPT Main Event final tables before.

Scott Montgomery of Canada and Joel Micka of the U.S. are taking first-level hands, both of whom have turned up on the LAPT before. And the Colombian Johann Ibanez -- who final-tabled the LAPT7 Chile event a few months ago, finishing fifth -- is present, sitting behind a stack and a pair of shades.

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Johann Ibanez, made in the shades

Not such a bad call, those sunglasses, both to shut out the light and perhaps grab a couple of extra winks while the blinds are still small.

New players continue to arrive, and will be able to do so up until the start of Level 7. Those busting before then will be able to re-enter as well today.

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.