LAPT San Jose: Bagging and tagging

And there we have it. Day one at the LAPT San Jose event is over. The players have bagged their chips, written down their names and are now doubtless hitting the bar for a nightcap before a long, deep sleep.


The short story is that it was a fine day in San Jose to be called either André or Andrés. Messers Wagner, from Germany, and Ojeda, from Venezuela, are battling for the chip lead, each sitting behind more than 120,000 in chips.


André Wagner gets some help to count his massive stack


Andrés Ojeda, probably top of the pack

They started with 10,000, so that's not a bad day's work. They will return tomorrow with their eyes on a top prize of $274,103, a significant increase on what already broke expectations in Rio a couple of weeks back.

We took an approximate chip count at the end of play, with 86 players left from close to 400 that started. Click HERE to see the count -- official numbers will be available first thing tomorrow.

The amazing turnout here was the first element in a typically dramatic day. We expected about 300, we ended up with 398, and a total prize pool just shy of a million bucks.

The field was stacked full of superstars, some with glittering reputations in the poker fraternity, others best known elsewhere. In the former category, we had Daniel Negreanu, Humberto Brenes, Victor Ramdin, Isabelle Mercier and Andre Akkari, all representing Team PokerStars Pro.

But as we know from all previous tournaments of this stature, reputations often count for little when the cards are in the air. So it proved today, with Negreanu, Brenes, Ramdin and Mercier out of the door before the close of play.

Mercier, in particular, has cause to lament her trip to Costa Rica. She ground all day, but took the walk with five minutes left in the day, when her pocket tens were outdrawn by a couple of players with ace high.


Both of them hit their ace and she was third out of three. No mercy, indeed.

Slightly better news for Akkari, however.


It's been something of a grind, but he'll be back tomorrow, nursing 21,000, and carrying the hopes of Team PokerStars Pro on his shoulders.

Other notable names that didn't make it included Julien Nuijten, the winner in Rio, whose flush was bested by a rivered full house relatively early in the day. We also lost the baseball legends David Wells and Orel Hershiser, "Boomer" and "Bulldog" no match for the tough guys in this town.

Sam Simon, co-creator of "The Simpsons" is on his way back to Springfield after coming up short in San Jose, while Montel Williams is also back to TV land. He was card dead and busted early.

But the old school and the young pretenders are still very much represented. The husband-wife partnership of Max and Maria Stern are both still in this one, and we shouldn't be surprised. Max has three World Series bracelets, Maria has one.


But Maria has the bragging rights tonight: her quad jacks in the final level propelling her to about 81,000, just edging her husband's 17,000.

And from those young guns, Peter Busch, a PokerStars qualifier from the United States, is enjoying himself. He also has more than 100,000 and a good day ahead of him tomorrow. Other qualifiers making waves include Matt "Ch0ppy" Kay, Steven "Zugwat" Silverman and Anthony "holdplz" Spinella, each with more than 70,000.

So, the idea is to play down to a final table of nine tomorrow. With more than 300 falling today, that might seem easy.

But I, for one, doubt it.

Here's a look back on today's action:

Upping the volume
Rooting for the Team
Introducing Larry Hinden
LAPT San Jose in numbers
Keeping watch
The tournament takes shape
Walking the room
Click, click, clatter, clatter

And here's a reminder that you can watch the video blog team's fine work over at

The end of day video blog is here:

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And here is part one of an interview with Team PokerStars Pro Isabelle Mercier, about her travels as a poker player:

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See you all tomorrow.

All photos (c) Joe Giron/IMPDI