LAPT Punta del Este: Komaromi captures Uruguay's first LAPT title

lapt-promo.gifOf all the poker tours in the world, there may be no circuit fueled more by national pride than the Latin American Poker Tour. Where else will you find players and fans packing bags with their country's flag on the off-chance they can drape it over their shoulders during a victory celebration? Where else will galleries fill and empty based on the double-up or elimination of one player? Where else other than the LAPT?

During its first five events, the LAPT had the dubious distinction of never crowning a winner from Latin America. That changed midway through Season 2. Now, the waves of national pride that swell with each LAPT main event are the kind of which surfers dream.


Flag-waving in Punta del Este

Inside the tube of that international wave rode the LAPT Punta del Este main event, the largest LAPT event ever in the country. Though the LAPT has never missed a chance to stop in Punta del Este, no Uruguayan has ever raised the country's flag over the winner's trophy. That changed this afternoon as Uruguayan Alex Komaromi beat out a field of 422 players and claimed his country's first LAPT championship.


Alex Komaromi, Uruguay's first LAPT champion

The Season 4 Punta del Este final table was guaranteed a winner from Latin America. It hosted one Uruguayan, one man from Venezuela, one from Argentina, one from Peru, and four men from Brazil.

Only once before in LAPT history has a Brazilian won an LAPT event. That happened in Chile in a few months ago. Today, the Brazilians had half the remaining field. They came with their flags, their fans, and their greatest chance in months to score an LAPT victory.


Brazilians raise their flag over the rest of the final table

Instead, fate dealt them the first four exits. One by one, the Brazilians dropped. Rafael Monteiro lost A♣Q♣ all-in against Engelberth Varela's A♠K♣. A short-stacked Fernando Araujo's A♠K♦ fell to Varela's J♥T♣. Nelson Neto went down with A♥Q♠ versus Alex Komaromi's pocket eights. Felipe Pasini couldn't find any outs with Q♦J♦ over Komaromi's pocket tens. In a quadruple-shot of Brazilian horror that lasted less than two hours, all four were gone.

Rafael Monteiro, 8th place, $18,360

Fernando Araujo, 7th place, $27,770

Nelson Neto, 6th place, $37,190

Felipe Pasini, 5th place, $46,600

Perhaps the greatest beneficiary of the Brazilians bad fortune was a man from Peru. Carlos Watanabe had sat quiet while the carnage raged around him. His style earned him an extra $50,000. With the Brazilians gone, Watanabe waited just a couple of minutes before getting his final few big blinds all-in with pocket fives against Varela's Q♠J♣. The Q♣ fell on the turn and Watanabe was gone.
Carlos Watanabe, 4th place, $65,430

Three-handed, the chip counts were as follows:

Alex Komaromi (Uruguay) -- 5.47 million
Engelberth Varela (Venezuela) -- 1.9 million
Claudio Piedrabuena (Argentina) -- 780,000

With those three players remaining, Uruguay still had a great shot at its first title. Argentina, which already has a few winners, was a dark horse for a new trophy. Meanwhile, PokerStars Supernova Engelberth Varela was working to pick up his country's first LAPT championship. He had that chance for about an hour.

Komaromi opened the betting with a raise to 130,000. Piedrabuena got out of the way, but Varela called in the big blind. On a flop of A♥7♣3♣, Varela check-called a 160,000 bet from Komaromi. He did it again for 335,000 on the Q♠ turn. The dealer put out the 5♠ on the river. Again Varela checked. He had just short of a million chips in front of him. Komaromi announced he was all-in. Varela took a long time to make his decision, but ultimately called with A♦6♠, no good against Komaromi's A♣8♣.

Engelberth Varela, 3rd place, $88,970

It looked to be a fast heads-up fight. Komaromi held a better than 7-1 chip lead on Piedrabuena. It could've been just one quick all-in to give Uruguay it's first championship.

Instead, Piedrabuena went to work. He pounded every hand pre-flop with all-ins. After doubling up once with aces, he began firing out 10x big blind raises. It was clear he was planning to play all-in if Komaromi didn't want to give up his blinds. It went on that way for half an hour before Komaromi took a stand with A♥J♠. Piedrabuena held pocket tens. They held and gave the Argentinean the chip lead. It lasted for just one hand. Moments later, Komaromi's A♦K♠ held against Piedrabuena's A♠T♥. He was back.

Komaromi would never fall back again.

"I always thought that this was mine," Komaromi would say later.

Komaromi came in for a raise to 150,000 and Piedrabuena made the call. Both players checked the flop of 4♠7♣K♦. On the J♣ turn, Piedrabuena checked, Komaromi bet 225,000, and Piedrabuena announced he was all-in for around 1.3 million. Komaromi snap-called with J♥4♥. Piedrabuena had K♣T♣ for top pair with the flush draw. He blanked on the 2♦ river and finished in 2nd place for $141,220.


Piedrabuena congratulates the champion

This is the fourth time the LAPT has visited this fine city on the Atlantic coast. Each time, the Uruguayans were forced to watch someone from another country take the trophy home in their luggage. Now, the trophy doesn't need to be shipped through customs. It will stay on Uruguayan soil.

Surrounded by his friends, Komaromi said, "I'm really excited right now. It's crazy. Everything came out right. We're probably going to go party."

Congratulations to Alex Komaromi for winning Uruguay's first LAPT title and $244,720.


Final table live updates

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in Punta del Este