LAPT8 Peru: Panama winner Kazemipur keeping it fun

"What's the next one... Uruguay?"

The question was directed to Fernando Obando, one of the TDs roaming the tables here on the second floor of the Atlantic City casino today. It had come from a grinning Shakeeb Kazemipur, and Obando nodded, affirming that the tour would next be visiting Punta del Este in September.

We might ascribe the cause of Kazemipur's smile to his having finished the last LAPT Main Event with all of the chips, a big shiny trophy, and a nifty $180,112 prize for winning at the Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino in Panama City.

But truth be told, Kazemipur is practically always smiling, or at least sporting a mischievous look. And talking and often laughing, too, one of many players here today obviously enjoying spending the day around a poker table.


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We asked the Canadian to recount the experience of winning in Panama.

"It was my first LAPT," he began. "The first thing that stood out was that once we got to the Sortis and got to the room -- it was just such a really fancy hotel. It kind of persuaded us to want to start looking into a lot more PokerStars events because the Sortis was so great. I'm probably going to go back to Panama and play some smaller events with some of my friends, because it was such a sweet place and there was a lot of good cash game action."

So far so good. But then came the poker, which for a day in Panama did its best to wipe that grin away.

"Day 1A was probably one of the worst Day Ones I've ever played," he said, shaking his head. "I fired four bullets. I lost ace-king to queens, then queens to ace-king, then ace-king to tens, and then tens to ace-king... I mean everything was going wrong."

Fortunately for Kazemipur, he'd qualified multiple times for the event online, and so had those extra entries to use. "Eventually, though, I couldn't enter anymore on Day 1A," he explained, "and so I got to sleep early."

With a new day came a new perspective, rounded into shape by another short session on the virtual felt.

"I woke up and played a little online the next morning as a warm-up," said Kazemipur. "While I did, I thought back about my play on Day 1A and realized that I was trying to force it in too many spots. I was getting in too many big blinds and not really realizing my edge against the field."

"So on Day 1B I took a bit more of a small-ball approach, instead of pushing every edge -- kind of like what people say you should do in the WSOP Main. And I just ran really well. I won a 50K pot at 100/200 with ace-king versus ace-ten, getting it in preflop (I had no idea how the guy had ace-ten there)."

"I had a really good table, too, with these really funny Venezuelan guys. It was the kind of table that you wanted to stick with. It had kind of a home-game feel, both skill-wise and in terms of the amount of fun we were having."

Things continued to go Kazemipur's way thereafter, and he'd end both Day 1B and Day 2 as chip leader, then had the second-best stack to start the final table before ending the night on top.

Kazemipur spoke further about the fun had at the tables in Panama, and that he's already clearly been having today here in Lima.

"Everyone is so passionate," he said, noting again how much players seem to enjoy themselves and drawing a contrast with a recent event he played in Montreal where everyone was "way too serious," thereby making for a much less pleasant experience.

Kazemipur and his friends remained in Panama for a couple of weeks after his victory, then he went backpacking across South America right up until this week.

"I haven't really been able to look at the trophy at all," he added, rounding out his Panama story. "As soon as I won, I sent it back to Canada the day after, so I haven't had the chance to enjoy sitting back and looking at this big silver trophy."

"Hopefully I'll just win one here -- then I can look at it all the way back!"

A line delivered with a grin, natch.

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Photography from LAPT8 Peru by Carlos Monti. You can also follow the action in Spanish here and in Portuguese here.

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.