LAPT9 Uruguay: Fabian De La Fuente Fights To Day 1A Lead

As the old adage goes, "It's not how you start, it's how you finish." and this Day 1A flight took that saying literally over the last few levels of the night. There were plenty of early chip leaders that fell both before and after the dinner break but it was after that recess that the real contenders started to emerge.

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A well earned day off for Lopez and his top-three stack

First, was the defending LAPT Uruguay Main Event champion Mario Lopez, who has two LAPT titles in his trophy case. He quickly became the first player to break 100,000 and only a few dared to follow Super Mario above the century mark. When this 1A session concluded, it was one of those fighters, Fabian De La Fuente, atop the leaderboard.

He played one of the biggest pots of the night late in the last period, making broadway on the river against Marco Oliveira to move himself to the top of the charts. De La Fuente kept that advantage through the rest of the flight and he'll be the clubhouse leader with 176,400 heading into tomorrow.

Fabian de la Fuente2-LAPT Punta del Este-9 Season-7045.jpg

De La Fuente bagged the biggest

A few other players managed to finish the night above six-figures, including Andres Viola (148,800), the previously mentioned Lopez (143,000), Juan Parra (113,000) and Emiliano Alcaide (106,800). That group will be the players to beat when the Evento Principal resumes with Day 1B tomorrow but there are a handful of players in the second wave that will come back Sunday with very workable stacks.

Fernando Oliveira finished just shy of 100,000, along with Jorge Cantos, who bagged 92,500. Pedro Aldave put 79,000 away for Day 2, with Rommel Prado and Patricio Rojas finishing just over 50,000. Dinner break chip leader Carlitos Cai ran into some late speed bumps to halt his rise, as he finished with just over two starting stacks. The lone female player to compete in today's flight, Igianne Bertoldi, bagged just shy of double starting but she's still alive after ten levels of play.

In total, 59 players advanced through this Day 1A flight -- click here for a complete list of end of Day 1A chip counts. Until then, all the action from today's opening starting session can be found below and the PokerStars Blog team will return tomorrow, at 12 noon, for the second and final Day 1 session. --WOC



LAPT9 Uruguay Main Event Day 1A Updates

11:52pm: Two more hands
Level 10: Blinds 500/1,000, Ante 100

That's right -- dos, and then they're done. --MH

11:45pm: Rojas takes from Lopes
Level 10: Blinds 500/1,000, Ante 100

Patricio Rojas opened from under the gun for 2,300 and it folded around to Gustavo Lopes on the button who called. The big blind came along, too, and the trio saw a flop come Q♦2♥J♠.

When checked to Rojas bet 3,400, and only Lopes stuck around. The A♠ turn card and another bet of 8,100 from Rojas was more than Lopes could contend with, however, and he stepped aside.

With less than a half-hour of Day 1A left to go on the tournament clock, Lopes has 32,000 while Rojas has 55,000. --MH

11:37pm: Table 1 "full" of action
Level 10: Blinds 500/1,000, Ante 100

Table 1 has been full of action over the last few minutes, as Lucas Tabarin scored a double and then shipped one to the short stacked Nacho Barbero. The first hand was picked up on the river, with the board reading A♥8♣4♥7♥A♣ and Tabarin all-in for his final 14,000.

His opponent thought for a few moments and then called, only to be shown A♠4♦ for "full", as Tabarin so eloquently put it. His opponent did not show but the table talk heading into the next hand made it seem as though he had turned a flush.

Either way, he still had plenty of chips to work with, as he was still behind close to 70,000 but Nacho Barbero did not have that luxury. He had just over 10,000 and on the very next hand, he three-bet shoved over Tabarin's late position open. The blinds folded and Tabarin called, only to see he was dominated with K♥J♠ to Barbero's K♠Q♣.

