LAPT9 Panama: Meet the final eight
It's another eclectic bunch for today's Latin American Poker Tour Main Event final table, with three Americans, two Colombians, and players from Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Spain. The group brings a variety of experience and past results to today's final table.
As we ready for the 12 noon start today, spend a little time getting to know each of the final eight a little better below.
Seat 1: Austin Peck, USA -- 1,351,000
Though he won't be turning 21 until this August, Austin Peck has already had plenty of experience at the tournament tables where he's been collecting cashes steadily for the last couple of years playing in places where the playing age is 18 and up.
In the USA he's cashes on several different tours, the highlight coming this February when he won a WSOP Circuit ring in an event at West Palm Beach. A couple of weeks after that he finished 20th in the World Poker Tour Fallsview Poker Classic Main Event in Niagara Falls, then last month earned a career-high cash of $24,467 by final-tabling the WPT DeepStacks event in Jacksonville, Florida where he finished fifth. Taking sixth or better today will exceed that total. --MH
Seat 2: Anderson Blanco, Colombia -- 1,225,000
One of two Colombians at today's final table, Anderson Blanco carried the chip lead into yesterday's Day 3, fell back to short-stacked status for much of the afternoon, then successfully climbed back to have an almost-average stack to start today's final table. Blanco has already guaranteed himself a career-high score today, wherever he finishes. He also has topped his previous highest finish in an LAPT Main Event, a 19th-place showing at LAPT5 Colombia. --MH
Seat 3: Ruben Suarez, Venezuela -- 1,477,000
Ruben Suarez is the 13th Venezuelan player to make an LAPT Main Event final table, and hopes to be the first of that group to break through and claim a title. He has only a couple of cashes on his tournament poker résumé thus far, including a 27th-place finish in the LAPT8 Peru Main Event a year ago. His biggest cash came right here in Panama City back in January when he won a $1,000 Jackies Poker Tour event, topping a 235-entry field to earn $48,000. --MH
Seat 4: Paul Cukier, Costa Rica -- 1,341,000
The lone Costa Rican left in the field, Paul Cukier comes from a poker-playing family, as he's the grandson of Max and Maria Stern, the first husband and wife ever to each win a WSOP bracelet. Cukier has a handful of previous small cashes collected in the USA, at the PCA in the Bahamas, and in San Jose in his native country. His biggest previous cash was for $4,043 for finishing 156th in a WSOP event back in 2012, so he's already assured himself of a career-high payday here in Panama today. --MH
Seat 5: Alcides Gomez, USA -- 562,000
The Miami based pro Alcides Gomez has his fair share of final table results and experience including a podium finish from last month's Seminole Hard Rock Poker Challenge Main Event. He'll return today as the low man on the totem pole, playing just over 560,000 and he'll need to spin up a stack if he's going to notch another podium finish in this LAPT9 Panama Main Event. --WOC
Seat 6: Raul Paez, Spain -- 2,580,000
Raul Paez will return to the final table as the chip leader. With over $1,800,000 in career earnings, "El Toro" is the most experienced player remaining and he's hoping that the third time can be the charm at an LAPT final table. The Spaniard finished third at the Main Event final table in Columbia during Season 5, then three years ago bubbled the final table in Panama. --WOC
Seat 7: Andres Carrillo, Colombia -- 659,000
Andres Carrillo returns as one of two players under the million-chip mark, meaning that the Columbian will likely be active early at this LAPT9 Panama final table. Carrillo's past tournament results are relatively few and far between, but with scores from across the globe -- including EPT final table finishes in Barcelona and Malta -- if he is able to find an early double, he'll be a contender. --WOC
Seat 8: Aaron Mermelstein, USA -- 1,802,000
As we said yesterday, if chip leader Raul Paez is the creme, Aaron Mermelstein is what settles just under the creme. He'll come back second in chips and the two-time World Poker Tour champion will be looking to make Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino history today. He currently sits third on the all-time Sortis money list and a deep run today could earn him his best career LAPT finish and move him up that leaderboard. --WOC
And as a reminder, here's what they're playing for (along with the LAPT trophy):
Stick close to the PokerStars blog for start-to-finish coverage of the final table today, including live updates, chip counts, photos, and more.
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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