LAPT Viña del Mar: They grow so fast


It seems like only yesterday that the Enjoy Hotel & Casino was hosting its first LAPT event.

It was Januray 2009 and Peter Eastgate had just won the Main Event. Michael Jackson was still alive and LAPT: Viña del Mar saw a total of 216 entrants.

Those were different times.

Peter Eastgate would go on to retire from poker and Michael Jackson retired from life. The LAPT, on the other hand, would continue to grow.

The following season added an extra stop, including the LAPT's first stop to Peru. Regretfully, Viña del Mar would not see itself on the Season 3 schedule due to a massive 8.8 earthquake that struck the area.

But the city would bounce right back up and the following year, they broke the record for largest LAPT.

The Enjoy Hotel & Casino also had to adjust for the massive influx of poker players.

In 2009 the tournament was played in an oval conference room with dim, cozy lighting and a carpet that I like to describe as "psychedelic plaid."


This room once housed a whole LAPT, now it handles the overflow

That room is still in use today, but it's only there to handle the overflow of players that couldn't fit in the main tournament area.

The new tournament area looks like it can fit three of the old ones in it. There's a nice green hue lining the Team PokerStars Pro posters along the wall as well as the feature table.

The lighting is far more extensive but the carpet remains the same, psychedelic plaid.


LAPT Viña del Mar in 2012

A large part of the player boom is due to the ever-increasing popularity of poker in Latin America.

But the growth hasn't only been in quantity, we've also seen a surge of quality Latin American players.

Since 2009, we've seen Jose "Nacho" Barbero, Angel Guillen and Christian Leon join the prestigious ranks of Team PokerStars Pro.

We've also seen Latin American players go from not winning one LAPT trophy in Season 1, to dominating every single final table and winning every event in Season 4.

They grow so fast don't they?

Alex Villegas
@PokerStars in Season 5