LAPT9 Panama: Main Event Day 1B coverage archive

Final starting flights of multi-day events are usually for second chances and shots at redemption, as players come back for one last chance to punch their tickets to Day 2. While the early headlines of today's Day 1B flight were centered around those revenants but as we moved forward, new, first-timers, took center stage. In the end, the top of the leaderboard was filled with players firing their first bullets into this LAPT9 Panama Main Event, with Rafael Escobedo pacing them into tomorrow's restart. 

Rafael Stephane Escobedo-LAPT Panama-2016-9258-thumb-450x300-290195-a.jpg

Rafael Escobedo rose to the top of the 1B charts

In total, 335 players took their seat to try to get to Day 2 and in the end, only 109 were able to do so. While Escobedo bagged a sizable chip lead coming out of this flight, with 215,500, the clubhouse still waves a French flag courtesy of Maxence Debar and his 298,900 chip bag from last night. There were a few players in this 1B session that finished near the 200,000 chip mark, with Luis Cruz ending with 177,700, Elliott Peterman bagging 172,800 and Janir Muller putting 143,600 away.

Elliot Peterman-LAPT Panama-2016-9320.jpg

A good performance from Peterman

Those big stacks didn't start to show themselves until midway through the flight though, as there was no "El Toro" pacing the early field today. Without that rabbit pushing the stacks forward, a handful of featured players ended up near the chip average. That group included reigning LAPT Player of the Year Oscar Alache, 20-year old Austin Peck, dinner break chip leader Andres Carrillo and two-time WPT Champion Aaron Mermelstein. Click here for a complete list of chip counts for the 109 survivors of Day 1B.

A few players would gladly take that average stack though, as they were unable to advance through today's ten levels. The most notable of those eliminations occurred in the final level, as Rodrigo Strong, the last player to hoist an LAPT trophy was sent to the rail by the Camilo Posadas. Carter Gill, who is another past LAPT champion, Eder Solarte, who held the early chip lead, and Richard Dubini, who final tabled that last LAPT event in Chile, all failed to find plastic. 

We'll likely see those players in side events over the next few days, as the LAPT9 Panama festival isn't slowing down here at Sortis Hotel heading into the weekend. The PokerStars Blog will be keeping its focus and attention on the 172 players that will return for tomorrow's Main Event Day 2 restart, set to begin at 12pm Saturday. Click here for the Day 2 seating assignments for the 172 remaining players.

A complete rundown of all the Day 1B action is provided below. --WOC


11:58pm: Done for the day, bagging it up
Level 10 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100) 

Day 1B is in the books and it looks like Rafael Escobedo is working today's chip lead. He's still off the pace of yesterday's leader Maxence Debar though, as he is going to work the clubhouse lead with just shy of 300,000. Back shortly with a recap of today's wire-to-wire action. --WOC

11:57pm: Kings work for Reyes
Level 10 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100) 

One of the last hands of the night saw a big three-way preflop all-in that provided some drama at the finish line.

Two players were at risk, including Michelle Reyes for her last 24,000 or so behind K♥K♣. The other had A♥K♠ and Janir Muller (who had both covered) also tabled A♦K♦.

Reyes didn't want to see an ace, and five cards later -- 5♣8♣9♦3♥8♠ -- she'd successfully dodged bullets. She bumped up to 57,000 to end the night, while Muller is going to bag 143,600. --MH

11:50pm: Four more hands
Level 10 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100) 

The clock has been paused, and "quatro manos" is the instruction that has been delivered to the dealers. --MH

11:43pm: Escobedo still on the up escalator
Level 10 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100) 

With 20 minutes to go in Day 1B, Rafael Escobedo continues to maintain what appears to be the biggest stack in the room. He's hovering around 230,000 at the moment, retaining first position as the night nears its close. --MH

11:31pm: Peck picks up more
Level 10 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100) 

Austin Peck has remained steadily above the average and near the top of the leaderboard all day, and just now he added a few more to his stack after felting a short-stacked foe.

The now-departed player had the misfortune of committing his last with A♥T♥ versus Peck's A♣K♦, and after a K♠6♣5♥ flop and 9♠ turn, Peck's opponent was already drawing dead.

Peck is up to 130,000 now. --MH

11:18pm: Cruz and Carrillo
Level 10 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100) 

We've been waiting and wondering whether big-stacked Luis Cruz and Andres Carrillo would ever get involved in something major, given how they've been seated beside one another for the last couple of hours now.

They've mostly steered clear of each other, however, operating tentatively for the most part whenever both are vying for the same pot.

Case in point, just now Carrillo opened for 2,300 from the button, and both blinds came along, including Cruz in the small. The 4♥K♠7♦ flop was checked to Carrillo who bet 3,000 and only Cruz stayed in, then both players checked the 6♠ turn.

The 6♥ fell on fifth street and Cruz quickly checked, and after about 15 seconds -- during 14 of which Carrillo appeared as though he very much wanted to bet -- Carrillo knocked the table exaggeratedly as though to signal his reluctance to do so.

Carrillo then turned over his K♦9♠ for kings and sixes, and it was Cruz knocking the table to commend him as he pitched his cards face down to the dealer.

