LAPT8 Chile: Rodrigo Garrido gathering (again)

Just a few weeks ago I was almost 4,800 miles (about 7,800 km) from where I am today. I was sitting behind my computer, watching the Sunday Million play out and a player named "rportaleoni" top a field of 6,658 to win the tournament and a $166,746.41 first prize.

With an avatar showing an adorable infant, the player was himself at a computer over on the opposite coast of South America, playing from Santa Catarina in Brazil about 1,750 miles away (around 2,800 km) from Viña del Mar. He enjoyed a huge lead to start that final table -- building a stack of more than 24 million at a time when his nearest challenger had but a third of that -- then hung on to earn the win.

Today we're in the same room, and I'm watching Rodrigo Garrido play poker again.


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Rodrigo "rportaleoni" Garrido

In the last hand of Level 2 today, a hefty river bet by Garrido sent his opponent into the tank for several minutes, the hand lasting into the day's first break. At last his opponent released his cards, and after he collected the pot -- pushing him up near 40,000 and twice the starting stack -- Garrido and I were able to chat.

"It was like a dream," he said when asked about starting that Sunday Million final table with such a huge stack. "I could wait for the short stacks to bust and play just for value at first, then when there were five or six left I was able to play more aggressively when the pay jumps became really good."

With four players left Garrido still had the chip lead, at which point they made a deal to divide the remaining prize money while leaving $20,000 for which to play.

"The deal was really good for me," Garrido explained. "I got better than second-place money, and then I was able to get the other $20K. I only lost the lead once during heads-up just for one hand."

In addition to his online exploits, Garrido has been cashing in live tournaments since 2008, collecting several at the WSOP over the years -- including final tabling a $1,500 event in 2011 where he finished seventh -- plus many more elsewhere including in the Brazilian Series of Poker.

In fact, Garrido cashed enough last year to become the 2014 BSOP Player of the Year, earning him a PokerStars Caribbean Adventure package, buy-ins for all the BSOP Main Events this year, the winner's bracelet, and a new motorcycle.

Along with the story of his great year on the BSOP came an explanation of his avatar -- a picture of his now five-month daughter.

"She was born in September, and I was playing BSOP Natal when my wife first started to go into labor," he explained. "But I was able to leave and get to the hospital in time to be there."

As PokerStars Brazil blogger Sergio Prado (who helped us with our conversation) explained, during the BSOP Player of the Year presentation later Garrido dedicated his win to his new daughter.

"It was very emotional," said Prado, and Garrido nodded with a grin. "We're Brazilians... we cry!"


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Garrido being presented the bracelet for winning 2014 BSOP Player of the Year

Level 3 has begun as early action continues here on Day 1A, with emotions being relatively reserved to match the smallness of the pots. We'll keep watching, though, including to see if Garrido can keep accumulating as he did in that Sunday Million last month.

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.