LAPT Grand Final: How I got trapped by the Player of the Year race

lapt-promo.gifThe calculus of a Player of the Year race is hard for a writer to fully appreciate. There's math involved, and mixing a blogger and a calculator is like trying to cook methamphetamine on a Tilt-a-Whirl.

That's why I went looking for somebody who can do math without risking injury or a short stay in a mental facility. To find him, I had to pass three armed guards in Kevlar vests. They stood sentry in front of the room here where they keep the important calculators. Inside was a man we'll call--to protect his privacy--Blue Rabbit.

"I need the latest Player of the Year numbers," I said.

Blue Rabbit sized me up as if he was wondering if I could handle the math. Finally, he spoke, rattling off names and numbers at such a pace my pen could barely keep up. What he revealed as he spoke was that the Player of the Year race remained just about anybody's game.

Going into the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final this weekend, the race for LAPT player of the year was separated by just a few points. One person min-cashing in an event could swing the PoY race their way.

Now, I didn't take on this mission without purpose. If I was going to brave the men with the sidearms, it was going to be for a reason. In this case, it was what I'd just seen happen at Engelberth Varela's table.


Engelberth Varela

When the main event started, Varela was in fifth place on the Player of the Year leaderboard. A few minutes before I sought out Blue Rabbit, Varela had won a giant hand with sevens full versus trip-kings. Now, Varela had the chip lead with fewer than 80 players remaining. Not only was he a virtual lock to cash, he had a legit shot at deep run that would rack up some big Player of the Year points. I just wanted to see how close it would be.

"Raul Pino picked up 150 points yesterday," Blue Rabbit said. "Pablo (Gonzalez) got 200."

I tried to do the math in my head. Gonzalez was the leader when play started yesterday, so he had extended his lead by the equivalent of a top 20-finish in the main. Pino, meanwhile, started this week tied for tenth place and would need a lot more to catch the top players (you can see the full leaderboard HERE).

There is more than pride at stake here. The winner of the Player of the Year award gets buy-ins to all of the Season 5 events. The first event of that season begins a month from now in Vina de Mar, Chile. Satellites are already running on PokerStars, but whoever wins Player of the Year won't have to worry about that.

So, I wandered back to Varela to see how he was doing. On my way, Blue Rabbit caught me.

"We need to bet on this," Blue Rabbit said. "You can have Engleberth and I'll take three others."

I felt the trap. Blue Rabbit had sized me up and realized I would jump on the hero of the moment instead of studying the hard numbers. I knew I was getting screwed.

"Three others?" I said. "Please."

Nobody plays Brad Willis like that.

"Okay," he said, "I will give you three others and take Engelberth."

My head started to spin. What was happening? I knew there was a trap, but I didn't know where it was. It was if I was given a choice between Door #1 and Door #2 and behind both was a Blue Rabbit with his middle fingers extended. I stood paralyzed by the choice.

"Fine," I said. "I'll take Engelberth. You take three."

If you've never heard a Blue Rabbit laugh maniacally, just know that you don't want to. To my credit, I knew what had happened before the rabbit laughter stopped. I'd been played. By a rabbit.

Blue Rabbit took Pablo Gonzalez, Daniel Ospina, and Leandro Csome. With his trap sprung, the Blue Rabbit wandered into his burrow, mentally counting my money as he went.

If math is the universal language, I might as well be a deaf mute.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in Grand Final