Both players hover about the 145,000 mark at present. --MH

10:58pm: Posadas picks off Strong
Level 10 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100) 

Rodrigo Strong entered the final level of play with a slightly above average stack but 20 minutes into Level 10, he entered into a massive confrontation with Camilo Posadas. That hand was picked up with Strong leading on a board of K♠K♥8♦7♠ for 10,100. 

Posadas called and after the 5♦ completed the board, Strong went into the tank. This was the norm during Strong's LAPT9 Chile Main Event title run, taking plenty of time to think through every decision. Eventually, he elected to move all-in and Posadas didn't look like he liked to see that at all. 

He asked for a count and Strong's shove weighed in at just under 40,000. Posadas had just over that amount, meaning he was more or less making a decision for his tournament life if he were to call. After close to two minutes in the tank, he did to see that Strong held nothing but queen-high. 

The reining LAPT champion tabled Q♠J♣ and Posadas shot from his chair to throw down K♦Q♦. It was a big hand and a big pot, one that moves Posadas well over the 100,000 chip mark and confirms that we will not have a repeat LAPT winner this weekend. --WOC

Camilo Posadas-LAPT Panama-2016-9170.jpg

Posadas sends Strong packing

10:58pm: Fernandez finally gets a new seat
Level 10 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100) 

Leo Fernandez-LAPT Panama-2016-8903.jpg

Finally a seat change for Fernandez

Over the last few hours, Leo Fernandez has looked, how do we say, uninterested. He's yet to play many meaningful pots and, thus, has been hovering near a 20,000 chip starting stack since returning from the dinner break. Finally, in the dying minutes of Level 9, Fernandez finally got the news he was waiting for. 

"Last hand." a floor staff member said and for the first time in a long time, Fernandez looked full of energy. He popped up out of his seat and awaited for the final hand at his table, he obviously wasn't involved, to play out. He then collected his new seating assignment and with a pep in his step, heading across the tournament area. 

He might have more energy but he's still short stacked and running out of time. We're coming up on the last level of the night and if the lone PokerStars Team Pro in Panama is going to make a run towards Day 2 and the money, he's going to have to find a double and find one quick. --WOC


10:58pm: Pino pushes out another
Level 9 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100) 

"Seat open, Table 8!"

The field was lessened by one yet again, this time thanks to Raul Pino knocking out another opponent. The Panamanian is stacking up about 65,000 at present as he tries like everyone else to position himself well for tomorrow's Day 2.

With a few minutes to go in Level 9, there are 135 players left in action. --MH

10:48pm: Moya can play some more
Level 9 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100) 

LAPT8 Peru champion Claudio Moya didn't look too comfortable. He'd made it to the middle of Level 9, and he'd also made it to the flop versus two opponents before deciding to pitch the rest of his short stack in the middle following a 9♦7♥6♦ flop.

One of the opponents called, and when he did Moya stood up with a cringing look as he tabled his A♠9♥ for top pair. He winced again at the sight of his opponent's up-and-down straight draw plus a flush draw with K♦8♦, but relief at last spread over his face following the innocuous J♣, then 3♣ runout.

Moya sat back down, counted out his stack of about 40,000, and exhaled. The dealer pitched him two more cards. The game continued. --MH

10:35pm: Above the 'toppermost'
Level 9 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

If you just checked the selected chip counts page, check again. That's because there is a new player atop those charts. Rafael Stephane Escobedo has quietly moved himself up the leaderboard since the dinner break, pushing his holdings up and over the 180,000 chip mark. 

Stephane has gone in the opposite direction of the reigning LAPT Player of the Year. Oscar Alache returned from dinner with a top stack but ever since, he's been on a slow slide. He's now playing just over two starting stacks, which is likely near the chip average heading into the final hour and a half of this Day 1B flight. 

With Escobedo, Luis Cruz, Janir Muller and Andres Carrillo all within touching distance, it will be interesting to see who finishes toppermost by night's end. --WOC

10:23pm: The toppermost
Level 9 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100) 

We've made another round, updating our selected chip counts page and noting big stacks as Level 9 continues. Luis Cruz has edged back in front of Janir Muller, with Andres Carillo (still seated next to Cruz) not far behind.

Big stacks below. --MH

Luis CruzColombia175,000
Janir MullerBrazil160,000
Andres CarrilloColombia158,000
Jose SeverinoPanama118,000
Austin PeckUSA87,000

Luis Cruz-LAPT Panama-2016-9228.jpg

Cruz control

10:10pm: Gustavo's connectors get there
Level 9 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Gustavo Echererri-LAPT Panama-2016-9123.jpg

Suited connectors over ace-king for Gustavo

As it stands, there are 18 tables currently housing players and that roughly means that there are nearly 160 players remaining in this Day 1B flight. If knockouts like the one Gustavo Echererri just scored continue to happen, we could see that field fall and fall fast. 

Echererri just opened from late position and called a short stack's 7,000 chip shove from the blinds with 6♦5♦. His opponent held A♠K♥ and after the K♦7♣3♠ flop, it looked like the short stack was going to double. Then the 5♣ fell on the turn, followed by the 6♥ on the river to give Echererri two pair. 

