LAPT8 Chile: Mountains and tunnels, chips and cards

You fly to Santiago first, located just about at the center of the long, narrow coastal strip that is Chile. Then you travel by car westward to get to Viña del Mar, a trip of about an hour-and-a-half.

Chile's capital sits in a valley, meaning the ride takes you through many tree-covered mountains, including tunneling through to make your way to the other side. Eventually the ocean comes into view, the deep, dark blue contrasting markedly with the bright green from before.

Watching the first hands of a poker tournament suggests a similar journey. Each player travels singly, his or her starting stack a full tank with which to fuel the trip. The 20,000 chips they have to begin today seems plenty. But there are hundreds of other equal stacks all about, with the overall number of chips in play -- many millions -- like so many surrounding mountains.

Each table is kind of like a tunnel, too, through which each player must try -- hand after hand -- to negotiate a path. Probably best thought of that way, as the task of making it all of the way through to the last table of the tournament might seem distractingly daunting otherwise.

We've made a few trips around the tourney floor. It already looks as though there are more players here today than the 155-entry total of a day ago.


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Lots of traffic on the LAPT road

Ariel Celestino, Tony Baggio, and Nicolau Villa-Lobos each tried twice yesterday, each crashing both times. All three are back behind the wheel again today for third attempts. Michelle Reyes, Lucas Cortijo, Richard Dubini, Thiago Nijishima have traveled back today as well after each busting once on Day 1A.


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Thiago Nijishima

In 2013, Bruno Kawauti finished 15th in the World Series of Poker Main Event, just a couple of spots ahead of 17th-place finisher Fabian Ortiz. Both are here for today's Day 1B, with Kawauti trying a second time after busting once yesterday and Ortiz making a first attempt.

Kawauti has cashed in a couple of LAPT Main Events since his WSOP run, while Ortiz is one of only two players in the tour's history to claim two Main Event titles, having won right here in Viña del Mar back in Season 2, then again last year at LAPT7 Panama.

Gonzalo Valenzuela -- who took part in the celebrity cash game yesterday -- is here as well, hoping to improve upon his eighth-place finish at LAPT4 Chile.


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Gonzalo Valenzuela

They've tripped along into the second level. The coast is hardly clear.

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.