LAPT8 Panama: Welcome to the Hotel Latin America
The Latin American Poker Tour has been known to change lives.
Aside from the often life-changing six-figure payouts to its champions, the LAPT introduces several players to Latin America.
Many online players plan on coming down to play an event they qualified for but end up starting a whole new life.
One of the most notable cases is Carter Gill.
Years ago, Gill was famous for his drinking antics in an industry known for its drinking antics. Gill was once banned --and then un-banned-- from Harrah's properties while he was still in the WSOP Main Event.
Gill kept playing live and online throughout Latin America and matured from tournament to tournament. Gill now has a Colombian wife and an Oregonian/Colombian son. The small, young family splits their time between Colombia, Oregon and poker.
While Gill's antics have calmed down, a new boisterous player with plans to explore Latin America has emerged.
Canada's Shakeeb "njåguar" Kazemipur is playing his first LAPT today.
Kazemipur is only 20 so he hasn't had the chance to get banned from the WSOP, but he was banned from the PokerStars chatbox. That ban was momentarily lifted when Kazemipur made the Sunday Million final table a few weeks ago.
Kazemipur, a finance and law student at the University of Calgary, won the Sunday Million for $183,000 and decided to his show on the road.
Kazemipur has played a few events throughout Canada and went to Europe for EPT Monaco, but he's trying to make his visit here more than poker.
"I'm trying to build a trip off of it," Kazemipur said. "Come here and then go backpacking after the SCOOP, around Bolivia and Brazil and stuff."
Another novelty for Kazemipur is the new player pool that predominantly speaks a different language.
"It's definitely weird because when I'm playing in North America, I know a lot of people, but here, everyone's an unknown," Kazemipur said. "It's good because I'm also an unknown so it kind of plays to my advantage."
Kazemipur hasn't seen much of Latin America yet since he just flew in last night, but he says he probably won't follow Gill's footsteps of settling down in Latin America.
Kazemipur --and most players on the tour-- would like to emulate Gill's results on the LAPT though. Gill has six LAPT cashes, including two final tables and a victory. Gill finished 4th in LAPT6 Panama and then won LAPT6 Uruguay for $238,260 less than two months later.
Four months after that, Gill won a tournament in Panama and scored another six-figure payday.
Gill was in the field today but already busted. That won't stop him from firing another bullet though.
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.