The river was followed by a slam of the table from the then eliminated player and Echererri could only shake his head as he got pushed the relatively small pot. He's now playing the better part of 50,000 and will try to continue to build through the final two hours of this starting flight. --WOC

10:04pm: Last two levels of the night
Level 9 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100) 

Players are back and the evento principal has resumed with two more one-hour levels to go. --MH


9:45pm: Break time

Players are now taking their last 15-minute break of the night. --MH

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9:36pm: Quevedo to the nines
Level 8 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 75) 

At half-past nine, with Level 9 nearing, Mountain Series "Mount Everest" winner Federico Quevedo fired a continuation bet following a 9♣9♠9♦ flop, and his opponent conceded the pot.

We'd like to say that brought Quevedo up to 99,000, but that would be inaccurate reporting. The Costa Rican rather has about 40,000, which means he's right about average at the moment as 171 players from today's starting field of 330 remain. --MH

Federico Quevedo-LAPT Panama-2016-8939.jpg

"That's a lot of nines"

9:15pm: Muller makes some noise
Level 8 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 75)

Janir Muller-LAPT Panama-2016-9245.jpg

The new chip leader, Janir Muller

If you are in the LAPT9 Panama tournament area, you definitely heard it and judging by the audible of Janir Muller's screams, people following along in neighboring countries likely heard it as well. That's because Muller just let out a massive roar following an even more massive pot, one that shoots Muller up the Day 1B leaderboard.

Action was picked up on a board of 8♥5♣4♣A♣, with a player leading from the blinds for 4,050. Muller, who was in middle position, had his entire stack counted out in front of him. He had moved all-in, for his remaining 69,400. That was enough to put his opponent all-in and with one of the biggest pots of the flight up for grabs, Muller's opponent did something unconventional. 

He flipped over his hand, showing A♦A♠ to the entire table, including Muller. He was likely trying to get a read from the big stack but Muller looked more than comfortable in his position. After a minute and a half in the tank, with his aces exposed, the player called, only to see Muller table Q♣6♣. Both players stood from their seats for the river and after the 7♥ completed the board, Muller let out a scream heard around Sortis. 

Muller was excited, Muller was hyped and rightfully so. He was getting shipped an over 140,000 chip pot. A few hands later, Mulller was at it again, sending our early Day 1B chip leader, Edar Solarte, to the rail. He's now playing close to 165,000, which is likely good for the overall chip lead heading into the final break of the night. --WOC

9:08pm: Cruz and Carillo close in more ways than one
Level 8 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 75) 

Luis Cruz' table was recently broken, and the new chip leader found himself moved to an empty seat clear across the large tournament room. As it happened, Cruz finds himself to the left of the player whose lead he usurped a short while ago, Andres Carrillo.

Just as those two are close in proximity to each other, they now find themselves close in chips as well as Cruz sits behind almost 130,000 while Carrillo has 125,000. 

Incidentally, both are still far behind end-of-Day-1A chip leader Maxence Debar who managed to steal off into the night yesterday with a whopping 298,900 (when no one else made it to 200K). --MH

9:05pm: Finalized numbers, 553 entrants
Level 8 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 75) 

Midway through Level 8, we have just received a finalized number of entrants for this LAPT9 Panama Main Event. In total, 330 players came out for this Day 1B flight, along with five satellite winners that, for whatever reason, did not show up to participate. 

That means that their prize money has been added to the pool and that 335 players officially registered today. When you add that to the 218 from Day 1A, 553 total players have entered this $1,500 buy-in event. 

In total, there should be be just shy of $725,000 up for grabs this weekend. When the LAPT9 Panama Main Event payouts and prize structure are finalized, it will be posted on the PokerStars Blog. --WOC

8:58pm: Severino joins 'Century Club'
Level 8 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 75)

Jose Severino-LAPT Panama-2016-9232.jpg

Severino over 'century mark'

We're moving into Level 8 and just at that turn, another player has moved over the 100,000 chip mark and joined the Century Club. Jose Severino is a Panamanian who has seemingly had tournament success across the globe.

From all over Central and South America to across the United States, with some results from pockets of Europe and South Korea as well. Simply put, the only thing more complete than Severino's tournament resume might be the pages of his passport. 

He's now playing 125,000 at one of our high-rise tables and he'll try to parlay that big stack into a deep tournament run in his home country this weekend. --WOC


8:47pm: Strong getting along
Level 7 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 50) 

LAPT9 Chile champion Rodrigo Strong was one of the many Day 1A busts who returned today, and it's so far so good for the Brazilian as he sits comfortably with about 55,000 near the end of Level 7. --MH

8:35pm: Ace-king serves Mazzeo
Level 7 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 50) 

Fernando Mazzeo was the early chip leader on this Day 1B, but after sliding and then busting in a hand versus Austin Peck, he found himself having to re-enter and start from scratch.

Just now we caught up with Mazzeo ending another player's LAPT9 Panama Main Event run, his A♠K♠ managing to outrun the other's 8♠8♥ after a J♥K♣3♣K♦4♥ runout. The Argentinian is back up to 55,000 now. --MH

8:24pm: Bombed river gets called, 'Bucky' shoots up leaderboard
Level 7 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 50) 

Before the dinner break, we feature Matthew 'Bucky' Wantman for reasons aside from poker. The Massachusetts native is battling a bad case of poison ivy and some pretty painful sunburn but he's also working a top-five stack, after winning a massive pot.

