LAPT Punta del Este: Final table profiles
It's the final day on the first season of the Latin America Poker Tour. The final table action is due to start at 1pm local time.
These are the contenders still standing in Punta del Este, Uruguay:
Seat 1: Sidney Chreem, 38, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Known as “flintstom” on PokerStars, Sidney mainly plays tournaments – both live and online. Today’s final table appearance is the best result he’s had so far but he also took sixth place in a Super Tuesday on PokerStars and won a deep stack tournament at the Conrad Casino in Punta del Este. Chreem started off as a backgammon player but, like many backgammon players, found poker more lucrative. Back in Rio, he runs a chain of clothing stores. His wife Silvia couldn’t come to Punta del Este – she’s back home caring for the couple’s two children Laura and Gustavo. “We talk every day though so I can tell her I’m getting on," Chreem said. "I’m in this tournament to win so I expect to do well today.”
Seat 2: Alexandre Gomes, 26, Coritiba, Brazil – Team PokerStars Pro - 763,000 chips
Two years ago, Gomes was fully set on a career as a lawyer. He played poker at home with friends but was committed to his career and was already a partner in a corporate law firm. However once he started playing online poker, he was soon winning big money, including first place in the Wednesday Hundred Fifty Grand for $65,333. Eventually Gomes had to make a choice but doesn’t regret his decision to turn pro. In the past six weeks, his career has soared: first he took down the $2,000 NLHE at this year’s WSOP for an astonishing $770,540; then he was signed to join Team PokerStars Pro and now he is chip leader on the final table at his first ever LAPT. Gomes is a keen sportsman and plays soccer regularly as well as supporting his local team, Coritiba FC. He plays online as 'Allingomes'.
Seat 3: Jose Miguel Espinar, 27, Spain - 675,000 chips
Espinar began playing poker in December 2007 but took to the game instantly. A month later, he found himself at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas. A friend convinced him to leave his job and dedicate himself to poker. It was a good decision: Espinar came 44th at the PCA, winning $24,000. Following that, he played the rest of the European Poker Tour season four events. He came to LAPT Punta del Este with a bunch of Spanish friends but has been the only one to make the money. He reached the final table courtesy of busting Team Poker Stars Pro Vanessa Rousso, who came 10th. Vanessa had the misfortune to find pocket nines against Jose Miguel’s pocket aces.
Seat 4: Lisandro Gallo, 41, Argentina - 465,000 chips
Gallo has been playing poker for ten years both live and online. His recent successes include winning a tournament at the Conrad Casino in Punta del Este in March and also a “Argentinians-only“ tournament on PokerStars. By day, he manages an agricultural products company. Gallo hasn’t had it that easy in this tournament – by the time we reached two tables, he was down to just $40k. But a run of good cards brought him back up to 465,000. Despite this low point, he is still supremely confident he can win. He said: “When I walked in here the first day, I pointed at the final table and told my friends “that table is waiting for me”. Gallo is married to Karina and the couple have three children: Maria Celeste, Maria Eugenia and Juan Paolo.
Seat 5: Paulo Cesar Ribeiro, 47, Belém, Brazil – PokerStars qualifier - 281,000 chips
Ribeiro has played all the LAPTs so far: in Rio he went out on the first day and in Costa Rica he made day two but busted short out of the money. Last Sunday he chopped a tournament in a São Paulo poker room, taking Reais $40,000. This inspired him and his best friend Piragibe to try the third and final LAPT season one event in Punta del Este. Ribeiro started playing Texas hold ’em about a year ago but before that he used to play five-card stud. Known online "PC PORTUGA", Ribeiro has tried not to think about what he'd do with the money if he wins, but would definitely set aside some of it to bankroll more tournaments on the live and international circuit, especially EPTs. He has thoroughly enjoyed the LAPT and now plans to bring the trophy and title back to Brazil.
Seat 6: Gylbert Drolet, 21, Quebec City, Canada – PokerStars qualifier - 691,000 chips
Drolet has been playing poker seriously since he turned 18 three years ago but is already enjoying considerable success. He qualified for both LAPT San José and Punta del Este via the steps satellites on PokerStars. He normally plays online as well as in home games with friends, and prefers tournaments. He has won three $100 online tournaments on PokerStars and also cashed in the Sunday Million around a month ago. He said: “I want to be sponsored and I know I can play really great poker.” Drolet is currently studying technology but will focus on business studies at university. He said: “My parents aren’t that keen on me playing poker but they recognise that I’m pretty good at it.” He is being supported in Punta del Este by his good friend Andreane. He added: “I had a really good feeling about this tournament. It started very badly though. In the first hour, I was dealt kings but ran into aces which took me down to $6k. Despite that setback, I always felt very confident.”
Seat 7: Alex Brenes, 44, San José, Costa Rica - 457,000 chips
Brenes has already set a phenomenal LAPT record by making two final tables in the first three events. He came fourth at the first LAPT in Rio. Alex is the younger brother of Team PokerStars Pro Humberto and has been playing poker for 20 years. He used to watch Humberto and their other brother Eric play home games and when the game shifted to a local casino, he started playing himself. He said: "There was a group of around 30 regulars at the casino. We used to have two tournaments a week and at the end of the year, the top ten on the leader board would play a final table. I won it every year from 1988 to 1996." If he wins today, it won't be his biggest live result – aside from LAPT Rio where he won $62,800, he has come second in two WSOP events, won a WPT title in Los Angeles and a $250,000 first prize in another Las Vegas tournament. Nevertheless, it’s the LAPT title he wants – and which he aims to get today.
Seat 8: Juan Jose Perez, 30, Buenos Aires - 167,000 chips
Perez is a professional player who took up poker four years ago, playing online on PokerStars. He makes most of his money playing cash games, at the 3-6 and 5-10 tables. He also plays live in casinos in Argentina. He has played relatively few tournaments but has thoroughly enjoyed the LAPT. Being short-stacked, Perez plans to play aggressively today. “My only goal is to win.”
As we wait for the final table to start, take a look back on day two courtesy of our video bloggers:
Watch LAPT Punta del Este: End of Day Two on PokerStars.tv