LAPT8 Chile: While the home country defends, Argentina's at it again

During the first seven seasons of the Latin American Poker Tour, Chile produced four Main Event champions.

Alex Manzano was the first, winning in Sao Paulo at the start of Season 4. Alirio Diaz followed him to the winner's circle after winning here in Viña del Mar at the beginning of Season 5, then Patricio Rojas won the LAPT Peru Main Event in Season 6.

Last year became the fourth straight in which a Chilean won an LAPT title when Oscar Alache won the LAPT Peru Grand Final in October to conclude Season 7.

The four titles puts Chile in a three-way tie for second on the list of countries' champs. Brazil picked up its fourth title last season when Caio Hey won in his home country, and the U.S. likewise won a fourth two months ago when Josh Kay won the first-ever LAPT Bahamas Main Event.

Chile is unsurprisingly well represented in this event, and so stands a decent chance of perhaps breaking that tie to move into second on the list. Nicolas Fierro certainly did his part yesterday, ending with the Day 1A chip lead. And today another Chilean is making a push, having become the first player to 100,000 on Day 1B.

Starting one year ago -- right here the last time the LAPT visited Viña del Mar -- Carlos Zapata began a streak of collecting several cashes and making a few final tables in Chile tournaments. Today he's collecting chips as well, and sits with a six-figure stack.


Carlos Zapata

The winningest country at the LAPT in its history has been Argentina with eight total, won by six different players. Five of those six are here today and still in action.

LAPT4 Colombia champion Julian Menendez is here, presently sitting with about 45,000.


Julian Menendez

Two-time champion Nacho Barbero is also battling with about 35,000.


Nacho Barbero

The last two winners of LAPT Chile were from Argentina -- Mario Lopez last year and Pablo Tavitian the year before. Lopez has about 23,000 at the moment.


Mario Lopez

Meanwhile Tavitian -- sporting a much different look from a couple of years ago -- is nursing a sub-10,000 stack.


Pablo Tavitian

And two-time LAPT champion Fabian Ortiz is here, too, although like Tavitian finds himself in the danger zone chip-wise.


Fabian Ortiz

That leaves just one Argentinian champion unaccounted for -- although in truth we accounted for him earlier -- Team PokerStars Pro, LAPT5 Panama champion, and soon-to-be-father Leo Fernandez.

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.