LAPT Punta del Este: Taking stock at the break
The second level of the day has just drawn to a close, giving the players a 15-minute window to get out into the cool winter air and smoke a cigarette, else dash to the bathroom, pick up a drink, do a few press ups, call home, or sometimes all of the above.
The break also gave us the chance to take stock of the early movement in these embryonic stages, tracking the early chip leaders, the hasty bust outs and the steady progress of the tournament notables. In the first two categories, which tend to go hand in hand, table ten has emerged as the place to be. Three of the top five stacks are seated around that table: Jose Carlos Homero, with 24,000; PokerStars qualifier Lasse Pedersen with 26,000; and Damian Andres Salas with 32,000.
PokerStars qualifier Lasse Pedersen, from Denmark
Damian Andres Salas: the early chip leader
Each was coy when questioned as to how they got their chips, but early double ups usually mean early eliminations and there was rumours of a straight versus higher straight to put Homero in profit and a flopped two-pair versus a flopped set of sevens for Salas. We'll keep an eye on all of them to see if they can consolidate their early progress or go the same way as the vanquished.
Elsewhere, Mario Bonanata also has a decent stack of 25,000 at last count. And he's sitting a few seats down from Valdemar Kwaysser, who got his tournament going with a double up courtesy of queens versus ace-king. An early table of death featuring Team PokerStars Pros Greg Raymer and Vanessa Rousso alongside LAPT San Jose final table player Joe Ebanks got a little lighter on fearsomeness when Ebanks became one of the first out the door.
Joe Ebanks: Ebusted
Raymer, Rousso and team-mates Andre Akkari, Alexandre Gomes, Humberto Brenes, Chad Brown and Barry Greenstein are all comfortably in the pack.
We're currently updating our chip counts page, and will endeavour to do so at regular intervals from now until the close of play. It's still very, very early, so expect big changes over the coming hours as the tournament takes shape.
At time of typing, the tournament staff believe that 351 players entered, of which 325 remain. Originally, they were playing 11 handed, with overspill tables housed upstairs in the casino proper. Those have now been broken, meaning everyone is at least in the same room. It's a bit of a tight squeeze, with no room for spectators at present. So you really do have the best seat in the house.