LAPT8 Bahamas: Familiar, yet different

The first level of the first tournament of the eighth season of the Latin American Poker Tour has finished. First impression? Uncanny!

The term "uncanny" is often used to refer to anything mysterious or unsettling, although in truth it has a more specific meaning than that, one that contains an explanation for why something seems just a little strange. Something that is uncanny is both familiar and alien at the same time. The resemblance is strong enough to make you think of the analogue, but the difference great enough to ensure a distinction is apparent.

On the one hand, the number of familiar faces among those arriving for the first level of today's LAPT Bahamas Main Event has provided a kind of continuity between the end of Season 7 last October in Lima, Peru and the beginning of Season 8 here.

The Argentinian Fabian Ortiz -- a two-time LAPT champion who earned the second of his titles at Panama last July, and who also final-tabled the PCA Main Event a year ago (taking eighth) -- was among those sitting down at the start today, as was the Mexican Guillermo Olvera who took second in that event to Ortiz.

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Fabian Ortiz

Joaquin Melogno and Francisco Garcia of Uruguay are here as well, two more players with histories of performing well on the LAPT and on PokerStars as well as "elmelogno4" (Melogno) and "paulwiter" (Garcia). Brazil's Hilton Laborda, another LAPT regular, is in attendance, too.

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Hilton Laborda

Juan Martin Pastor of Argentina has taken a seat, as has his fellow countryman Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez and Fernandez's teammate Christian de Leon of Mexico. And there are many more here whom we've come to expect to see at LAPT events.

But others filling seats in the early going provide some contrast as far as the usual LAPT crowd is concerned.

Jonathan Little, Mike Leah, Max Silver, Dan O'Brien, and Team PokerStars Pro Eugene Katchalov are all taking hands. So are a couple of WSOP Main Event World Champions, Team PokerStars Pro Jonathan Duhamel (2010) and Ryan Riess (2013).

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Ryan Riess

Oliver Price, Marc-Etienne McLaughlin, Laurence Grondin, Yann Dion, and Maurice Hawkins are here, too, as are Harrison Gimbel, David Vamplew, and Faraz Jaka.

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Faraz Jaka

Scott Clements, David "Bakes" Baker, Andrew Chen, and Jeff Madsen also each arrived a little after the start during Level 2 today, all finding themselves seated at the same table in fact. As Sergio Prado, my colleague reporting for the PokerStars Brazil blog, just noted, that qualifies as a "table of death" of historic proportions for the LAPT.

The PCA has always provided a kind of international gathering point for all of the tours and players from around the globe, but the collection of players attracted to pay this LAPT Bahamas Main Event appears to have heightened that notion even more.

More players are filing in as well as tables continue to be added, helping form our second impression of the start of today's tournament -- there are a lot of players here. More than 300 at present, it appears, with more coming in.

We'll continue to keep tabs on both the total field size as well as who else walks through the doors of the Imperial Ballroom to take part in today's event, having taken a myriad of paths from all over the globe to get here to help form this atypical yet familiar LAPT field.

Photography from LAPT8 Bahamas by Carlos Monti. Click here for live updates in Spanish, and here for live updates in Portuguese.

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.