LAPT Grand Final: No country for old men

lapt-promo.gifThe PokerStarsBlog team here in Sao Paulo is comprised of a bunch of old men (though we often don't act like it). When Day 1 play at the LAPT Season 4 Grand Final concluded just after midnight last night, we were knackered. The combination of a red-eye flight on Wednesday night and a night of what I like to call "imbibery" on Thursday left us as bleary-eyed walking dead when the chip bags came out. For once, we did the sensible thing that old men do when they've slept for only six hours across two nights: we retired to our rooms.

But this is Brazil. During Carnival. The paulistanos had no intention of knocking off that early.

Faint sounds of percussion from a nearby bloco (block party) drifted up to my 9th floor hotel window as I started to get ready for bed. The rhythmic spell they wove was enough to convince me to take a spin through Brazilian TV before I got some shut-eye.

It's hard to describe the mixture of captivation and confusion that Carnival coverage created for me. I was captivated because the samba parades are a swirl of perfectly choreographed color, costumes, dancing and music, in many cases performed by people whose bodies seem built specifically for this holiday. I was confused because, as a foreigner, a part of me couldn't tap into the cultural mindset that lifted this whole affair from "a bunch of people dancing" to "the greatest annual holiday in Brazil". Make no mistake - it is a big deal. No fewer than eight channels were devoting coverage to Carnival at 1am.

It made me wonder what Day 1 overnight chip leaders Jean Picanco (189,400) and Robinson Carnero Quirouga (187,100) were up to. Both are Brazilians making what I understand to be a major sacrifice by skipping some of the Carnival festivities to play in the Grand Final.

The good news for us old men, for the 260 players that were knocked out of this tournament yesterday, and for the 83 players that will be knocked out before today's Day 2 ends, is that the Carnival party in Sao Paulo is going to continue tonight. The Team PokerStars Pros that are on site - including the still-in-the-tournament Daniel Negreanu (121,700), Jose Barbero (65,200), Humberto Brenes (59,000) and Leo Fernandez (41,700) - will be marching at 5am tonight in a mini samba parade with a samba school of their own.


Humberto Brenes (left) was not taking any lip from Leo Fernandez yesterday.

As for us bloggers, we're in the process of securing ourselves tickets in the cheap seats at the Sambódromo - a stadium built specifically for the Samba parades during Carnival - in order to continue our cross-cultural exploration of this amazing holiday. And to engage in some imbibery.

Even though we're old men who have to work tomorrow, we prefer not to act like it.

Dave Behr
@PokerStars in Grand Final