LAPT Punta del Este: Alex F and Alex B
Every poker tour has its own identity that differentiates it from many of the others. Most obviously, the various tours visit numerous different cities where they charge differing buy-ins catering for every bank balance. But there is also something less tangible, a feel or a flavour that characterises the different occasions and marks them out as unique to a particular tour.
These intangibles, in turn, attract particular players and we have already grown used to seeing familiar faces over and over again on the LAPT. So much so, that these players themselves have now become LAPT icons; the players are as much a part of the furniture as anything else. Falling into this category are the likes of Alex "Assassinato" Fitzgerald, a player who also represents the changing face of poker and its new young pretenders who have been shaking up the establishment for a few years now.
Alex "Assassinato" Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald, from Seattle, Washington, makes his major money around the online tables of PokerStars, but has to travel to get his bricks and mortar fix as he is not yet old enough to play in his native United States. No worries: his father is married to a Brazilian woman, which gives him every excuse to travel to Latin America for the LAPT, brushing up on his Portuguese as he goes. Indeed, his online screen-name "Assassinato" means "assassinator" in Portuguese, just in case anyone is struggling to translate that one.
"He knows how to tell a woman she's beautiful; he knows how to order a beer," said our own Portuguese-language expert, the PokerStars Brazil blogger Maria (whose work, incidentally, you can find HERE, in that incomprehensible tongue.)
"It's terrivel!" Fitzgerald said of his own grasp of the language. "But I love travelling and I love Latin America. It's just so relaxed, you know."
We do know, but it's sometimes not so much fun, as Fitzgerald himself can testify. He was cruising towards the final table in Rio earlier this season, but received a horrible beat to knock him out. "I would have traded all the money I earnt just to have had a chance to play the final table," Fitzgerald said. And although that's the kind of platitude you hear quite often in poker rooms, Fitzgerald clearly means it. He's one resolute, focused and very capable performer, currently with about 30,000 in chips in Punta del Este and a his eyes firmly fixed on the title.
Fitzgerald shared some of his views of the LAPT with our video blog team before play began today:
Watch LAPT Punta del Este: Alexander Fitzgerald on PokerStars.tv
There's more where that came from over at PokerStars.tv
Another fixture on the LAPT is the family Brenes, from Costa Rica. Although big brother Humberto, of Team PokerStars Pro, often takes most of the limelight, his younger brother Alex Brenes has outperformed Humberto so far on the tour.
Alex finished sixth in the season opener in Rio, and while he was busted by his own nephew (Humberto's son, of course) in San Jose, he is back in the thick of it here.
And he's been prospering. At latest count, Alex has somewhere north of 100,000 in chips, which is chip leader territory. One to watch, as usual.