Action was picked up on a board of 9♥9♦7♠5♣2♠, with Wantman all-in for just over 19,000 from late position. There was over 30,000 in the middle and his opponent, who was in the small blind, was deep in the tank. He had just over 22,000 behind, meaning the bet was more or less for his stack as well and after close to three minutes of staring right at Wantman, he called. 

Wantman never broke that stare and his look seemed to even intensify after he tabled K♠9♠ for flopped trips. His opponent could only shake his head and send a huge portion of his stack across the table. 'Bucky' with the help of his masseuse, took in the pot and when the dust settled, he was playing just shy of 80,000. --WOC

8:16pm: "The opposite of well."
Level 7 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 50) 

It's been a, as he puts it, "horrible" last hour of Jonathan Borenstein's life. Not only was he late coming back from the dinner break, thanks to a handful of translation problems at a Sortis Hotel restaurant, but he's now down under a starting stack after seeing his pocket aces go up in flames. 

The New Jersey native, who has been living abroad in Costa Rica for the last few months playing online poker, came back with just over 30,000 but then his pocket aces lost to king-queen. The chips got all-in pre flop against a short stack and after the bad beat, Borenstein had to get up and walk around the tournament area, clearly rattled by the last hour. 

"Things are going the opposite of well." he joked before retaking his seat. He'll now hope to turn things around through the final four levels of this Day 1B session, as he tries to get back to another LAPT final table after notching a 7th place finish at the PCA in 2015.

8:06pm: Severino surging
Level 7 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 50) 

Back from dinner, and Jose Severino is back to pressuring his tablemates, much as had been the case prior to the evening meal.

Just now a late position open earned the Panamanian two callers, and after it checked around on the flop a delayed continuation bet after an ace fell on the turn was enough to earn Severino another small pot.

Severino -- who has more than $500K in career cashes -- now sits with 97,000. --MH

7:55pm: Cruz top of charts after dinner
Level 7 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 50)

We're still waiting on an official number of entrants for this Day 1B flight but one thing we do know is that Luis Cruz is the post-dinner break chip leader. He returned from dinner behind over six-figures and he's now playing the better part of 140,000 after winning a sizable pot early in Level 7. 

On a board of K♠Q♠6♣A♥, a player checked from the hijack and Cruz, on the button, bet 3,4500. His opponent called and after the 6♥ paired the board on the river, his opponent checked for a second time. After some thought, Cruz fired a bomb, sliding out 11,000. 

His opponent, who had just shy of 25,000 left behind thought for close to a minute and eventually called. He went to table his hand but Cruz turned over A♠6♠ for a rivered full house. It went from good, to better, to great for Cruz, who is now atop the charts heading into the final four levels of this Day 1B session. --WOC

7:47pm: Play resumes
Level 7 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 50)

Players are back from dinner -- most of them, anyway -- and Level 7 has begin here on Day 1B. Late registration is now over for good, as is the ability to re-enter, and so we'll soon be getting an idea just how many entries the LAPT9 Panama Main Event drew. --MH


6:29pm: Dinner break

They've reached the end of Level 6 and players have been released for a 75-minute dinner break, after which late registration will be over, as will the option to re-enter. --MH

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6:15pm: Gill gets got, Palacios polished off
Level 6 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50) 

Carter Gill has lost the last of his short stack prior to the end of the Level, as has Panama's all-time biggest tournament money winner, Bolivar Palacios. 

We'll see if either player chooses to reenter before the chance to do so ends following the dinner break, scheduled to start about 15 minutes from now. --MH

6:04pm: Lincourt's "live cards" mean no need to re-enter
Level 6 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

The end of the late registration period of any event usually is a bit hectic, as short stacks have either two options. Try to grind up workable holdings for the frozen portion of play or get their chips in and if they lose, hit the cage. We're not sure which strategy Francois Lincourt just tried but regardless, he's now playing just shy of 40,000. 

Action was picked up with Lincourt limping under the gun and then four players called 400 before the player in the small blind pumped it up to 3,000. Lincourt, who had just under 20,000 behind, called, along with a player in middle position and the hijack. 

The player that originally called in the cutoff folded before the player on the button moved all-in. His shove was for 11,800 and after a roll of his eyes, the small blind, folded. Lincourt didn't though, verbalizing "all-in" himself to isolate the shorter stacked player. It worked, as the two other 3,000 chip callers got out of the way and before tabling his hand, Lincourt said, "I hope my cards are live."

They were, very much so, as he held 9♥7♥ to his opponent's 4♥4♦. Lincourt then smashed the 9♠7♥5♠ flop, finding two pair to leave his opponent drawing thin. The 3♣ fell on the turn, giving the short stack some additional outs to a gut-shot but the Q♣ completed the board and the win for Lincourt. 

"Ship it to Frankie!" he said while scooping and stacking the pot before making everyone know that he "only did that because I could re-enter." While he counted out close to two starting stacks, a player across the table said, "No necesito." 

