LAPT8 Uruguay: Country captains

Oscar Alache scored his first tournament cash just two years ago but quickly rose to become Chile's fourth highest-earning player.

Alache is just a few thousand dollars shy of breaking the $500,000 mark and is currently leading the LAPT8 Player of the Year race.

"It's a hard race," Alache said. "And I obviously want to win but I feel I've already reached a prestigious score that I'm proud of.

"But hopefully it goes well here and I can get the title in Brazil."

Aside from the events here in LAPT8 Uruguay, players can collect POY points in the Grand Final in São Paulo in November.

While poker has been exploding in Brazil and growing quickly in Argentina, Alache said there hasn't been much growth in Chile.

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Oscar Alache

"There aren't as many players [in Chile] as in Brazil or Argentina," Alache said. "I think Chileans still just associate it with casinos and not as a game of skill."

Alache says he hopes he can help change this view.

"I don't want really want to be a poker celebrity," Alache said. "I just want to help people understand the game more and see that you can make it far if you try."

As Alache said, Brazilians and Argentinians have already realized this en masse and are flocking to the game.

Several of them flocked here to Punta del Este, which is conveniently sandwiched between the two countries.

Some players from the Argentinian contingent include Jose Ignacio Barbero, who became the first player to win two LAPT titles after winning back-to-back tournaments in LAPT3 Uruguay and LAPT3 Peru.

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Jose Ignacio "Nacho" Barbero

To his left is another staple of Argentinian poker, Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez.

Fernandez has an LAPT title of his own after he won LAPT5 Panama and came close to another major victory after he finished 2nd in the 2011 PCA High Roller.

While several of Fernandez's countrymen are in the field, his red-spade brethren have yet to take a seat this tournament.

In fact, they're probably seated about five miles in the air somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean.

Both Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari and Friend of PokerStars Felipe Ramos are currently on their way from Barcelona and will play tomorrow.

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Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari, currently in transit

There's no lack of Brazilians though.

Among them is Bruno Politano, who brought a sea of yellow and green to Las Vegas after he made the 2014 November Nine.

Politano was the first Brazilian player to make the November Nine but chances are good he won't be the last.

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Bruno Politano

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

Alexander Villegas is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

Alex Villegas
@PokerStars in Latin American Poker Tour