LAPT Lima: Kemal Ferri from Peru surges to victory
Our week in Lima, Peru has been nothing short of wonderful. On our first evening here, we were treated to a hospitable welcome party alongside the ancient ruins of the Huaca Pucllana pyramid. We had the rare opportunity to tour the ruins at night and learned about early Peruvian culture, particularity the fact that the base of the pyramid was used for human sacrifice and other rituals to worship the ocean gods and their deceased ancestors. When we returned to the festivities, we were entertained by traditional Peruvian dancers and musicians playing Incan woodwinds and percussion. Oh, and how could we forget the succulent ceviche and a never-ending flow of Pisco Sours that began on Wednesday and has not stopped flowing.
My colleague Martin Harris pointed out pucllana, from the name of the Huaca Pucllana pyramid, was a derivative of the word games. Fitting, we all thought, that Lima was the epicenter for ritualistic games as many as 1,500 years ago. Flash forward to 2011. Payers from over thirty countries converged on the plush Atlantic City Casino, located in the hip and bustling Miraflores neighborhood, to determine poker excellence and who would win the LAPT Lima championship.
Last year's champion, Team PokerStars Pro Jose "Nacho" Barbero from Argentina, had a daunting task ahead of him this year -- fade a field of 350 runners in order to become the first repeat champion on the LAPT. Unfortunately for Nacho, his time in the tournament was short-lived when he busted out in the middle of Day 1.
Daniel Ospina from Colombia finished first in chips at the end of Days 1, 2, and 3. He held the overall lead for a significant part of the tournament, but started the final table with the slimmest of leads after the last woman standing, Samar Hodali embarked on an epic run late on Day 3 to thrust herself within striking distance of the leader.
The final eight players returned for action Sunday and the tournament room at the Atlantic City Casino filled up with friends and family of the remaining players. Everyone was curious which player was going to be the last one standing -- not to mention $207,400 richer.
The final table got off to a slow start until Pablo Gonzales picked up the pace. On a flop of J♠7♦2♥, Gonzales got it all-in against Samar Hodali. He held middle set with a pair of sevens against Hodalis bottom set of deuces. He doubled up and leap-frogged into second overall in chips behind Ospina. It wouldn't be much longer before Gonzales stripped the lead away from Ospina and raced toward 2 million. Meanwhile, Ospina slipped under 1 million and fell into downward spiral, but couldn't pull himself out.
Team PokerStars Online player Karlo Lopez became the first player to bust off the final table. He was getting short-stacked and made a move with 4♥3♦, but he picked the worst possible time to bluff. Zepeda woke up with pocket Aces and that's all she wrote for the Puerto Rican online pro. Lopez earned $15,480 for his eighth place finish.
In a bit of dejua vu, Daniel Ospina picked a horrible spot to make a move. He open-shoved for his last 420,000 holding 5♣4♥, but Kemal Ferri found Aces in the big blind. Ferri flopped top set and successfully faded an open-ended straight draw. Daniel Ospina failed to go wire-to-wire. He finished in seveth place and collected $23,220.
The theme of the final table continued -- small stacks making moves with air and running into monsters in the blinds. Leonardo Zepeda fell into that trap when he shoved with 9♥6♦ and got ambushed by Samar Hodali's pocket Queens in the big blind. Hodali's ladies held up and Zepeda was eliminated in 6th place. The Chilean pro won $30,960 for sixth place.
Raul Pino had been rather quiet all afternoon until he shifted gears and snagged the lead from Kemal Ferri. He added more chips to his stack when he took out Samar Holdai. The last woman standing, a popular local player from Lima, found herself flipping for her tournament life with pocket sixes against Raul Pino's K♣Q♠. The K♥ on the river sealed Hodali's fate, but to the dismay of pro-Hodali supporters on the rail. She finished in fifth place for a $38,700 score. In an interesting side note, Hodali made history by tying Brazil's Daniella Zapiello (LAPT Uruguay - Season 3) for the highest finish for a woman in an LAPT event.
With four to go, Raul Pino emerged as the man to beat, but Kemal Ferri stood in his way. Ferri heated up quickly to inch closer and closer to Pino's big stack. On the very next hand after Hodali's elimination, Michel Barham was all-in against Ferri. They were racing. Ferri's 6♠6♦ held up against Barham's A♠Q♦, despite the fact that Barham had picked up redraws to both a nut flush and a gutshot. Barham never got there and the local player from Lima busted out in 4th, collecting won $54,180.
With three to go, Pino led with 3.5 million. Ferri trailed with 2.4 million and Pablo Gonzales brought up the rear with 1.1 million.
Pablo Gonzales's LAPT Lima came to an abrupt end when his K♥Q♠ failed to improve Kemal Ferri's A♦4♥. Gonzales, from Colombia, finished in third place and earned $73,540.
By the time heads-up began, Ferri had overtaken Pino for the lead. Pino style of play could be described as extremely methodical. He acted cool and calm for the duration of the tournament, however, after the first few hands of heads-up play, Pino looked visibly frustrated. He apparently went card dead and was unable to ward off an relentless assault from Ferri. In the first ten hands of heads-up play, Ferri opened up a 2 million chip advantage. Over the next 25 hands, Ferri increased his lead to a 6-1 margin. At one point Pino folded his small blind three times in a row.
And then it happened...
With under 800,000 remaining in his dwindling stack, Pino made a stand with K♦7♦. He was dominated by Ferri's K♣Q♥. Pino caught a glimmer of hope when he flopped a gutshot, but he failed to fill in his straight. Pino flashed a look of utter disappointment after coming so close to the title. Pino collected $120,000 for his runner-up efforts, which he'll home back to Panama.
Kemal Ferri, a local player, knocked out the last three players and four overall at the final table. He won his first ever LAPT title, not to mention the first place prize of $207,400. Congrats to Ferri for shipping the LAPT Lima.
For a complete list of prizes and payouts, click here.
The lovely Lynn Gilmartin interviewed Kemal Ferri moments after his victory. You can watch that video here...
LAPT Lima: Seeking victory at today's final table
Here's an index of Day 4 and the final table coverage (provided by Martin Harris and Paul 'Dr. Pauly' McGuire with photographs from Carlos Monti)...
LAPT Lima: Day 4 live updates, Levels 24-26
LAPT Lima: Day 4 live updates, Levels 27-28
For highlights of the LAPT Lima, watch this stellar recap...
Don't forget you can follow the reports in Spanish by visiting PokerStarsblog.la.
On behalf of all of us here at PokerStars blog, I want to say that it's been a sincere pleasure providing updates for you. We give a hearty "thank you" to everyone at the Atlantic City Casino and the entire staff of the LAPT.
Signing off from Lima, Peru. Muy buenas noches!