He was right, as Lincourt likely now won't need to re-enter but he will likely need to increase his stack over the rest of this Day 1B flight if he hopes to make a similar run as last year. In 2015, Lincourt final tabled this LAPT Panama Main Event, finishing 5th for an over $50,000 score. --WOC

5:51pm: Carrillo still cruising
Level 6 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50) 

Another tour of the tables reveals the Colombian, Andres Carrillo, still appears to be the Day 1B big stack as they edge closer to the dinner break that comes after Level 6. He's dipped back under 100,000 at present, while Austin Peck and Oscar Alache have both chipped up to close the gap. 

Here are a few big stacks, and as always check the "Selected Day 1B chip counts" page for updated counts on these players and others. --MH

Andres CarrilloColombia94,000
Austin PeckUSA79,000
Oscar AlacheChile75,000
Aaron MermelsteinUSA59,000
David OrmsbyCanada51,000

Andres Carrillo-LAPT Panama-2016-9214.jpg

Carrillo carrying the chip lead

5:33pm: Another WPT champion making his way up the leaderboard
Level 6 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50) 

Over the last two days, we've mentioned two-time World Poker Tour champion Aaron Mermelstein a few times. While he's climbing up the leaderboard, the latest player to crack the three starting stack mark, David Ormsby, has also had his fair share of WPT success. 

The Canadian won the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic Main Event held earlier this year, for a career best $383,000 score. Prior to that triumph, Ormsby opened his 2016 account at the Jackie's Poker Tour in Panama but he's hoping that this LAPT9 Panama Main Event ends with another winner's photo. 

So far, he's doing well, playing just shy of 65,000 and while that stack might be one of the top at some tournament tables, he's got the chip leader to contend with. Ormsby is a few seats to Andres Carrillo, who is still over the 100,000 chip mark. --WOC

5:21pm: Peck picks off Mazzeo
Level 6 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50) 

We'd seen the young American Austin Peck tangling repeatedly with early chip leader Fernando Mazzeo of Argentina over the last few levels. Just now they were up against each other again, only this time only one of the pair was left with any chips.

Following a middle-position raise from Peck, Mazzeo had three-bet from the button and Peck called. The flop came Q♠A♥K♣, Peck checked, and Mazzeo fired 2,000. Peck made it 7,200 to go, and Mazzeo didn't waste a lot of time before reraising back to 20,000. Peck then set his stack forward, and Mazzeo was quick to call.

Mazzeo flipped over K♦Q♥ for two pair, but Peck had Broadway with J♠T♥. The turn was the 4♠ and river the 5♦, and Mazzeo congratulated Peck on a good hand before departing.

Mazzeo's fall was as swift as his rise today, but he's bought back in and in fact has been seated in the exact same seat his just vacated. Meanwhile Peck now sits with just over 70,000 and one of the bigger stacks in the room. --MH


4:58pm: Alache ascending at quick pace
Level 5 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 25) 

Remember how about a half hour ago we reported that reining LAPT Player of the Year Oscar Alache had busted and the re-entered? Well, fast forward 30 minutes and Alache is now looking like one of the big stacks in the room. 

He's quickly shot himself up near the 90,000 chip mark, quietly ascending up the leaderboard on the high rise looking over the rest of the tournament area. The Chilean, who is a two-time LAPT champion, has the past experience to make good use of those chips and he will be a threat moving through the rest of this Day 1B flight. --WOC

4:43pm: Mermelstein predicting the future
Level 5 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 25) 

During yesterday's Day 1A flight, Aaron Mermelstein was on the losing end of a few sizable pots but today, he's chipped up well before making a prediction that could effect his Day 1B fate. Mermelstein just took in a pot to move over the 50,000 chip mark and after he was done stacking his chips, he, maybe half jokingly, said, "I have a feeling we're going to play a big pot."

He was talking to his entire table but Carter Gill, the other English speaking player at the table was the only one to respond, saying, "That could happen." 

If it does, we imagine it's going to involve Mermelstein, who is leading his table but Gill is sitting well also. The former LAPT champion is playing just shy of 30,000 heading through Level 5. --WOC

Aaron Mermelstein-LAPT Panama-2016-9297.jpg

Prognostication and poker with Aaron Mermelstein

4:32pm: Alache out, back in
Level 5 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 25) 

We noticed a short while ago two-time LAPT champion Oscar Alache had taken his leave, ousted again after having taken shots yesterday as well. Now he's bought back in, hoping once more to become the first player ever to win a third LAPT title. --MH

Oscar Alache-LAPT Panama-2016-9074.jpg

Alache at it again

4:13pm: Back from break, Carrillo first over century mark
Level 5 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 25) 

After Raul "El Toro" Paez got yesterday's Day 1A flight off to a white hot start, eclipsing the 100,000 chip mark well before the second break of the day, we've been patiently waiting to see when that number was going to be beat today. Wait no more though, as Andres Carrillo is over the century mark heading through the first few minutes of Level 5. 

The Columbian is working 105,000 and while he might not have a lengthy tournament resume like some of the other players we've featured today, he's had his fair share of success across Central and South America. His best career score came in last year's Punta Canta Poker Classic High Roller, where he finished second for a $41,000 result. 

