LAPT Punta del Este: The August eight
Once there were 351, now there are eight. The final table for the LAPT event in Punta del Este, Uruguay, has been set. Before we describe how we got there, here are the players who made it. Each is now guaranteed at least $17,025, although all will be eyeing the first prize of $241,735.
Alexandre Gomes, Brazil, Team PokerStars Pro, 763,000
Gylbert Drolet, Canada, PokerStars qualifier, 691,000
Jose Miguel Espinar, Spain, 675,000
Lisandro Gallo, Argentina, 465,000
Alex Brenes, Costa Rica, 457,000
Paulo Ribeiro, Brazil, PokerStars qualifier, 281,000
Juan Jose Perez, Argentina, 167,000
Sidney Chreem, Brazil, 93,000
Of those, at least a couple of names are leaping a mile from the page. Team PokerStars Pro Alexandre Gomes earned a place on the team when he became the first-ever Brazilian to win a World Series bracelet in Las Vegas last month. He came back to his native Latin America as something of a hero. And his performance here, as he bludgeoned his way to the final table as chip leader, has proved already that he is no one-hit wonder.
Gomes was a formidable force today, starting strongly and finishing stronger. He settled the final table late on when he made a mandatory value call against short-stacked Carlos Curi's pre-flop all in. Gomes managed to outdraw the Argentinian and we reached the last eight with his name at the top.
The other familiar face around tomorrow's felt will be Alex Brenes, baby brother of Team PokerStars Pro Humberto Brenes, but an LAPT star in his own right after reaching the final table of the inaugural event in Rio de Janeiro in May. There, he came fourth for $62,800, but a second appearance already consolidates his glittering reputation, whether he betters that score or not.
Typically, the PokerStars qualifiers have also been having a lot of fun here in Punta del Este. Gylbert Drolet, from Canada, was another player on an irrepressible charge to the final table, and his play around both bubbles -- the cash bubble and then the final table bubble -- showed some excellent tournament savvy.
Drolet took out his fair share of players along the way to the second spot on the chip ladder, and with Julien Nuijten and Valdemar Kwaysser before him showing the way to success, the young Canadian will fancy his chances.
Of course, in order to reach this point in the tournament, we have to have shed a great many others, and among the unfortunate fallers today were Team PokerStars Pros Vanessa Rousso, Humberto Brenes and Greg Raymer, who all had high hopes but came up just short.
Rousso, in particular, must be feeling especially disappointed right now after she seemed set for a brilliant final table appearance but ran pocket nines into the aces of Jose Miguel Espinar to bust in tenth. That's a tough pill to swallow, just two from the final table and the biggest bucks.
But after a short cooling off period, Lady Maverick can look back on a spectacular showing here in Punta del Este. And she has $11,065 reasons to be happy.
Humberto Brenes also made the money, his first cash on the LAPT, and it meant a great deal to the Costa Rican poker legend.
Amazingly, this was the first time the Team PokerStars Pro had cashed in a PokerStars-sponsored event, despite about a million lifetime cashes in the World Series. It's been a long time coming, Humberto, but worth the wait.
So it is that we'll reconvene here at noon tomorrow and prepare to play to a champion. The LAPT is almost done for its first season, but the grand finale tomorrow will surely be worth waiting for.
Of course, our video bloggers have also been hard at work in Uruguay following the tournament -- as well as following some of those who are also following the tournament. Nolan Dalla, best known as the media director of the World Series, is vacationing here in Punta del Este and he popped in to take a look at the LAPT and share some of his thoughts:
Watch LAPT Punta del Este: Nolan Dalla on PokerStars.tv
All the work from the video blog team, including an archive of previous coverage, can be found over a PokerStars.tv
All photographs (c) Joe Giron/IMPDI