LAPT8 Bahamas: Managing expectations with Dominik Panka

Talking with LAPT President David Carrion yesterday, he made what we are now all calling a conservative estimate of the possible turnout for today's first ever LAPT Bahamas Main Event. Actually, we were using the word "conservative" yesterday as well with reference to his statement "I personally would be very happy with 250 players," although when doing so dutifully added that he surely knew more about such things than we.

Well, after four levels today we are all reasonably certain El Presidente is most certainly happy. That's because the total number of entries has already risen to more than 470 so far with late registration continuing four more levels plus the dinner break.

We're spotting many more familiar faces among the newcomers, though not all are necessarily familiar to LAPT events. Team PokerStars Pros Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Liv Boeree, Victor Ramdin, and Andre Akkari are part of the party now, as are Johan Ibanez, Calvin Anderson, Dan Kelly, Xuan Liu, Antoine Saout, Tony Gregg, Gualter Salles, and Byron Kaverman.

While we're on the subject of expectations, another player who has joined the LAPT Bahamas field is last year's PCA Main Event champion, Dominik Panka. How does the defending champion feel coming back a year later to the scene of his success?

"Great, great," he answered with a wide smile and chuckle. "I landed here yesterday. I'm very happy to come back, obviously. There are a lot of people in Poland who are cheering for me, and who think, you know, that I will do it for a second time. But it's close to impossible, you know?"

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Dominik Panka

As far as this event goes, Panka sits just above the starting stack after four levels.

"This is my first LAPT tournament... it's very nice," he said, noting that without having any plans to travel to South America, he'd probably never get a chance to play an LAPT otherwise.

"It's kind of like the Eureka in Europe," he continued, "but I think the players are a little bit tougher because a lot of regulars are playing this tournament."

The Eureka series in Vienna was just one of several scenes where Panka enjoyed success last year, making two different final tables. He also cashed in the EPT Barcelona Main Event and the EPT/UKIPT London Main Event, and earned a big win earlier in the year in the EPT Deauville High Roller. Together with his PCA Main Event victory, Panka picked up close to $2 million during the calendar year.

When asked about his plans for this year's PCA, it sounds like Panka is very interested to combine work with pleasure, if he can. He may or may not play the High Roller or other side events besides the Main Event, but isn't locking in his schedule just yet.

"I hope that I will have more time for vacationing, especially because my fiancée is here as well. A lot of players are focused on poker and starting the year well, but I'm not paying that much attention to poker right now," he explained.

"I'm not sure if I'm such a dedicated poker player," he added with a grin.

Turning back to the defense of his Main Event title, Panka again became modest with regard to his expectations.

"I would just like not to get embarrassed -- I hope that I don't bust the first day! I would like to make the money... that would make me happy. I mean I wouldn't be happy to bust, but it would be all right."

The sentiment recalled someone else saying what would make him happy, and how his expectations have been more than exceeded. Perhaps there's a strategy worth contemplating there.

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.