Carrillo might be in a great position to notch another deep run today, as he's pacing this growing field into the last two levels before the Day 1B dinner break. --WOC 


4:13pm: Break time
Level 4 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25) 

With the big board showing 220 entries so far for this Day 1B flight, they've made it through another two hours' of poker and are now taking another 15-minute break. --MH

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3:55pm: Panama's Pino appears
Level 4 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25) 

In the eight-and-a-half seasons of the Latin American Poker Tour there has only been one champion from Panama, the country's own Galal Dahrouj who won right here in Panama City during Season 6.

The closest any other player from Panama ever came was when Raul Pino took runner-up at LAPT4 Peru to Kemal Ferri, a cash worth $120,000 for Pino. That score comprises nearly half of Pino's career tourney earnings, enough to put him third on the all-time list for Panamanian players behind leader Bolivar Palacios (who played Day 1A, busted, and is back for today) and Jose Severino.

Raul Pino-LAPT Panama-2016-8913.jpg

Pino in action yesterday

Pino took his chances here yesterday without managing to survive the day's 10 levels. He's back again today, having taken a seat halfway through Level 4, and will try to have a better outcome today as he tries to become the next winner from Panama. --MH

3:39pm: Yesterday's number about to be beat
Level 4 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

As this field heads through the midway point of Level 4, we've almost eclipsed the number of players that Day 1A saw hit the felt yesterday. As it stands, just over two dozen full tables are filled with players and judging by the pace of entrants, this Day 1B flight is likely going to fly past the 250 player mark within the next level. 

Multi-flight tournaments usually see double, or close to, the amount of players come out for Day 1B than they do for Day 1A. That means that we wouldn't be surprised to see this field eclipse 400 players when late registration closes the cage around 7:45 PM. The PokerStars blog will continue to track this growing field over the next few levels. --WOC

3:25pm: 'Bucky' battles the elements
Level 4 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

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Poison ivy and sunburn can't keep 'Bucky' away

So you are an American pro that wants to make your first trip to Latin America to play SCOOP and an LAPT Main Event, what could go wrong? You head to Costa Rica for a week, hang out on the beach, grind with your friends, explore the surrounding areas and then, right before you're about to ship off to Panama, your face starts to itch. 

You scratch, giving in to the temptation and then you keep scratching. Suddenly, your face is covered in poison ivy bumps and when you get to Panama, you can barely open your mouth without feeling little stings of pain. Then, when you get to Panama, you spend a day at the pool and since you haven't been out in the sun in forever, you get brutally sunburnt. 

You then you wake up to play Day 1B of the LAPT9 Panama Main Event and you're in even more pain. So is the life of a traveling professional poker player but that pain isn't going to keep Matt Wantman off the felt today. He's put on a layer of calamine lotion and will now look to add to his tournament resume with his first LAPT cash.

The Massachusetts native has had immense success across the US, with deep WSOP and WPT runs to his credit. An LAPT score is the only thing that Wantman hasn't done over the last few years, something he'll hope to change this weekend. --WOC

3:14pm: Fernandez fires again
Level 4 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez took a shot during yesterday's Day 1A, but alas was unable to last through the day's 10 levels. He's back today as expected, although currently is battling with less than the starting stack as he tries to get things going in the right direction this time. --MH


3:06pm: Mazzeo moves in front
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200

We spotted the Argentinian, Fernando Mazzeo, among the field in the early going, then watched him get active early to begin gathering chips right away. He's already built up to 65,000 or nearly three times the starting stack as the day's third level continues.

We remembered Mazzeo from his having grabbed an early chip lead in the LAPT7 Chile Main Event to end Day 1 with the overall chip lead before making it to a 26th-place finish. We'll keep an eye on his pace-setting ways here and see if he can keep building. --MH

Fernando Mazzeo-LAPT Panama-2016-9154.jpg

Mazzeo's the man to start Day 1B

2:46pm: Still SCOOPing here in Panama
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200

SCOOP and Tatoo-LAPT Panama-2016-8959.jpg

Plenty of multi-tabling going on in Panama

The action on the felt is still sorting itself out, as we're very early in this Day 1B session but the action on PokerStars has been white hot over the last week. The Spring Championships of Online Poker are currently running and players throughout the tournament area are multi-tabling while playing this LAPT9 Panama Main Event. 

Earlier today, we mentioned Rodrigo Caprioli, who came to Panama early to get in on the action and look for another SCOOP title. But big names and unknowns alike have been seen playing online over the last two days, including Nacho Barbero late in yesterday's Day 1A flight. 

We won't be covering the SCOOP series here but the PokerStars Blog is, with final table recaps found here. --WOC

2:33pm: 125 so far
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200

The big board is showing 125 entries so far today during the early part of Level 3, although a quick survey of the floor shows the total is definitely more than that already. There were 218 entries for yesterday's Day 1A. 

Last year saw 422 entries total when the event sported a $2,500 buy-in, and the year before 550 played when the buy-in was $1,700. --MH

2:20pm: Back in action
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200

The players back and the tournament area is starting to fill rapidly as the day's third level begins. Close to two dozen tables are now filled as Day 1B play continues. --WOC


2:00pm: Breaking it up
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

They've reached the end of Level 2, meaning the players are now taking their first 15-minute break of the day. --WOC

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1:53pm: Big slick good for Solarte
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Eder Solarte-LAPT Panama-2016-9145.jpg

Thumbs up for big slick!