Oddly enough, he picked up one additional out after the Q♥Q♦9♥ flop but the 9♣ gave Barbero a "full" of his own to confirm the double. After the river meaninglessly brought the 6♥, the dust settled and Tabarin was playing 56,000, while the two-time LAPT champion was just over a 20,000 chip starting stack. -- WOC

11:27pm: De La Fuente on fire
Level 10: Blinds 500/1,000, Ante 100

We've been watching Marco Oliveira and Fabian De La Fuente battling back and forth a lot here as the last level has begun. Just now the pair played a couple of interesting hands in short succession, with De La Fuente the one coming out of their skirmishes in the best shape.

Both were three-way hands, actually, the first finding Oliveira opening from the cutoff, a short stack in the small blind getting all-in for just over a single big blind, the De La Fuente three-betting from the big blind. Oliveira pushed back with another raise, and after hemming and hawing for some time De La Fuente finally folded his hand face-up, showing A♥K♣.

Oliveira had Q♠Q♣ on that one, and as it happened the board came in a fashion to enable the 6♣5♣-playing short-stack to survive with a small straight. The 4♦3♠A♣7♠Q♦ runout caused De La Fuente to wince on the turn, then exhale with mock glee when the queen arrived.

Soon after that one, those two and a third player saw a flop come 4♥8♣T♦ and after Oliveira bet and De La Fuente only those two remained. They both checked the A♥ turn, then after the Q♦ river Oliveira bet 4,700 into the pot of about 12,000.

De La Fuente sat in thought for several seconds, counting out exactly 4,700 from his stack. He then suddenly sat that on top of five blue chips and set it forward -- a big raise to 29,700. That sent Oliveira deep into the tank before he finally found a call, and when De La Fuente tabled K♠J♠ for Broadway (made via the backdoor), Oliveira mucked with some exasperation.

Oliveira slips back to about 35,000 after those exchanges, while De La Fuente now has around 170,000, giving him the chip lead as the night's last level winds down. --MH

11:16pm: Voilà, Viola making late push for chip lead
Level 10: Blinds 500/1,000, Ante 100

Andres Viola came back for the last two levels of the night second in chips and while Mario Lopez has continued to inch himself higher, it's Viola that looks like the chip leader heading into the final 45 minutes of this Day 1A session.

The Argentine just won a sizable pot at an outer table, tabling 6♦6♣ on a board of A♠6♥5♦8♠9♣, with his opponent calling his river bet only to be shown a flopped set. His opponent threw over the A♥ and began to bemoan his luck, or lack thereof.

While he was forced to go back to the drawing board with a 25,000 chip stack, Viola might be constructing some plans of his own. They certainly would, and should, including plans to make a deep LAPT9 Uruguay Main Event run, as Viola is behind 160,000 heading into the homestretch of this opening starting flight. --WOC


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Viola vaults up

11:07pm: No more 'Laughing Leo'
Level 10: Blinds 500/1,000, Ante 100

Just over a half-hour ago, PokerStars Team Pro Leo Fernandez was all smiles, laughing and joking with his Day 1A table. He'd been sat in the same seat since the start of the early levels but our first trip around the room for the final period of play, showed there were no more smiles, no more laughing and no more Leo.

His seat was empty and all that remained of the Argentine was his "Ovo" armband. With a relatively quick turnaround for players busting out of this late in the flight, we imagine Fernandez will forgo the after-party but regardless of his night time plans, Leo will certainly be back tomorrow, smiling and laughing like he always is. --WOC

10:59pm: One more level
Level 10: Blinds 500/1,000, Ante 100

They've moved from Level 9 into Level 10 without a break, the last one-hour level of Day 1A before the bagging will commence. --MH


LEVELSMALL BLINDBIG BLINDANTE
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10:48pm: A few of the fallen; Bertoldi battling
Level 9: Blinds 400/800, Ante 100

To update a few of those we've been following today, with the Day 1A field now shrunk to just 72 players, among the fallen have been Ricardo Chauriye, Jaime Ateneloff, and Marco Zevola.

