LAPT8 Chile: It's almost time! Day 1A awaits

It's March. The sun is out. The flowers are growing. And we've returned once again to la Ciudad Jardín -- the Garden City -- a.k.a. beautiful Viña del Mar, Chile, where Season 8 of the Latin American Poker Tour continues today.


Time for poker!

The LAPT got a head start this season with the first ever LAPT8 Bahamas Main Event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. That tournament crushed expectations by attracting a huge field of 736, with Josh Kay of the U.S. ultimately outlasting them all to earn a big $367,928 payday.

The PCA Main Event also saw the LAPT well represented at its final table, where the Argentinian Juan Martin Pastor finished fifth and Diego Ventura of Peru made it all of the way to heads-up before Kevin Schulz of the U.S. took the trophy. And of course who could forget the deep run of Brazilian footballer Ronaldo Nazario who finished 26th!

Shortly after leaving Paradise Island, the LAPT announced the rest of the Season 8 schedule, highlighted this year by return visits to Chile this week, to Panama (in May), to Peru (in July), to Uruguay (in September), then finishing with the LAPT Grand Final in Brazil (in November).

It was a year ago here on the third floor of the Enjoy Viña del Mar casino that the Argentinian Mario Lopez topped a 609-entry field to win the title, earning $117,991 for doing so following a four-way deal at the final table.


Mario Lopez, LAPT7 Chile champion

Players will start today with 20,000 chips for today's Day 1A, the first of two Day 1 flights. The schedule calls for 10 one-hour levels, with unlimited re-entries available through the end of the dinner break and start of Level 7.

The buy-in this time around has been upped from last year's $1,700 to $2,500, one of a few changes marking this season of the LAPT. Another is an expanded schedule of side events, bringing the overall total number of tournaments to 13, including some interesting non-hold'em offerings. There's also an expanded player's lounge, heads-up matches and a "Breakfast with the Pros," a celebrity cash game scheduled today, and more.

We'll be looking in on all of those other festivities over the next few days, but for now the attention will be on the Main Event's kickoff at 12 noon for which more than 120 have already qualified via PokerStars satellites. (Speaking of time, we're two hours ahead of Eastern time here, and three hours behind GMT.)

Play kicks off about an hour from now. Stay here for updates and photos over the next five days as we discover who the next LAPT champion will be. And don't forget also to follow the stream on LAPT Live which starts today with coverage of the celebrity cash game, then continues with Main Event coverage right through to Tuesday's final.

Photography from LAPT8 Chile by Carlos Monti. Watch the stream at LAPT Live. You can also follow the action in Spanish on the PokerStars blog and on Facebook, and in Portuguese on the blog and on Facebook.

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.