This Day 1B flight has grown considerably over the last level but the pots have stayed relatively small. That all just changed at a central table though, as Eder Solarte won a sizable pot to move himself up and over the 40,000 chip mark. 

Action was picked up with a player opening to 350 from under the gun. The table folded to another player in the hijack and he called, before Solarte three-bet to 1,500 from the small blind. Both players called to see the 9♥6♦5♥ flop, a board that Solarte led into for 2,600. 

The under the gun player called before the hijack folded, sending two players to the turn. The K♥ fell to put three to a flush on board and both players quickly checked. The K♦ paired the board on the end after that brought another bet from Solarte, who pushed 3,100 across the line. 

After some thought, his opponent verbalized "all-in" and while Solarte didn't seem thrilled with the spot, and the fact that he was covered, he called. His opponent shook his head and threw over 7♠7♣ and Solarte breathed a sigh of relief while tabling A♠K♠. When the stacks were cut down, Solarte had 15,400, meaning his opponent, who had 16,050, was getting a close to 500 chip rebate. 

He was eliminated on one of the very next hands and heading into the first break of the day, it looks like Eder Solarte has pushed himself near the top of the Day 1B leaderboard. --WOC

1:44pm: Jaikel and Quevedo join the quest
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Players continue to arrive, and among them are a couple of Costa Ricans we'd like to tell you about.

Luis Jaikel is here, a player who along with Humberto Brenes is considered one of the pioneers of helping make poker popular in his native country. Jaikel has been collecting tournament cashes for over two decades, including numerous deep LAPT Main Event runs. He's hoping to better his best showing -- an 11th-place finish way back in Season 1 in San José -- in this event.

Luis Jaikel-LAPT Panama-2016-9100.jpg

Jaikel's no joke at the table

Also part of today's field is Federico Quevedo. The Costa Rican only has a few small live cashes to his credit so far, but one big one online after winning the recent Mountain Series Main Event, a $2,100 buy-in affair dubbed "Mount Everest" that earned him a huge $350,280 payday after he topped a 973-player field.

Quevedo is a 32-year-old surfing enthusiast, and his big Mountain Series win represented the largest online payday ever for a Costa Rican player.

We'll keep an eye on both Jaikel and Quevedo today to see how well each manages among the waves of players still arriving for Day 1B. --MH

1:28pm: Quick turnaround for Gonzalez after PLO win
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Jose Alejandro Gonzalez-Winner PLO-LAPT Panama-2016-9040.jpg

Gonzalez poses with the PokerStars spade

Every LAPT stop is considered a festival and that description certainly makes sense, as every stop is jam packed with action and celebration of poker. Throughout the weekend, there are over a dozen events and that means a dozen winners posing for pictures with our amazing photographer Carlos Monti. 

Last night, Monti was up till the wee hours following Jose Alejandro Gonzalez's PL Omaha win. Both Monti and Gonzalez have had a quick turnaround today, as the former is back on the tournament floor capturing all the pictures for the PokerStars Blog, while Gonzalez just took his seat in this Day 1B flight. 

With a win already locked up, we wouldn't be surprised to see Gonzalez keep that run going in the Main Event. While the PokerStars blog won't be covering those side events, you can find a complete list of the LAPT9 Panama schedule here. --WOC

1:16pm: Ben leads POY contingent, hopefully to the bags
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

At the end of yesterday's Day 1A flight, PokerStars Latin America's Reinaldo Venegas informed us that four of five past LAPT Player of the Year winners were in Panama. Unfortunately, all four failed to find the bag yesterday and while we've seen Oscar Alache take his seat, Amos Ben sat down at an outer table. 

Ben is the only POY winner that has yet to claim a LAPT Main Event title but the Chilean does have three side event titles to his name. Those wins include a Season 6 High Roller win in Panama, along with a PL Omaha win from that same series. Safe to say that Ben knows how to win here in Panama and he'll hope to regain that form with a strong Day 1B session today. 

We'll keep our eyes on the other two POY winners that we've yet to see today, as we expect Pablo Gonzalez and Nicolas Horacio to join the action over the next few levels. --WOC

1:03pm: More tables opening
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

As the day's second level gets going, there are now 20 tables in action and well over 100 players seated. Remember, late registration and the ability to re-enter stays open until the start of Level 7 (i.e., post-dinner break). --MH

1:01pm: Same seat, Martinez hoping for different result
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Throughout the tournament area, we're seeing plenty of repeat offenders that tried and failed to get through yesterday's Day 1A flight. All of those players are now in a fresh seat with a fresh starting stack but Juan Pablo Martinez is right where he was yesterday. He drew the same exact seat that saw him fall yesterday, meaning he's hoping for better luck today. 

Yesterday, Martinez started the day multi-tabling, playing live and SCOOPing online. Today, with his final opportunity to find the bag ahead of him, he's just focusing on the task in front of him, taking his seat sans iPad and PokerStars. --WOC


12:48pm: Caprioli connecting
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

We were just mentioning how Ryan McEathron was waiting for enough players to show at his table to begin playing. He might have preferred to wait a little longer after just getting his aces cracked by Rodrigo Caprioli.