Meanwhile Igianne Bertoldi -- the lone female among the entire Day 1A field -- remains in action albeit with a short stack. We saw her open then fold to a three-bet just now, keeping the stack of about 20,000 with which to fight.

That was the amount everyone began today with, but the average now has crept up over 48,000. --MH

10:41pm: Alcaide, Aldave ascend over six-figures
Level 9: Blinds 400/800, Ante 100

Coming back from break, Mario Lopez was the only player over the century mark but through the course of the Level 9, two other players have eclipsed that mark. Emiliano Alcaide was the first to do so and that's no surprise, as the Argentine has been on the leaderboard for the better part of this 1A session.

The other, is Pedro Aldave, who has skyrocketed up the charts over the last hour. Aldave finds himself behind close to 115,000, good for second overall in this 1A flight.

The PokerStars blog will continue to track these big stacks throughout the last 75 minutes of Day 1A, while the entire field tries to keep pace with Mario Lopez, who is now working close to 140,000. -- WOC

10:34pm: 'Flipping Brazilians', Foster's 1A session ends
Level 9: Blinds 400/800, Ante 100

No one likes to play the better part of a starting flight and have nothing to show for it, especially the uber competitive Bruno Foster. Unfortunately, his short stack could not find a double in Level 9, meaning he's going to be forced to try again in tomorrow's Day 1B flight.

While the pre flop action was missed, the cards were picked up on their back before the community was dealt, with Foster holding A♠Q♦. His opponent, Ramon Sorgatto, held 9♣9♦ and after the board ran out ten-high, the pocket pair took the pot and sent Foster to the rail.

The two Brazilians exchanged a high-five as Foster exited the tournament area and while Sorgatto is behind 45,000 heading into the final hour and a half of play, we'll certainly see his countryman back for more in 1B. -- WOC

10:23pm: Let's get egg-cited
Level 9: Blinds 400/800, Ante 100

Making it to Level 9 has earned Day 1A players one added bonus -- passes into the Ovo nightclub here at the Conrad Hotel. The armbands are being passed around at each table presently, with a few consulting with each other just what the word "Ovo" (meaning "egg") actually signifies.

During the dinner break your intrepid team of reporters investigated, learning the club doesn't actually open until 1 a.m., with the party usually lasting until dawn. Not sure how many from this group will be taking up the offer to join the fun, but the fact that Day 1A players don't play Day 2 until Sunday might encourage a few. --MH

10:11pm: Laughing Leo
Level 9: Blinds 400/800, Ante 100

Leo Fernandez has been active and talkative all day at his table, and that trend has continued here at the start of the next-to-last level of Day 1A.

Just now we saw the Team PokerStars Pro open from under the gun to 1,800 amid his ongoing chatter, then continue talking and laughing a little as each of his opponents folded one by one. Following a short announcement he tabled his cards before collecting the pot -- 8♦4♣ -- and that got a couple of his tablemates talking back through wry grins.


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Face time with Fernandez

Fernandez is having fun. And he has about 60,000 in chips right now. --MH


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9:54pm: Last break of the night

With the big board showing 81 left from the 176 who began Day 1A, players are taking what will be the last 15-minute break of the day. When they return they'll play two more one-hour levels, then bag up for the night. --MH


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9:45pm: Lopez leads into final two levels, by two stacks
Level 8: Blinds 300/600, Ante 75

Super Mario is right, as two-time LAPT champion Mario Lopez has been flexing his Argentinian muscles over the last few levels. He returned from the dinner break in the middle of the pack but ever since, he's done nothing but grow.


Mario Lopez-LAPT Punta del Este-9 Season-7022.jpg

Easy to relax behind those stacks

Lopez is the only player working a six-figure stack heading into the final break of the night, nearly more than 40,000 more than his nearest competitor. That is the Andres Viola, who is also Argentinian, with Rommel Prado rounding out the top-three with a home grown Uruguayan stack of nearly 90,000.

