LAPT San Jose: Walking the room
There are 40 tables packed into the function suite of the Cariari Country Club for today's tournament, and ten players around each means we're already at the 400 players mark. The tournament staff inform me that there's a list of eager alternates waiting to earn their shot, so we will probably get somewhere near 420.
Here are a few of the players we'll be following, either to the final table or out of the door.
Representing Team PokerStars Pro
Click names for full profiles
Needs no introduction to anyone who has ever picked up a poker chip. Kid Poker is one of the all-time greats, respected and feared in equal measure. He's making his LAPT debut here and few will be betting against him.
Treated like royalty here in Costa Rica, the Team PokerStars Pro is a fun yet fearsome presence in any poker arena. With 49 World Series cashes, including 25 final tables, he has the record to justify all the accolades. (Pictured with Julien Nuijten, who knocked out Brenes en route to success in Rio).
Ramdin is the Team PokerStars Pro in the richest vein of form. He went deep in Rio, just missing out on the final table, and also cashed in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January. Focused, as ever, the New Yorker is looking to make it a hat-trick of cashes.
Another Team PokerStars Pro who played in Rio, Isabelle is looking to cement her reputation as one of the world's best players by picking up some cash in Latin America to add to countless notable results across the globe.
The Brazilian poker superstar who will be a fixture on the LAPT -- and the world scene for many years to come.
Alex Brenes -- The brother of Humberto, who made the final table, finishing fourth, in Rio.
Baseball pitcher, who has played for the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres, among others, in a 20-year career. Pitched up at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January and was among the chip leaders at the end of day one.
Nicknamed "Bulldog" during a glittering baseball career, most notably with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Hershiser was a three-time All-Star selection and won the World Series in 1988, when he was also named World Series MVP.
Max Stern and Maria Stern
With three World Series bracelets to his name, Stern is among the highest ranked players here in Costa Rica. One of the others is his wife, Maria, who also has a World Series bracelet, making the Sterns the only husband-wife team with the prestigious jewelry.
Co-creator of that little known television show "The Simpsons", syndicated in something like a million countries and still the best thing on TV even as it enters its 954th season.
Former Indy car racer in the United States, now a stock car driver and team owner in his native Brazil.
American chat-show host, who is no stranger to the poker tables. Played the WSOP last year and is a regular player in similar-sized tournaments in Vegas.
Julien Nuijten -- Winner of the inaugural LAPT event in Rio two weeks ago, the 19-year-old from Amsterdam has extended his stay in Latin America as he eyes further glory.
Ole Busborg Jensen -- Huge online player and a serial qualifier for the EPT, he has now turned his qualifying genius to the LAPT, making the grade in both Rio and Costa Rica.
Ronnie "Ronasty" Bardah -- Online pro, who rose close to the overnight chip lead in Rio, before a series of shocking beats sent him out before the money.
Piragibe Lindolfo Ataide -- Bubbled in Rio at the start of this month, Piragibe insists he will not be earning that dubious accolade for a second time.
Vitaly Kovyazin -- Runner up to Julien Nujten in Rio, the New Yorker won a last-chance satellite to come to Costa Rica and has the game to go one better.
Adam Small -- Co-founder of the popular online poker database PoketFives, Adam is enjoying a rare chance to play, rather than report, on poker.
* * * * *
As always, there's been some high-profile casualties in the early stages here. None more so than Alex Brenes, who was knocked out of the tournament by a young whipper-snapper by the name of Jose Brenes, or Humberto's son.
Yes, that makes him Alex's nephew, but there was no respect shown to his elders here and we're one Brenes down.