LAPT Panama: The Panamanian Rat Pack
It's been one week since Victor "Puropoker123" Lemos' wrist became very important to the country of Panama. The PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker was grinding along in its last week. Through a decade of WCOOP events and hundreds of millions in prize pools, Panama never had a player claim a gold bracelet. That changed on Tuesday of last week when Lemos won $139,104 in Event #46.
It was a significant win on its own, but when combined with Lemos' tenth place finish in the main event (good for another $57,000), it shined a light on a Panamanian threesome that the folks down here call the Rat Pack.
For years, these three men have stormed around the LAPT and invaded country after country in Latin American. Today, as the LAPT gets its start here in Panama, those three men are now playing host to hundreds of players enjoying Panama for the first time.
While Lemos may have scored big during this year's WCOOP, his 2012 festival earnings didn't match the 2009 Sunday Million victory put up by his countryman and fellow Rat Pack member Jose "papadelpoker" De La Guardia.
Back in November of that year (recall, they were the heady, salad days of online poker when prize pools were even more gigantic than today) De La Guardia beat out nearly 8,600 players one Sunday for more than a quarter of a million dollars. What's more, he did it from Playa Conchal, Costa Rica as the LAPT event there played out around him. He took 23rd place there that year and nearly final tabled LAPT Lima several months later.
While both of those men are national standouts, they have yet to eclipse their leader, the Panamanian powerhouse Bolivar Palacios. He stands as Panama's chief representative on the LAPT. He has two final tables on this tour, a feat only eclipsed by his 2011 sixth place finish at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure for $450,000.
Despite the reputation that precedes the Rat Pack, one fact remains: no one from Panama--the hub of Latin America--has ever won an LAPT event. Tonight, the Rat Pack sets out to change that.
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Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging