LAPT Lima: Seeking victory at today's final table
Welcome back to the Atlantic City Casino here in the Miraflores district of Lima, Peru, where later today we'll be learning who among the final eight players will emerge as the newest Latin American Poker Tour champion.
It has been an entertaining week here in Lima for my colleague, Paul "Dr. Pauly" McGuire, and myself. The poker has been intriguing throughout, with an action-seeking field providing many memorable moments even before we've reached today's final table. We've had a chance, too, to take in a few of the many delights of Miraflores, one of several stops those visiting Lima should try to include in their itinerary.
For example, some time after the last hand was dealt on Saturday we wound our way to the Larcomar Mall, a large shopping center located among the shore-facing cliffs of the coastal district, to enjoy a delightful meal in which we sampled much local cuisine at Restaurant Portofino.
As we were seated, Pauly -- as much (or more) of an action-seeker as any of the players we've been covering this week -- noted a boxing match playing out on a television near the entrance, the sparring on the screen inspiring him to challenge our server to a wager. Pick your favorite, suggested Pauly, and we'll take the other. If our man wins, we eat for free; otherwise, we pay double.
Our server smilingly agreed to the proposition, although ultimately we played it straight and paid for what turned out to be a delicious meal. (If you ever make it to Portofino, let me recommend the tournado pesqueño -- bacon-wrapped scallops in lemon sauce, garlic, and red pepper.) Still, on departing we had to revisit the bet and find out which of the combatants had been victorious.
"You won!" he informed us, eyes widening as he did. "You had a great meal!" He was right. We hadn't realized it earlier, but once we had decided upon the Restaurant Portofino we were, in a way, destined to win.
It is our fate to follow another heads-up fight today, the inevitable conclusion of our final table. No way of knowing at present who the two players left in the ring will be, although two of the eight will start the day especially well positioned, chip-wise, to engage in that battle.
A fast-moving day of play yesterday saw the field rapidly whittled from 24 to eight, with Daniel Ospina -- for the third day in a row -- ending the night bagging the most chips. He'll return to a stack of a little more than 1.58 million today.
But unlike on previous days, when a healthy margin existed between the Colombian and the rest of the field, we saw another player counting out almost as many as Ospina at night's end on Saturday. Samar Hodali of Peru had a touch over 1.57 million herself, and is thus well-armed and ready to challenge Ospina today and perhaps make history as the first-ever woman to land a Main Event title on the LAPT.
Of course, a half-dozen others, including Karlo Lopez of Team PokerStars Online, will be doing whatever they can to land one of those final two spots as well. An accomplished magician who specializes in "sleight-of-hand"-style illusions, Lopez will need to perform a few tricks with hands today given his current status as the table's short stack.
Here's how our remaining competitors will be arranged when that first hand is dealt today.
Seat 1: Team PokerStars Online Karlo Lopez (Puerto Rico) - 406,000
Seat 2: Kemal Ferri (Peru) - 490,000
Seat 3: Leonardo Zepeda (Chile) - 916,000
Seat 4: Samar Hodali (Peru) - 1,573,000
Seat 5: Raul Pino (Panama) - 466,000
Seat 6: Pablo Gonzales (Colombia) - 661,000
Seat 7: Michel Barham (Peru) - 753,000
Seat 8: Daniel Ospina (Colombia) - 1,582,000
Get yourself something to eat, then be sure to come back here around noon Central time when Pauly, myself, and our photographer Carlos Monti will start to bring you all of the action, start to finish.
It's sure to be exciting, no matter what happens. Indeed, while only one of the eight players will be leaving the Atlantic City Casino a winner, we poker fans who are going to the show are already assured that we are going to be winning today.