LAPT Punta del Este: Day 1, Level 1-4 updates (100-200-25)

lapt-promo.gif4:19pm: Your break
Players are now on a 15-minute break. They'll be back to play the final four levels of the night in just a bit. With that in mind, we'll be moving on to a new post which you can always find on the Punta del Este live coverage page. --BW

4:11pm: Nuts hold in three-way all-in
It was a flop of A♣T♠J♥ with Jose Rodriguez all-in. He held K♥Q♥, up against a moderately scary J♣J♦ and A♦J♠. The 2♠ and 4♠ on turn and river handed the main pot and nearly 70,000 to Rodriguez. --BW

3:52pm: Brazil keeping hope alive
It took three and half seasons for Brazil to win its first LAPT event. It happened a few months ago in Chile when Murilo Figueredo took down the LAPT main event in Vina del Mar. Figueredo has carried his victory and the Brazilian flag all the way to Uruguay in an attempt to add another notch to Brazil's bedpost. --BW


Murilo Figueredo

3:39pm: Bumpy road for Barbero
With the board showing 3♠K♦8♥6♥ and about 9,000 in the middle, Jose "Nacho" Barbero checked, his opponent fired 6,500, and Barbero called. Both then checked the J♦ river. Barbero saw his opponent table A♠A♥, and Nacho mucked his cards. The Argentinian slips to 11,300. --MH

3:31pm: Unofficial numbers
After surveying the room and chatting up some of the tourney officials, it's looking like we might have a field of 400 players who started. Four of the tables in the VIP area of the casino have already broken, which should leave us with around 360 players left in the event. --BW

3:10pm: Slow going for Gonzales
Pablo Gonzales of Colombia is here, hoping to match or improve upon his third-place finish at the most recent LAPT Lima event in April. Kind of a slow start for Gonzales thus far, however, as he continues to hover below the starting stack.

Just now came a hand in which Gonzales limped from early position then called a late position raise. He and his opponent both checked the A♣8♠4♠ flop. The turn brought the 9♣ and another check from Gonzales, eliciting a 1,050 bet from his opponent. The Colombian called, then both players checked the J♣ river.

Gonzales showed K♠7♠ for a busted flush, while his opponent tabled [10s][10d] to take the small pot. Gonzales has about 15,000 at the moment. --MH

3:00pm: Brunelli building back
PokerStars Team Online's Diego Brunelli is in build-back mode after losing about a quarter of his stack to start the day. After raising a limper to 600, Brunelli got the call and saw a flop of A♠8♦5♠. His opponent check-called a bet of 800. The Q♥ came on the turn. Again came a check. This time Brunelli made it 1,500 to play. His opponent's cards hit the muck before the bet hit the table and Brunelli is sitting around 14,000. --BW

2:52pm: Nice river for Manzano
Following an under-the-gun raise to 600, four players, including Alex Manzano, saw a flop come A♣7♥J♠. The preflop raiser bet 1,000 and got a couple of callers. The turn brought the 2♦ and another bet from the raiser, and when Manzano raised, the others stepped aside. The preflop raiser pushed his small stack all in and Manzano called.

Manzano showed 9♣9♥, and his opponent appeared in good shape to more-than-double-up with his A♥6♥. But the river brought the 9♠, giving Manzano a set of nines and an early knockout.

Manzano is up around 45,000 now. --MH

2:47pm: Slow start for Cornell
PokerStars qualifier Luke Cornell has waited three years and flown across half the planet to come here today, so he's not seeing much reason to ram and jam in the first few hours. We've not seen him in a lot of pots. The most recent may be reason enough to keep it slow. His flop bet got called on a K♠K♣T♠ board. He checked behind on a blank turn and Q♠ on the river. His opponent rather excitedly tabled queen-ten for the win.

Cornell knows about waiting, we've learned, so he's probably well aware there are still five and half levels yet to play today. --BW

2:31pm: So long, Samar
Samar Hodali of Peru, fifth-place finisher at LAPT Lima back in April, was back here at Punta del Este with her characteristic unlit cigarette. Alas for Hodali, her tourney experience burned out quite a bit more quickly than back in the spring.

Her final hand, coming at the start of Level 3, began innocently enough with her raising to 600 from early position and getting one caller in the cutoff. The flop came [10c]A♣6♥ and Hodali continued for 1,300. Her opponent called. The turn was the [10d]. Hodali waited about two seconds, then fired 3,000. Her opponent took about ten seconds before calling.

