LAPT7 Peru: Celeste Orona welcomed to Team PokerStars Pro Online

The LAPT Peru Grand Final is still in its early stages -- heck, there are 265 players returning from dinner break to continue Day 1B, and 90 more waiting for the survivors to join them for tomorrow's Day 2. But it's already been quite the ride for one player playing in her first LAPT Main Event -- Argentina's Celeste Orona, announced today as the newest member of Team PokerStars Pro Online.

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LAPT President David Carrion introduces Celeste Orona, newest member of Team PokerStars Pro Online

"Yesterday was crazy," said Orona with a smile who plays as "LadyMaCe86" on PokerStars. While today's announcement was exciting, her Day 1A odyssey was perhaps even more so thanks to her drawing a seat on the televised feature table early on.

"I had my cell phone, and all of my friends and family were sending me messages, railing me on the live stream," she said. While she'd nurse her stack for much of that stretch, an afternoon move to the outer tables translated into her being able to pick up chips to end the night with 39,700.

"Once I got moved I was able to pick up a few pots. I may be below the average, but I still have a stack that will allow me to fight. And that's what I plan to do."


Orona weighs her options in a hand from Day 1A

Speaking with Orona, it's clear right away that having a plan and following it through is something that comes naturally to her. Such was the case when she was an honors student earning a degree in Business Administration, then afterwards as well when she applied that degree with employment in multinational corporations.

"I had a very good job with good pay -- I couldn't complain," she says. But then the plan changed, to be replaced by a new one.

"I began to think about how being in the corporate world was probably not something I wanted to do in the future. I couldn't really see myself at 40 doing the same job... and that was about when I started getting into poker."

It started as it does for so many of us -- a "recreational" approach to poker that saw her mostly playing for fun after work and on the weekends. But after stepping away from the game for a short while she returned via a modest $50 deposit on PokerStars.

"It was then I began studying the game," says Orona. "Soon I was playing no-limit quite seriously. I knew right away I wanted to be a better poker player -- not just to play for fun and mess around, but really to improve. I started in the microlimits and moved up from there."

That move upwards in stakes -- coupled with still more thoughtful planning in the form of sound bankroll management -- brought her to a point when she realized she'd found an alternative path to the one on which she'd originally found herself.

"When I finally made the decision to quit my job and play full time, it was not something I suddenly decided one day. It wasn't like I had a bad day at work or a fight with my boss. It was a very calculated move. I'd reached a point where I had enough of a bankroll to feel comfortable moving over to poker full time... enough to last through a lengthy downswing. Doing it otherwise would be a really big risk."

As a full-time player Orona sticks primarily to cash games, noting how tournaments can be tough way to make a living, in particular for live tourney players with travel expenses to consider, too. She will jump into tourneys on Sundays, however, including the Women's Sunday (a favorite of hers), recalling that earlier time when her primary motive for playing was pleasure, not profit.

And live tourneys? There will likely be more for Orona her future, especially if things go well here.

"But for the moment I'm taking things slowly," she adds.

Calculated moves -- in life and at the tables. And they're adding up to something special for Team Pro Online's newest member.

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Read more about Orona's journey "From corporate nerd to Team Pro Online."

Photography from LAPT7 Peru by Carlos Monti. Check out the start-to-finish live streaming coverage (in both Spanish and Portuguese) at Click here for live updates in Spanish, and here for live updates in Portuguese.

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.