LAPT8 Panama: The Protégé
It's not often you see a Ukranian model cashing in an LAPT.
A quick survey among LAPT staff suggests Olga Ermolcheva is probably the first.
Chances are good that they'd remember.
But Ermolcheva is a poker player first, a student of Russian literature second and a model third.
Ermolcheva started playing online poker by accident years ago, just fiddling around with play money. Since then, Ermolcheva played live across Europe and online as alfaromea.
As alfaromea, Ermolcheva has racked up more than $160,000 in tournament earnings on PokerStars. As Olga Ermolcheva, she's amassed nearly $100,000 in live tournament earnings, including a victory in a €500 NLHE side event in EPT11 Barcelona.
On top of that, Ermolcheva was one of the PokerStars Protégés. Ermolcheva was one of the four selected and she apprenticed under her countryman, Eugene Katchalov.
This is Ermolcheva's first time in Latin America and she's barely had time to do anything besides poker, as evidenced by her fair complexion.
Ermolcheva flew in directly from the EPT11 Grand Final.
"I got in just before registration closed yesterday," Ermolcheva said. "I've only been outside to go to the supermarket."
But Iermolcheva hopes to hold off on the Panamanian outdoors for a bit longer. Ermolcheva has more than double the average stack with just 45 players left.
Even after this tournament, Ermolcheva plans on using Panama's convenient time zone to grind the SCOOP.
After that, she's off to Europe to play in the Eureka Poker Tour.
One place Ermolcheva won't be able to play is in her native Ukraine. Ermolcheva used to play in casinos in the Ukraine but she says that due to the unrest, there hasn't been a poker tournament in the Ukraine for about a year-and-a-half.
There's plenty of poker left for Ermolcheva here in Panama though.
Ermolcheva and the final 45 players are now on a 75-minute dinner break and will be back to play four more levels or until they get down to the final 32.
Shakeeb Kazemipur is still in the lead with close to 800,000.
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.