The river was the K♥. Hodali bet quickly again, and her opponent immediately responded with an all-in shove. Hodali went deep into the tank, finally emerging to call and commit her remaining chips. When she did, her opponent instantly tabled A♦[10s] for tens full of aces. Hodali showed her A♠K♣, took the cigarette from her mouth and tapped the table, and departed. --MH


Somar Hodali

2:18pm: We're back
Level 3 is underway, with the blinds 100/200. --MH

2:04pm: Nacho returns
It's been about 18 months since Team PokerStars Pro Jose "Nacho" Barbero won the Season 3 LAPT Punta del Este event. While we're waiting for him to come back from break, here's what he had to say when the day kicked off. --BW

2:02pm: Break time
The Day 1 players are on their first break. They will join us back here in about 15 minutes. --BW

1:54pm: Happy birthday, Doc
When I woke up this morning, the first thing I had to do was make sure I sent some flowers and such to my wife (back home some 5,000 miles away) for her birthday. It was only upon getting here today that I realized my dear bride shares a birthday with one of the nicest guys on the LAPT circuit. Dr. Max Stern received a healthy and much-deserved round of applause from his fellow Punta del Este players just a bit ago. Maybe he can turn 20,000 birthday stack into something that will get him to Day 2. --BW

1:45pm: Dog bites Shark
The most notable absence in today's field is that of Costa Rican Team PokerStars Pro Humberto Brenes. It's exceptionally rare to see any event in this part of the world without hearing Da Chark somewhere in the room. Ray, our blogger at comes from Costa Rica. The story he tells is not pretty.

Apparently Humberto Brenes was bitten by a dog while in Las Vegas for the WSOP. While that might not usually be a big deal, apparently this dog had, in Ray's word, "Worms." If you just said, "Yikes," you echoed my reaction. "It got infected and he didn't get treated until he got home." Brenes has apparently not recovered well-enough yet to travel, so this LAPT event, we won't be seeing any swimming of the shark. I've been a journalist for going on 17 years, and this is the first time I've been able to write "Dog bites Shark." Let's hope it's the last. --BW

1:39pm: Leo takes a few sips, loses a few chips
With 2,500 in the middle and the board showing K♦J♠K♠K♥, Leo Fernandez' lone opponent checked and he fired 1,200, getting a call. The river brought the 7♥ and another check from Fernandez' opponent. The Team PokerStars Argentina Pro thought for a while, then checked behind.

His opponent showed [10d][10s], and Fernandez mucked before taking another sip of his cappuccino. Fernandez has about 25,000 at present. --MH


1:34pm: Not long for Lerner
Online qualifier Derek Lerner is out, just about halfway through the second level. We missed details of his rapid exit, though word was he'd played cash games until late, and likely will be finding his way back to them shortly, as well as perhaps to join some of the other events scheduled this week at LAPT Punta del Este. --MH

1:30pm: Three years in the making
So, we were sitting in the airport in Santiago, Chile, a waypoint on the trip to Punta if you're not the kind of guy who books a direct flight to Montevideo. To pass the time, we were telling old poker stories. My most recent was about a guy I knew who managed to lose $3,500 in a $1/$3 no-limit hold'em game in just a few hours. One of my colleagues joked, "Well, you know, every once in a while you'll have one of those down 1,200 big blind sessions."

It wasn't long before a head poked over my shoulder. The young man said, "Excuse me, but I couldn't help but overhear you say something about hold'em and big blinds..."

As it happens, when people travel from all over the world to go to a poker tournament, you're going to run into a few, even if you're still a few countries away from the venue. This one was Luke Cornell, an Englishman turned Aussie who is here as a PokerStars qualifier. He qualified for LAPT Punta del Este...three years ago.

Cornell qualified by accident. He entered an $11 qualifier, thinking he was signing up for a chance to get into a $600 qualifier to an APPT event. Before long he realized he was in a straight-up satellite to the LAPT. And then he won.

Life and work got in the way and Cornell wasn't able to make it. So, he delayed his trip until Season 3. He'd planned to use his LAPT main event credit for the Season 3 event in Vina del Mar, Chile. After that country suffered a devastating earthquake, the tournament was canceled. Cornell stayed home again.

Now, some three years later, Cornell has made his way on the 27-hour journey from Australia to Punta del Este.

"I'm finally getting to play the event I qualified for," he said. --BW

1:11pm: Nacho not getting talked into this one
Jose "Nacho" Barbero, winner of LAPT Punte del Este Season 3, has been active during the first couple of levels. He's also been in constant conversation with his neighbor two seats to his right. The pair were still talking after Barbero took a small pot off of him and the following hand was dealt.

Barbero's neighbor limped in from middle position (for 150), then Barbero raised to 500. "Porque?!?" said Nacho's opponent with mock displeasure. The small blind called as well, and the flop came A♠J♦5♦. All three checked. The turn brought the [10d]. When it quickly checked to Barbero he bet 500, and both opponents called.

The river was the 3♠. It quickly checked to Barbero again who hesitated, then tapped the felt. The small blind kept his cards face down, then the middle position player turned over his A♥5♠ for two pair. "Ah-ha-ha-ha!" said Barbero, seeing evidence of his opponent's sandbagging. He and the small blind both quickly mucked.

