LAPT Punta del Este: Day 1 is done
Something like a month ago, the chances are that most poker players will have never heard of Punta del Este, Uruguay. Similarly, most residents of Punta del Este, Uruguay, probably didn't know that much about poker. But this week, thanks to the PokerStars Latin America Poker Tour (LAPT), the two have come together in a happy union.
The first day of this, the final event of the first season of the LAPT, has been as good as any in what has already been a spectacular success story. The good news is that we still have two days left until we wrap.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Today was due to begin at noon and we expected about 300 players. However, as midday came and went, there were 351 players snaking around the exterior of the Mantra Resort, Spa and Casino.
By 1pm, each had put up the $2,500 entry fee to create a prize pool of more than $850,000. The first prize is $241,735 and 33 players will be in profit come the end.
As usual, the field included some of the heavyweights of the world game, a huge number of PokerStars qualifiers, and some hardy locals aiming for a shot at the big time. In the first category were the Team PokerStars Pros Greg Raymer, Vanessa Rousso, Humberto Brenes, Alexandre Gomes, Barry Greenstein, Chad Brown and Andre Akkari. While the cards did not fall in the favour of Greenstein, Brown and Akkari, the first four of those big names are all still well in the hunt, with Raymer, in particular, enjoying the trip to Latin America.
The 2005 World Champion won a huge pot with kings against ace-king, then busted Akkari with aces against queens. That catapulted him to the chip lead and close to 85,000 in chips, a level he maintained through the end of the day.
Brenes, of course, loves playing poker and he loves playing it on Latin American soil better than anywhere else in the world. He struggled through the early levels, plunging to a low of about 5,000 in chips, but once the feature table had been assembled and he'd been invited to sit around it, the comeback began.
Brenes bagged up 53,000 in chips come closing time, and the shark is well in the hunt.
(As a side point, that wasn't quite enough to be the most chipped-up Brenes in Punta del Este, however. That accolade went to Humberto's brother Alex Brenes, who is our probable overnight chip leader, with 110,000.)
World Series bracelet winner Alexandre Gomes has become a big attraction on the South American poker scene after his fantastically successful sojourn to Las Vegas this summer.
And the spotlight suits Gomes well: the most recent addition to Team PokerStars Pro was still sitting pretty among the 95 finishers, with 31,000.
Vanessa "Lady Maverick" Rousso, meanwhile, ended the day with just less than 20,000, no mean feat given that she played alongside the formidable Raymer all day.
The most up-to-date approximate chip counts can be found HERE. A full, official count will be made available by the tournament staff overnight, and they will appear in exactly the same place when we have them. The payout schedule for the event can be found HERE.
As usual, the PokerStars video bloggers have also been out and about in the tournament room, and have talked to plenty of the major players here. The LAPT San Jose champion Valdemar Kwaysser was the latest to share his thoughts:
Watch LAPT Punta del Este: Valdemar Kwaysser (b) on PokerStars.tv
More video blogs can be found over at PokerStars.tv
In case you missed it, here's how the day played out in Punta del Este:
Tomorrow's fun starts at noon, when they will return to play level 10 with blinds at 600-1,200 and a 100 ante. They'll play down to the final nine. Be sure to join us.
All photographs (c) Joe Giron/IMPDI