Those two will try to derail Lopez over the homestretch of this Day 1A flight but so far, Lopez looks like he's on track to put up a serious title defense after winning this event last year. A complete list of the top stacks heading into the final break is provided below. --WOC

PlayerChip Count
Mario Lopez132,000
Andres Viola97,000
Rommel Prado87,000
Emiliano Alcaide86,000
Mauricio Olivera78,000
Janir Muller 74,000
Jorge Cantos72,000
Gustavo Lopez64,000

9:32pm: Super Mario
Level 8: Blinds 300/600, Ante 75

Mario Lopez and Bruno Foster have been battling the level and as they approach the next break Lopez has taken the upper hand once again. In fact, the two-time LAPT champion looks as though he's moved back up into the Day 1A chip lead again.

In the most recent clash, Lopez was calling down bets from Foster from out of position as the board came 8♣2♣A♥9♠2♦, then on the river checked again and watched Foster fire another 14,100 (about two-thirds pot). Lopez considered and then called, turning over A♦K♣. Foster held his cards up so Lopez could see them -- it looked like queen-jack for a failed multi-barrel bluff -- before tossing them dealerward.

Foster slips all of the way down to just 12,000, while Lopez is now on about 130,000. --MH

9:19pm: Under the century mark
Level 8: Blinds 300/600, Ante 75

This Day 1A flight began with just over 175 players and midway through Level 8, the field has dropped below the century mark. With under 100 players remaining, it will be interesting to see how many survive this first starting flight.

While the entire remaining field will hope they haven't played through seven and a half levels for naught, tomorrow's Day 1B session can serve as a backup plan for those that don't survive the final two and a half hours. This 1A session will play through the remainder of Level 8, with a short break readying the field for homestretch, as the plastic will come out after Level 10. -- WOC

9:06pm: Lopez lets it go after Foster five-bet shoves
Level 8: Blinds 300/600, Ante 75

Mario Lopez opened for 1,200 from middle position and it folded around to Bruno Foster who made it 4,000 to go from the button. The blinds stepped aside, then Lopez reraised back to 12,400. 

Foster took a moment, then announced he was all-in. A count showed the push was for around 41,000, and after thinking half-minute or so Lopez decided to release his hand.

Lopez is down to about 58,000 while Foster moves up around 55,000. --MH

8:57pm: The first of many...
Level 7: Blinds 250/450, Ante 50

As mentioned earlier, this LAPT9 Uruguay festival will crown over a dozen champions over the next week and the first Spade was just awarded in the $300 NL Hold'em Turbo event.


Juan Martin Abal-Winner Turbo300-LAPT Punta del Este-9 Season-0296.jpg

Juan Martin Abal claimed the first LAPT9 Uruguay 'Spade'

Juan Martin Abal claimed the title, adding to a 2014 victory on the Conrad Poker Tour at Punta del Este. We'll keep an eye out for Abal in tomorrow's Day 1B flight but until then, you can find the entire LAPT9 Uruguay schedule here. --WOC


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8:47pm: Lopez leaps up the charts
Level 7: Blinds 250/450, Ante 50

Everyone remain calm, I repeat, everyone remain calm even though it might be hard when you learn that two-time LAPT champion Mario Lopez now looks like he's contending for the chip lead with just over 85,000. Lopez got off to a slow start in this Day 1A flight but the Argentine doubler has grown considerably since returning from dinner, with his most recent conquest coming in a multi-way pot.

Action was picked up with a player in middle position raising to 1,100 and after some folds, another player put in a three-bet to 3,200 from the small blind. Lopez was waiting in the big blind and he called, before the original raiser called as well. The small blind checked the Q♠9♥7♣ flop, only to see Lopez bet 1,875.

With close to 10,000 in the pot already, it was an extremely small wager but it was enough to force out the in position player. The small blind didn't go away that easily though, as he called to see the 4♦ fall on the turn. He checked again and this time, Lopez went for the jugular, betting 10,600.