The conversation continues. Barbero sits with about 26,000. --MH


1:03pm: Blinds up
We've now moved on to the second of eight levels for the day. Players are now working with 75-150 blinds. --BW

1:00pm: The godfather
We've long described Humberto Brenes to be the godfather of Latin American poker. This week, however, that title will have to go to Andre Akkari. While Akkari has traveled here this week to hang out with his fellow LAPT players (and perhaps show off that new WSOP bracelet of his), he won't be sitting down to play as we first assumed. Akkaro need to take off soon to go home and play the role of godfather to one of his best friends' children. So, alas, no chance of Akkari taking down another first place this summer, but we can't fault the guy for keeping his priorities straight. --BW


12:52pm: Torres tearing it up
Fredy Torres has had a hot first level, steadily increasing his stack throughout the hour. Just now he was involved in battle over another decent-sized pot.

We picked up the action on the turn, with Torres playing out of the small blind and facing a lone opponent sitting next to him on the button. The board read J♣A♦4♠K♠ and about 7,000 was sitting in the middle when both players checked. The river brought the 4♣ and a bet of about 5,000 or so from Torres, earning him a fold and the pot.

Torres is up over 35,000 as we near the end of Level 1. --MH

12:45pm: Shaking off the cobwebs
The LAPT is known for being an exciting place full of screams, shouts, and unpredictable elation. As Day 1 kicks off, that's not yet happened. While any number of factors may be involved, it's possible that the LAPT Welcome Party from last night might have something to do with the quiet. Held about 20 minutes down the road at a local casino, the party offered free food and drink to today's players. While not a crazy affair, it did go on past midnight (or so we were told), so players may still be coming to. --BW


Players watch an LAPT highlight reel at Wednesday night's welcome party

12:30pm: Notes and notables
It's at this time of day we wander in search of two things: faces we recognize and the rooms in which everybody sits. It's not easy today. This is looking to be a monster event. Rumor is that we have 390 players signed up at this hour. They are spread out over four sections of tables on two floors.

Among the faces that have smiled back today are: Vincenzo Giannelli, Gualter Salles, Greg DeBora, Jesus Bertoli, Jose "Nacho" Barbero, Leo Fernandez, Nico Fierro, Christian de Leon, Adolfo Vaeza, Samar Hodali, Angel Guillen, Bolivar Palacios, Diego Brunelli, Freddy Torres, Leandro Csome, Max Stern, and Maria Stern. --BW


12:12pm: Small dip for DeBora
Some early action over at Table 15 where both Team PokerStars Pro Greg DeBora and Team Online member Karlo Lopez are sitting.

A player in middle position opened for 275 and got two callers in Lopez (cutoff) and DeBora (big blind), the latter having just taken his seat. The flop came A♦[10d]4♥. It checked to the preflop raiser who continued for 450, Lopez got out, and after a short think DeBora stuck around.

The turn was the 4♠, pairing the board. DeBora checked, and his opponent tossed out some chips on the big LAPT logo. The amount of the bet wasn't obvious from across the table, so DeBora looked at the dealer who leaned over to take a look. "One thousand and... eleven hundred and twenty-five," she said, adding "my English" with a smile. DeBora called the bet of 1,125.

The river brought the 9♥ and a quick check from DeBora. His opponent fired 2,500 this time, the three chips easy enough for DeBora to see without clarification. After thinking for about a half-minute, the Canadian called, and his opponent quickly tabled A♥J♦ for aces and fours. DeBora mucked, having dipped below the starting stack to about 18,100. --MH

12:03pm: We're underway
Players are seated behind their starting stacks of 20,000 and the first hands of level 1 are being dealt. --MH

11:17am: LAPT Punta del Este Season 4 set to kick off
After a windy, sideways-raining, bone-chilling night on the beaches of Punta del Este, the sun has broken for the start of Day 1. It's been nearly 18 months since the last time the Latin American Poker Tour visited Punta. That time, Team PokerStars Pro Jose "Nacho" Barbero won the first of his back-to-back LAPT victories in Season 3.

Now, tournament officials are stacking the tables with chips. A long line of players is queueing up outside for what is expected to be a big event. We're hearing that 340 players have already registered. That is sure to grow. If it manages to pop over the 351 mark, it will be the biggest LAPT event ever held in Punta.

This is the only stop on the LAPT that the tour has visited every season. The circuit's history is rooted right here on the Uruguayan beaches. That history will write its newest chapter in just about half an hour. Stick with us for coverage all day. --BW


Live coverage of LAPT Punta del Este is brought to you by Martin "I just saw an interesting spin of roulette" Harris and Brad "I wish that falling sign had hit me in the head" Willis.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in Punta del Este