LAPT8 Brazil: The clouds and the crowds -- the Grand Final starts today!

We're back! The Latin American Poker Tour has touched down yet again, this time landing in São Paulo, Brazil for the last stop of Season 8 -- the Grand Final which promises to be grand indeed. Here's a look at how Brazil's largest and most populous city greeted us as we floated down through the typically cloudy skies for this week's event:


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Looking down through the clouds

Brazil is where it all began for PokerStars' Latin American Poker Tour way back in 2008 with the tour's inaugural event in Rio de Janeiro, won by the Dutchman Julien Nuijten who topped a 315-entry field.

Since then the tour has returned to Brazil five more times, with cosmopolitan São Paulo having emerged as the preferred destination of late here in South America's largest country. São Paulo sports the nickname Terra da Garoa or the "Land of Drizzle," and true to form it's a typically gray day today and rain is in the forecast for the remainder of the week as well.

But that's no matter to us as we'll be cozy and dry inside the World Trade Center São Paulo complex all week. Situated along the city's southern edge, the WTC has proven an amenable location for both the LAPT and the Brazilian Series of Poker over recent years. The complex includes a 25-story office tower harmoniously situated within the surrounding architecture along the packed Avenida das Nações Unidas and near the Pinheiros river. Along with the tower there's the Sheraton São Paulo Hotel, a convention center, numerous stores and restaurants, and lots else to occupy guests.

As the name suggests, WTC São Paulo is part of the global organization that supports international trade with locations in nearly 300 cities in more than 80 different countries. It's a suitable location for the culmination of the LAPT's eighth season. After all, the tour itself similarly provides a means for people from all over the world to come together and engage in a different kind of trade, setting prices with their bets and raises while trying to negotiate their way to a final table and LAPT title.

The action returns to the spacious Golden Hall this week, a huge space with something like 150 tables ready to handle not only the LAPT Grand Final -- a R$10,000 buy-in event (equal to about $2,650 USD) -- but the 30-plus other events comprising the BSOP São Paulo schedule as well. The BSOP is simultaneously finishing out its season here as well, its 10th.

Here's how things appeared at a recent visit to the WTC São Paulo when the Golden Hall was filled to capacity with poker players from around the world. It's a scene we expect to see reenacted very soon, and one that kind of uncannily resembles the crowded look of the city itself:

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Looking down at the crowd

Today the first of two Day 1 flights for the LAPT Grand Final will be kicking off at 3 p.m. local time (three hours ahead of ET, three hours behind CET). The plan is to play 10 one-hour levels with a 75-minute dinner break along the way, which means action will continue through 3 a.m. or so before play concludes. Registration will remain open until the start of Level 7 (after dinner), with the option to re-enter also available to anyone busting before then.

Meanwhile there are a handful of other BSOP events happening today, plus other diversions including a celebrity event and a tournament for non-poker media. While LAPT Grand Final will be our primary focus over the next five days until a champion is found on Sunday, we'll be sure to check in on other goings-on as well.

Stick close as we say Tchau! for now to the clouds and prepare to say Olá! to the crowds soon to arrive for a week's worth of poker in São Paulo!

Photography from LAPT8 Brazil by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.