LAPT Rio: Ones to watch
This might be the first event on a brand new tour, but the stars of the world game already know where to come. There are nine Team PokerStars Pros in the field of more than 300 (official numbers to come) as well as plenty of others equipped to make a charge.
Introducing the field:
(Click Team PokerStars Pros' names for full profiles)
Greg Raymer -- The 2004 World Champion and original member of Team PokerStars Pro, Greg was attracting attention at the party last night for his now-distinctive peach-coloured shirt and white fedora. He's added this to his already-distinctive lizard-eye sunglasses, fossil card protector and fearsome and fearless game. One to watch -- it's impossible not to.
Chris Moneymaker -- The original PokerStars qualifier made good, Moneymaker continues to be a threat on both the live and online tables, building on the most solid of foundations: the 2003 World Championship. Moneymaker has been spotted on the most recent EPT season, and now takes his chances in Brazil.
Andre Akkari -- The home-turf favourite, Andre is lapping up the media attention that seems set to turn him from poker celebrity into all-round mainstream star. Few would begrudge Akkari a decent run here; there couldn't possibly be a more popular winner.
Gavin Griffin -- One of the most recent acquisitions to Team PokerStars Pro, and one of the snuggest fits into that glittering line-up. Griffin was the first person to win the Triple Crown of poker accolades: a WSOP bracelet, an EPT and a WPT title. So far, he's the only one. If he adds an LAPT title to his resume, he'll set a mark that might well never be matched for decades.
Humberto Brenes -- Relishing his time in the spotlight here in Latin America, the Costa Rican -- sharks and all -- is the player everyone is angling for. Beneath the characteristic grin and trademark visor lurks one of the best players in the world game, however. He has WSOP cashes dating back to 1987, two bracelets, and countless further final table appearances.
Isabelle Mercier -- No longer the former card-room manager turned player, Isabelle is a bone fide poker star, continuing to rack up cash after cash in major tournaments. In a rich vein of form after cashing in the $25,000 championship event at the Bellagio last month, Isabelle will be seeking to add LAPT glory to WPT, WSOP and EPT successes.
Victor Ramdin -- The player from the Bronx, New York, burst into the poker public conscious after taking down a WPT title at Foxwoods in 2006. But that triumph was only one among major tournament cashes dating back to 2002. Ramdin made it deep at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January and has every right to fancy his chances in his second jaunt all this way south.
Vanessa Rousso -- Another Team PokerStars Pro on top form, Vanessa made fourth in a side event at the recent EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo, and took down first on the televised "Gus and the Ladies" event, good for $120,000.
Chad Brown -- After being in and around the PokerStars parties for several years, Chad officially became a member of Team PokerStars Pro last month, making his official debut at the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo. A former CardPlayer Player of the Year with multiple major event cashes to his name, Brown is a threat wherever he goes.
Pascal Perrault -- The Parisian is a well-known face on the European scene, with a victory in season one of the EPT to his name, as well as countless other tournament cashes. Known for his regular appearances on the pioneering Late Night Poker television show, Pascal is one of the most respected players in the game.
Lise Vigezzi -- Another player known to the generation of poker fans who grew up watching "Late Night Poker", Lise (also known as "The Pink Lady" or Mrs. Pascal Perrault) is making a rare appearance on the live circuit.
Tony "Texpert" Nikaj -- Big-time online cash player from New York, who occasionally turns his hand to multi-table tournaments to great success. Took down the $5,200 freezeout on PokerStars a few weeks back, good for $100,000.
Peter Gould -- Well-known British player with three cashes on both the EPT and at the WSOP. Here with his son, Josh, who is also playing as a PokerStars qualifier.
Galter Salles -- Brazilian stock-car racing driver and team owner, turned poker player. Sponsored by PokerStars here in his native Brazil.