LAPT8 Chile: Meet the final eight
Welcome to the fourth and final day of the LAPT Chile Main Event. From 410 total entries just eight players remain, with one of them today destined to join LAPT Bahamas winner Josh Kay as a Season 8 LAPT champion.
With five Chileans, two Argentinians, and one representative from Brazil, a number of intriguing storylines are in play among our final tablists. Two of them have won LAPT Main Event titles before, with one going for a record third title today. One knocked out his father yesterday on his way to today's final table. Then there's the television director, the geologist who owns an ice cream parlor, and the sixth woman to make an LAPT Main Event final table.
Before action begins, let's find out a little more about each of the final eight.
Seat 1: Oscar Alache (Chile) -- 1,275,000
After starting out playing poker with friends in the northern Chile city of Iquique, Oscar Alache has become one of the hottest players on the LAPT of late, picking up several cashes last year including the title in the season-culminating LAPT7 Peru Grand Final, earning $135,488 for the feat.
He's started 2015 strong as well, and in fact won a pot-limit Omaha side event here at LAPT Chile during his day off from playing the Main Event. Alache has been playing poker for eight years, and when not at the tables enjoys basketball.
Seat 2: Rodrigo Oliver (Chile) -- 546,000
Viña del Mar resident Rodrigo Oliver brings a half-century of poker experience to the final table, with the 63-year-old having played the game since his teenage years.
Oliver's the Director of Regional TV channel Quinta Vision where he can be seen hosting interview shows, but this week he's the one being interviewed thanks to having here achieved his first ever significant tournament cash.
Seat 3: Justo Esquivel (Chile) -- 893,000
Also from Chile, Justo Esquivel is a geologist and mining entrepreneur, who since taking up the game in 2010 has also achieved success unearthing prizes from poker tournaments.
A player on the LAPT for the last four years, Esquivel has collected a few cashes including a victory in the High Roller event at LAPT Uruguay in Season 5.
Seat 4: Rodrigo Quezada (Chile) -- 864,000
Known as "Zorrito," Rodrigo Quezada is a 33-year-old native of Viña del Mar who has been collecting tournament cashes all over Latin America over the last three years.
He lists his father, Claudio, as his greatest poker influence. In fact, not only does Rodrigo come to today's final table armed with his father's poker teaching, but his father's chips as well as he knocked out Claudio yesterday in 22nd place. That hand resutled in an emotional scene, and with his father in attendance today there will no doubt be another one should Rodrigo go on to earn the title.
Seat 5: Renata Teixeira (Brazil) -- 532,000
Renata Teixeira is the last Brazilian player in the LAPT Chile Main Event, and the last woman as well. The 28-year-old Sao Paulo resident has been playing professionally for the last two years, having earned several cashes in the Brazilian Series of Poker and finishing runner-up in the Ladies Event at LAPT4 Brazil.
Teixeira's husband, Felipe Phil, first got her into the game. She also has considerable support both here and online, with fans and followers all sharing pictures of themselves sporting purple hairdos to match Teixeira's look.
Five women have made final tables before at the LAPT, although none since Season 4 -- Maria Stern (LAPT2 Costa Rica, finishing 8th), Daniela Zapiello (LAPT3 Brazil, 5th), Daniel Horno (LAPT4 Chile, 6th), Samar Hodali (LAPT4 Peru, 5th), and Jessica Bedoya (LAPT4 Colombia, 3rd). There may well be some Brazilians on the rail here today flipping their wigs as Teixeira carries further her tournament run.
Seat 6: Fabian Chauriye (Chile) -- 1,638,000
Starting with the chip lead today is 24-year-old Fabian Chauriye, a full-time student who has played poker for eight years after learning the game from his older brother, Ricardo.
Chauriye enjoys football and tennis when not studying or playing LAPT events. This marks Chauriye's third straight cash in the LAPT Chile Main, and he also made the money in the LAPT7 Peru Grand Final. But he's already locked up his biggest career tournament score by far, wherever he finishes today.
Seat 7: Javier Venegas (Argentina) -- 1,045,000
Javier Venegas is a 33-year-old owner of an ice cream parlor who lists agriculture as another hobby. Hailing from the province of Neuquén, Venegas grabbed the chip lead late on Day 2 and spent most of yesterday enjoying a stack well above the average as the tournament whittled down towards today's final table.
Venegas has been playing poker for 11 years and has been collecting cashes on the LAPT since Season 3, including final tabling this very event once before at LAPT5 Chile where he finished fifth.
Seat 8: José Ignacio "Nacho" Barbero (Argentina) -- 1,166,000
Finally sitting next to Venegas today will be the other Argentinian at the table and easily the best known player both on the LAPT and elsewhere, Nacho Barbero.
With nearly $2.7 million in live tournament earnings picked up all around the world, Barbero has been a star of the LAPT since the tour's beginnings, winning back-to-back Main Event titles during Season 4 in Uruguay and then in Peru.
Barbero was the lone player with two titles until his fellow countryman Fabian Ortiz won a second last year at LAPT7 Panama, but today looks to take sole possession of the record once more with a third win. And speaking of records, today marks Barbero's seventh LAPT Main Event final table, the most of any LAPT player.
Here is how the payouts are scheduled for the final eight finishers:
Play begins at 12 noon local time -- that's one hour ahead of Eastern time, and three hours behind GMT -- here on the third floor of the Enjoy Viña del Mar Casino. We'll be here from start to finish to report on the action, and you can follow along as well by watching the LAPT Live stream. Join us then to see who becomes the next player to win the LAPT Main Event trophy.
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.