LAPT Viña del Mar: Aliro Diaz keeps the trophy home

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It's been said that war is 90 percent boredom, 10 percent fear.

The same could be said about poker.

We saw one level go by without action, and then the next looked like it was going to bring more of the same, but then it happened.

That 10 percent of adrenaline-packed situations where hands tremble, foreheads sweat and players go all in, was upon us.

It was a perfect storm of increased blinds, short stacks, big cards and a six-way deal that created a total of five eliminations in under one hour.

That's right, we have our winner.

Aliro Diaz has won the LAPT:Viña del Mar.

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He's the first Chilean to keep the trophy on home soil at the LAPT and the second Chilean ever to take down an LAPT.

With the six-way deal, our champion took home a total of $76,580.

Diaz's road to victory was short, but hard-fought.

When we came back from the break, Felipe Velasquez had a commanding chip lead with 2.8 million.

But then things went south.

Leonardo Olivares had moved all in for just over 1 million and Velasquez made the call.

Velasquez held a pair of eights and Olivares showed a pair of nines.

There were few outs for Velasquez and he managed to hit none of them.

His chip stack shrunk to 2.6 million, but he managed to bounce back up for a bit.

Sergio Escobar moved all in and Velasquez made the call, showing A♦Q♥.

The flop brought Velasquez the ace he needed and Sergio Escobar was eliminated in sixth place, earning $47,000.

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Sixth place finisher, Sergio Escobar

Our next elimination happened moments later. Javier Venegas was short-stacked and moved all in for 710,000 from the button. Action was folded to Leonardo Olivares in the big blind who went into the tank.

He eventually made the call and showed A♦[10s]. When Venegas showed his K♥3♦ it was clear to Olivares that he made the right call.

"Lets go!" Olivares shouted.

The flop came 7♥K♦J♥ and Venegas jumped up in celebration. But the turn brought an A♥ and Venegas sat right back down.

"Corazon! Corazon!" he shouted, begging for a fourth heart on the board.

But the [10c] that came on the river wasn't what he hoped for and he was eliminated in fifth place, earning $50,000.

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Fifth place finisher, Javier Venegas

This left three Chileans at the table with a lone Brazilian, João Lopes, standing in the way of a local taking the title.

But a Chilean would be the next to go.

Velasquez faced two big hits, one from each of his countrymen.

In a pre flop battle, Velasquez had raised to 700,000, but Aliro Diaz moved all in. It was a move that made Velasquez fold immediately.

Velasquez then lost another 600,000 to Leonard Olivares when he tried to bluff Olivares with ace-high.

But Velasquez was betting into a set, and Olivares would take the pot, sending Velasquez down to 1.5 million.

When the small blind came around to Velasquez, he moved all in and got a call from Diaz in the big blind.

Velasquez's final hand would be A♠5♠ and it was up against Diaz's 9♦9♣. The flop brought Diaz a nine and Velasquez a straight draw.

But the set of nines would hold up and our former chip leader would be eliminated in fourth place for $74,000.

This left Aliro Diaz, Leonardo Olivares and João Lopes.

Lopes was what we refer to as a short-stack master. After having the chip lead at the start of Day 2, he ended it near the bottom of the field.

The following day he managed to grind his way back to the top three, but would make it to the final table seventh in chips.

And while at the final table, he was short-stacked the entire time. He managed to steal blind after blind, get a few timely double ups and stay in the game.

Lopes was the short stack when the deal was made, but he managed to outlast three opponents.

But that's as far as he'd make it.

Lopes raised to 300,000 and Aliro Diaz moved all in.

Lopes made the call and showed a pair of threes. If he was hoping for a flip, he wouldn't get one.

Diaz showed a pair of sevens and eliminated the Brazilian in third place.

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João Lopes, the Brazilian short-stack master

Lopes was eliminated in third place for $58,000, guaranteeing that LAPT Viña del Mar would be won by a Chilean.

Diaz came into the heads up match with the chip lead, 6.5 million to Olivares's 3.2 million.

The heads-up battle would only last a total of seven hands.

In the last hand of the tournament, Diaz raised to 185,000 and Olivares bumped it up to 500,000.

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Chile vs. Chile

Diaz made the call and the flop came J♥9♣9♦. Olivares moved all in for his remaining 2.5 million and action was back on Diaz.

Diaz sighed and looked at his hand, thinking hard. He finally made the call, it'd be the last call of the tournament.

Diaz showed J♣7♣ and Olivares turned over A♠Q♦.

The turn was a 5♠ and a J♠ came on the river, giving Diaz the full house and title of LAPT champion.

Olivares won $66,000 for his second place finish while Diaz would take home $76,580 and the LAPT trophy.

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Second-place finisher, Leonardo Olivares

When the river was dealt, the crowd exploded. Diaz had lots of friends in the stands and he ran up to them and hugged them all.

He jumped up and down and when he finally got the trophy, he kissed it and thrust it in the air.

The crowd went wild.

"I played the best tournament of my life," Diaz said with a smile on his face. He went on to thank his friends, sister and brother-in-law.

But then he mentioned how much of an emotional win this was for him.

Just yesterday, one of Diaz's friends passed away in an accident.

"He was a friend, a brother," Diaz said before choking up.

"I want to dedicate this to a friend who's been watching over me since yesterday," Diaz said. "This is for you Jorge."

Diaz thrusted the trophy into the air again, with tears in his eyes.

The crowd cheered again and Diaz was given his large LAPT check worth a large amount of money.

The white-and-red confetti cannons went off to "We are the Champions" while Diaz held his trophy and looked up, whispering something.

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He was looking at something we couldn't see, talking to someone we never knew.

That's it for LAPT Viña del Mar. We'll see you in Uruguay.













Alex Villegas
@PokerStars in Vina del Mar