The pair traded bets until the river, when Caprioli fired once more on a 5♥3♦8♦J♦T♠ board. McEathron called and showed his A♦A♣, but Caprioli scooped the pot after showing his K♦5♦ had fit neatly with that board full of diamonds to give him a winning flush. 

Caprioli arrives today amid the ongoing Spring Championship of Online Poker at PokerStars, a series the Brazilian knows a little something about. He owns three SCOOP titles, in fact -- one in Omaha, one in Badugi, and one in Corchevel -- and just missed picking up a fourth one earlier this week in Event #3-L, the $27 NL Draw event. In fact, "caprioli" (as he's known on PokerStars) arrived here in Panama a week early expressly to grind SCOOPs around playing the LAPT9 Panama Main.

Rodrigo Caprioli-LAPT Panama-2016-9082.jpg


"The IP here is really, really good," he grinned, telling us about the quality of his connectivity when playing from Panama. That early hand versus McEathron suggests he's connecting pretty well with boards so far, too. --MH

12:36pm: What could have been...
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

While we are sure that there is some interesting table talk across the tournament area, most of it is in Spanish, which both Martin and I barely understand. One table in the middle of the room is speaking in our native tongue, as Aaron Mermelstein and Carter Gill are seated near each other. 

Those two Americans each played in yesterday's Day 1A flight and weren't able to find the bag, leading their early Level 1 conversation to center around "what could have been?" Mermelstein mentioned a big flip he was involved with midway through the flight that would have set him up for a decent bag had he been victorious. 

Alas, both players need to put their woulda, shoulda, couldasbehind and they shouldn't have a problem doing so. Each are two of the more experienced players we'll see in this LAPT9 Panama Main Event, with Mermelstein being a two-time WPT winner and Gill having a past LAPT title on his lengthy tournament resume. --WOC

Carter Gill-LAPT Panama-2016-9066.jpg

Where there's a Gill there's a way

12:29pm: Two to get ready, three to go
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

A couple more familiar faces to tell you about as Day 1A bustouts arrive to reinvent themselves for Day 1B. 

Per the tournament director's instructions, three players are needed at a table to start dealing, which means two of today's returners from yesterday -- Oscar Alache and Ryan McEathron -- will have to sit and chat a bit until a third player shows up to join them.

Alache of Chile seeks a third LAPT title, having won the LAPT7 Grand Final in Lima and the LAPT8 Chile crown in Viña del Mar a few months later. Meanwhile the Canadian McEathron picked up his first career cashes on the EPT last year in Monaco, Barcelona, and Prague, and hopes to add an LAPT cash here as he builds his poker résumé. 

Patience is part of poker, though, so both will wait just a minute or two longer until some tablemates arrive. --MH

12:24pm: Dubini doesn't bag, back for Day 1B
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

There are a handful of players that are making their LAPT9 Panama return after failing to survive yesterday's Day 1A flight and while we'll get to those players over the next few levels, one player we didn't feature yesterday was Richard Dubini. The Argentine is looking to get back to an LAPT Main Event final table, after notching a forth place finish during the last stop in Chile. 

Dubini earned just shy of $50,000 for that near podium finish and while his best Latin American-based score came in June of 2014, when he won a BSOP High Roller event for $126,000, he's also had his fair share of success in Panama. Dubini finished second in the series ending High Roller at Sortis Hotel last year, a result that pushed his career earnings over the $800,000 mark. 

He'll now look to add to his LAPT resume and attempt to make back to back final tables this weekend. --WOC

12:12pm: First arrivers
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

There are about 10 tables in action -- all short-handed -- to begin things today. Among those returning for another try today after busting yesterday are LAPT6 Grand Final champion Carter Gill and Andres "Cacho" Korn. --MH

Andres Korn-LAPT Panama-2016-9092.jpg

All systems go for "Cacho"

12:00pm: Shuffle up and deal!
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Play has begun here on Day 1B of the LAPT9 Panama Main Event. Back in a few to let you know who has arrived. --MH


11:00am: Day 1B awaits

Welcome back to the Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino for the second and final Day 1 flight of the Latin American Poker Tour Panama Main Event. 

This $1,500 buy-in tournament attracted an impressive turnout yesterday, with 218 entries total from which 63 players advanced to Saturday's Day 2. Given how Day 1Bs often tend to attract roughly twice what Day 1As do, we're already bracing for a huge total field and prize pool for this one.

The Frenchman Maxence Debar surged ahead of everyone last night to finish with a commanding lead, ending with 298,900 chips when no one else had even crossed the 200,000-chip mark. We'll see whether or not anyone can scale such heights today.

We'll also be expecting to see some of the same faces today whom we saw yesterday, as those who busted Day 1A can come back to try again. They'll be playing 10 one-hour levels again today, with late registration and the re-entry option staying available all of the way through the start of Level 7.

Things kick off at 12 noon local time -- that's Central Time -- so stick close starting then for live updates, chip counts, photos, and more as we continue to learn together who will be the next LAPT Main Event champion. 

Meanwhile, peruse our Day 1A coverage and look over the complete Day 1A chip counts. --MH

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PokerStars Blog Reporting Team at LAPT9 Panama: Will O'Connor and Martin Harris. Photos by Carlos Monti. Follow the PokerStars Blog on Twitter: @PokerStarsBlog

Live reporting team
@PokerStars in Panama