LAPT8 Brazil: The stars are out tonight for poker's challenge

It's been a successful and busy day here in the Golden Hall, site of the simultaneous start of both the LAPT Grand Final and BSOP Millions.

While the Grand Final winds down toward the close of its Day 1A, the first side event of the BSOP Millions -- a R$460 buy-in no-limit hold'em affair -- drew more than 800 for each of two Day 1 flights, with a couple more scheduled tomorrow meaning the likelihood of a 3,000-plus entry field is high.

Meanwhile at the front of the room the celebrity tournament has dazzled onlookers for the last couple of hours. A freeroll with a PCA package awaiting the winner, the tournament is called the "Desafío de las estrellas" or "Challenge of the Stars," and plenty of the country's biggest stars took up the challenge.

We've already mentioned the presence of Brazilian footballer legend Ronaldo, the World Cup champion who was named three times as the world's best soccer player.


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Team PokerStars SportStar Ronaldo

Other top athletes are part of the field as well, including Rodrigo Santana -- a.k.a. "Rodrigão" -- winner of an Olympic gold medal in volleyball for Brazil. Two-time bronze medalist swimmer Fernando Scherer also took part, as did Maureen Maggi who won a gold medal in the long jump at the 2008 Beijing Olympics for Brazil.


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Maureen Maggi

The top-ranked tennis player in Brazil at the moment, Thomaz Bellucci, also was part of the field along with another Brazilian tennis superstar, Bruno Soares.

Stock car racer Thiago Camilo, congressman Nelo Rodolfo, and journalist Bruno Laurence played as well, as did three of Brazil's best poker pros, Thiago Nishijima, Rodrigo Garrido, and Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari.


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Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari

They are down to a couple of tables in the "Challenge of the Stars," where Ronaldo looks like he's building a stack over at the feature table. Just a couple of levels left to go as well in Day 1A of the Grand Final as well. We'll be back with the conclusions of both.

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.