LAPT8 Panama: At the center of it all

Panama is the closest thing our planet has to a bellybutton.

It's hot, humid, has an impassable mass of dense foliage to the south and it's smack-dab in the middle of North and South America.

This convenient belly button-like geographical location makes Panama a worldwide transit hub. The airport has several direct flights from North and South America, facilitating transit to things like Latin American Poker Tournaments. ALso, its slender waistline made it an ideal location for a canal.

In fact, the canal is going through an expansion which is expected to finish next year.

While it's unlikely that increased canal capacity will have an affect on tournament entries, its convenient location between the two continents makes it one of the most diverse LAPT stops.

Registration is now closed for day 1a and the number of entries is up to 155.

Several of those were South American poker pros, including Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez and Andre Akkari.

Both Team Pros have won side events at the LAPT but Fernandez is the only one with a main event victory after taking down LAPT5 Panama.

Akkari does have a WSOP bracelet though.

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Team Pro staredown

When it comes to the World Series of Poker, Brazil's Bruno Politano has the largest single payday of any player in the field.

Politano made the WSOP final table last year and finished 8th, earning $947,172.

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Bruno Politano

Representing a more northern America is Team PokerStars Pro Christian De Leon, from Mexico. De Leon has several LAPT cashes and one LAPT final table.

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Christian De Leon

Hailing from further north is Brooklyn's Ari Engel.

Engel has more than $2 million in tournament cashes, dozens of tournament cashes and several tournament victories. He only has one tournament cash in Latin America though.

Engel is hoping to at least double that number here in Panama.

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Ari Engel

If we go further north, we find the cold lands of Canada. Both Shakeeb Kazemipur and Francois Lincourt traveled down from Calgary to play LAPT Panama.

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Shakeeb Kazemipur

Despite the influx from northern and southern extremities the tournament has yet to see a player from across the Pacific or Atlantic.

Out of the 155 entries, only about 75 players remain. All those who busted will still have a chance to play again tomorrow though.
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For multilingual coverage, check out our Spanish PokerStars Blog and our Brazilian PokerStars Blog. If you're more of a watcher, head over to LAPT Live to check out the live stream. Updates are also available on the LAPT Facebook page.

All photos are snapped by Carlos Monti and all words are clacked by Alexander Villegas.