That was a large majority of his opponent's stack and after close to a minute and a half of thought, the player folded to concede the pot to Lopez. When the dust settled, Lopez and Marco Oliveira, featured below, look to be neck and neck for the 1A chip lead. -- WOC

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Two-timer Mario Lopez looking good

8:31pm: Oliveira ousts Chauriye
Level 7: Blinds 250/450, Ante 50

Augustin Castresana opened from under the gun to 1,100, then watched it fold around to the late position players where both the hijack and cutoff called the raise. Then Fabian Chauriye gathered chips and fired out a three-bet to 4,050 from the button, and it folded to Marco Oliveira in the big blind.

Oliveira didn't fold right away, and after a few seconds it became clear he was going to get involved as well. Finally he put out a small stack that when counted turned out to be 11,500, forcing prompt folds from Castresana and the first two callers.

Chauriye leaned forward to examine the four-bet, then pushed out another reraise to 20,000 even. Once Oliveira got an idea of what Chauriye had left behind -- about 15,000 more -- he announced he was all-in and Chauriye called to put himself at risk.

Chauriye: A♣K♦
Oliveira: Q♥Q♣

The race was on, and five cards later -- 8♠7♠5♥J♥T♥ -- it was Oliveira's queens remaining in front at the finish. Chauriye is out, while Oliveira is now up around 85,000 and the apparent leader at the moment. --MH

8:20pm: Late? No, perfect timing for Janir Muller
Level 7: Blinds 250/450, Ante 50

Of the 176 players that entered Day 1A, we imagine that Janir Muller was one of the last, as he wasn't spotted until after the dinner break. The Brazilian might be late by most standards but after recording a career best score in the last LAPT9 Main Event in Panama, it looks like he's timed his Uruguayan entrance to perfection.

Muller was involved in a pot with Federico Prieto and another opponent on a board of K♦5♦2♥A♥, with Muller checking from middle position. Prieto, who was in the cutoff, bet 2,000 and after the unknown player called on the button, Muller did as well to send three to the river.

The Q♠ completed the board and after a few moments of thought, Muller bet 3,000. The late registrant had just over 8,000 behind and after getting an estimated count of his opponent's remaining stack, Prieto raised to 13,000.

The player on the button folded and Muller quickly pushed his short stack into the middle. Prieto confidently tabled Q♦Q♥ but his rivered set was no good, as Muller tabled J♦T♠ for broadway.

While Prieto grimaced and counted his now 35,000 chip stack, Muller quickly began stacking his newly won chips. He's behind just over 30,000 and he could be trending towards another deep run, despite coming into today's flight later than most. -- WOC

8:14pm: 176 enter Day 1A
Level 7: Blinds 250/450, Ante 50

With late registration now closed for this first of two Day 1 flights, we've learned a total of 176 entered today. 

The reentry option isn't available any longer today either, although anyone busting before the end of play tonight will still be able to come back and play tomorrow on Day 1B. 

Right now the big board is showing 117 players remain in action. --MH

8:11pm: Barbero loses a few
Level 7: Blinds 250/450, Ante 50

Nacho Barbero returned from the break to less than average chips, and now sits with an even shorter stack after losing a preflop all-in against a shorter-stacked opponent.

The two-time LAPT champion had A♦J♦ and the preflop edge against the other's Q♥J♥, and after the 5♦6♠8♥ flop and K♥ turn had a pair as well. But the 6♥ river gave his opponent a winning flush, and Barbero sinks to about 12,000. --MH

8:02pm: Ben will be trying again in 1B
Level 7: Blinds 250/450, Ante 50

Season 6 Player of the Year Amos Ben returned from the dinner break with just under half a starting stack an unfortunately for the Chilean, he was bounced just ten minutes after the restart. Ben opened in early position and then saw another player three-bet to 3,500 from the button.

The blinds folded and Ben quickly committed his final 9,000 chips, only to see his opponent call with J♠J♦. Ben was drawing thin with 9♦9♣ and after the K♣6♣5♦A♠A♣ runout, he was officially sent to the rail.

