LAPT9 Chile: Strong start, strong finish! Rodrigo Strong claims title and $120,565
Over the last few days, we've mentioned a few different themes throughout our coverage of the LAPT9 Chile Main Event. Through both Day 1 flights, we talked about two-time LAPT champions, one of which was defending his title here in Vina del Mar, and a handful of players that were either coming off big scores or were looking to record their first real breakout score in this event.
Heading into Day 2, that focus shifted toward the revenants, the players coming back for 'moving day' after being left for dead with a short opening flight stack. While a handful of players at this final table rose from the ashes during Day 2 and even Day 3, Rodrigo Strong was the one trying to bury them. The Brazilian was the first player to break the 1,000,000 chip mark yesterday and from that point until the final table, he scored knockout after knockout, winning nearly every all-in encounter he found himself involved in en route to ending the night with the eight-handed chip lead.
He turned that chip lead into a victory today, starting strong and finishing even stronger but it wasn't a wire to wire finish, or easy by any means. Through the first few levels at this final table, Strong kept his big stack growing, minus the bounties like the previous day. That was Richard Dubini's job, as the Argentine sent Aqviles Espinoza to the rail in 7th place, after Day 2 chip leader Ricardo Malamala sent Carlos Pohmajevic to the rail in 8th with pocket aces. When play was five-handed, Strong was dealt his first bit of adversity in over 36 hours. Right after Matamala and his short stack bowed out in 6th place, Strong doubled up Fabian Chauriye and was, like we've seen so many times, left for dead.
Keeping to LAPT9 Chile script, Strong returned from the dead, which in this case was just over a two big blind stack, never losing his focus and grinding his way back up the leaderboard. As he ascended, Roberly Felicio and Richard Dubini fell, each getting sent to the rail by Fabian Chauriye. The Chilean then sent Alex Vega out in 3rd and after a deal was agreed upon heads up, Strong got to work again.
He won a flip to regain the chip lead and after that, he never looked back. He won a few more pots to extend his lead and then, finally came back to dispatch the player that had attempted to kill him, turning a flush to eliminate Chauriye in second place, a year after he finished 6th in the LAPT8 Chile Main Event.
The Chilean runner-up was trying to redeem himself from last year and as this final table progressed, likely had visions of himself in the winner's circle. While Chauriye might have been thinking that for the last few hours, Rodrigo Strong has been thinking of this moment for his entire life.
Until recently, the Brazilian was an online player but after seeing that he was not progressing in poker how he'd like, he made the decision to change his entire life. He moved to Barcelona, Spain, he stopped drinking, he stopped partying and he changed everything about his poker game as well. He spent a full year working on the mental side of his game, knowing that that was the missing piece to his poker puzzle.
"I worked on the technical side of my game for ten years but I knew something was still missing." Strong said, adding that he battled with an ego and lack of self confidence before his move to Spain. That move looks to be working out, as Strong won the Spanish Poker Millions Main Event in December for just over $50,000 and since then, he's taken to the live tournament circuit.
"Everyone starts watching final tables on YouTube, seeing poker on television, trophies, cameras." he said, while admitting that the competitive atmosphere around live poker is something he's always loved. He never got that during those years of online grinding and while he still plays nearly every day on PokerStars.es when he's home, he's certainly getting used to the winner's circle and hitting all the stops en route to his bigger goals.
Those bigger goals include continuing to travel the world, to some of poker's biggest events and now, fresh off an over $120,000 score, he's got his eyes set on the European Poker Tour. Strong lives off competition but he has to admit, that it doesn't matter who is at his table, his only opponent is himself.
He beat himself and also some of South America's best this week, en route to his first LAPT title and best career tournament score. That concludes the PokerStars blog's coverage of the LAPT9 Chile Main Event and a complete results list can be found through the links on the right hand side of this page. A recap of the final table can be found here as well.
LAPT9 Chile Main Event
Dates: March 4-8, 2016
Prize pool: $737,325
|1||Rodrigo Strong||Brazil||$ 120,565*|
|2||Fabian Chauriye||Chile||$ 110,000*|
|3||Alex Vega||Chile||$ 63,560|
|4||Richard Dubini||Argentina||PokerStars Player||$ 49,540|
|5||Roberly Felicio||Brazil||$ 38,860|
|6||Ricardo Matamala||Chile||$ 30,520|
|7||Andres Espinoza||Chile||$ 22,780|
|8||Carlos Pohmajevic||Argentina||$ 15,780|
* Indicates a heads-up deal was made
Photos courtesy of Carlos Monti.
You can play poker for free on PokerStars. Simply click here to open an account.