Ben will now have to wait the night to try to make another deep LAPT Main Event run and we fully expect him to be a contender in tomorrow's 1B session. --WOC

7:57pm: What's good for the goose? The Conrad
Level 7: Blinds 250/450, Ante 50

Among those coming back from the break to above average stacks is Vinicius Rodrigues.

Friend of Uruguayan star Pablo "elmelogno4" Melogno, Rodrigues had traveled from his home in Brazil to Punta del Este a couple of weeks early in order to visit him and play some WCOOP events. Meanwhile he entered a tournament here at the Conrad a couple of weeks ago and managed to top a field of 94 to win a $50,300 first prize -- a nice prelude both to the WCOOP and this LAPT festival.

Better known as "ganso" -- meaning "goose" -- Rodrigues is sitting behind a stack of greater than 60,000 at present as Level 7 gets going. We'll see if the "goose" can continue his run-good here at the Conrad. --MH


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"Ganso" going great

7:48pm: Play resumes
Level 7: Blinds 250/500, Ante 50

Players are back from dinner and cards are in the air once more. The start of Level 7 means late registration has ended, so we'll find out soon just how many Day 1A entrants there were. --MH


LEVELSMALL BLINDBIG BLINDANTE
725050050


6:30pm: Cai top into 1A dinner break
Level 6: Blinds 200/400, Ante 50

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Carlitos Cai leads into dinner

Six levels of play have come and gone here in Day 1A of the LAPT9 Uruguay Main Event and as it stands, Carlitos Cai holds the chip lead with 71,000. He did nothing but climb over the last two levels but there are a few players right behind him heading into the 75-minute dinner recess.

Emiliano Alcaide sits at 68,000, with Rommel Prado continuing to build despite his tough seat to the right of PokerStars Team Pro Leo Fernandez. Brazil's Gustavo Lopez sits near the chip leaders, with Gaston Carrera rounding out the top-five.

There are less than ten players over the 50,000 chip mark, with those competitors listed below. They'll pace this field into Level 7 and be leading when the field is frozen after late registration closes after dinner. -- WOC

PlayerChip Count
Carlitos Cai71,000
Emiliano Alcaide68,000
Rommel Prado66,000
Gustavo Lopez61,000
Gaston Carrera 58,000
Andres Viola56,000
Rafael Bravo52,000
Federico Prieto51,000

6:19pm: River saves Bruno
Level 6: Blinds 200/400, Ante 50

Bruno Foster was just a card away from elimination. The community cards were being delivered, and with the board up to 3♣A♣Q♦K♠ his K♣2♣ for a flush draw plus a pair of kings was behind his opponent's A♠J♣.

But the river brought the K♦ to give Foster trips and enable him to avoid leaving early prior to the upcoming dinner break. He has about 28,000 now. --MH

6:03pm: Half-hour until dinner
Level 6: Blinds 200/400, Ante 50

This Day 1A flight is flying by and we are now just a half-hour from the 75-minute dinner break. With late registration open until the start of Level 7, when play resumes after the dinner recess, that leaves close and hour and 45 minutes to get in the action.

If players are eliminated from this first starting flight, or unable to play, there is still always tomorrow's Day 1B session. -- WOC

5:51pm: Are you ready for some...Futbol?
Level 6: Blinds 200/400, Ante 50

During the fall and winter months, NFL jerseys are pulled from the closet and dusted off before making their way to countless poker tables across the United States. While last night's Thursday Night Football tie between the New England Patriots and Houston Texans was broadcast at the Conrad hotel, after some channel surfing, the American sport hasn't exactly caught on for LAPT players.

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Rafael Bravo, in Real Madrid cap, all smiles

Instead of NFL jerseys, real futbol apparel is on display today, with, excuse our American tongues, soccer jerseys scattered around the tournament area. Real Madrid and Barcelona are always fan favorites, with Hamburg (Germany) and Olympiacos (Greece) getting shout outs as well.

Maybe on Sunday the NFL merchandise will get brought out but until then, it's futbol, futbol, futbol for this Day 1A flight. -- WOC

5:41pm: First glances, second guesses
Level 6: Blinds 200/400, Ante 50

Initially there didn't seem anything remarkable happening at Table 3. But closer scrutiny revealed there was more going on than that initial glance might have revealed.

There was 7,000 in the middle and the board read K♥3♣3♠, meaning there had been considerable preflop action between Bruno Foster and his lone opponent. And while there were no chips set forward to indicate a bet, it soon became evident one had been made.

How did that become plain to see? Foster removed his earbuds. He looked up at the ceiling. He exhaled. 

It was obvious. He had a decision to make. A big one.

Foster's opponent -- who had him covered -- had announced an all-in bet, and while the scene might have become clearer to an observer, the whole situation appeared to have grown especially cloudy from Foster's perspective. 

Finally with a headshake the Brazilian let his hand go, preserving the 12,000 or so he had behind. And with a final eyeball roll from Foster, the second guessing has begun. --MH


Bruno Foster-LAPT Punta del Este-9 Season-6830.jpg

"I might be folding, but I'm not letting go of this hand."

5:27pm: Gustavo Santucci puts Zevola to test, bounces Alex Saki
Level 6: Blinds 200/400, Ante 50

PokerStars Blog blogger Martin Harris has caught Marco Zevola do nothing but increase his stack over the last two levels but he was just put to the test by Gustavo Santucci. The Brazilian put in a big check-raise on a very coordinated board and, after Zevola passed the test, moved Santucci up the charts.

Action was picked up on a board of 9♠6♠5♦8♦, with Santucci checking from the small blind. Zevola betting 4,400 from the big blind. Alex Saki, who was in early position, then called all-in for less.

Santucci then sprung into action, check-raising all-in for 16,600. Zevola looked like he had a very big decision on his hands and he went into the tank, thinking for close to three minutes. Eventually, he didn't commit anymore of his 44,000 chip stack and when the hands were tabled, he was glad he did.

The short stacked Saki showed A♠T♠ for a flush draw but Santucci had turned a straight with 7♥7♣. The 3♦ completed the board and confirmed Saki's elimination, while moving Santucci up near 50,000.

While Saki headed away from the tournament area, Zevola and Santucci exchanged some words and it will be interesting to watch these two battle over the next few levels, as a dynamic looks to be developing. -- WOC


LEVELSMALL BLINDBIG BLINDANTE
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5:18pm: Good start for Bertoldi
Level 5: Blinds 150/300, Ante 25

A journey around the front half of the convention center where today's Main Event is playing out reveals more than 150 players have registered so far on Day 1A. 

At the moment Igianne Bertoldi of Brazil stands out as the only woman among the field. She also stands out among her competitors for having collected one of the biggest cashes of those in action here today, too. In March 2014 Bertoldi topped a 569-entry field in the BSOP Panama Main Event to win a first prize of R$198,050 (around $84K USD). 

Bertoldi has gotten off to a positive start today, chipping up around 35,000 so far. --MH

Igianne Bertoldi-LAPT Punta del Este-9 Season-6884.jpg

Igianne running just fine

5:13pm: Barbero battling back
Level 5: Blinds 150/300, Ante 25

Nacho Barbero was at the bottom of the pre-second break chip count list but through the first 40 minutes of Level 5, he's battled back in a big way. Barbero is now playing the better part of 50,000, while multi-tabling on PokerStars.

During the last LAPT9 Main Event in Panama, Barbero notched a deep run in SCOOP Event #17-H: $2,100 PL Omaha [Heads-Up] and he looks to be trying his luck on both the live and online platforms today.

We'll be keeping our eyes on him on the former medium today, as he continues to climb in this Day 1A flight and battle it out in the World Championship of Online Poker. -- WOC

Ignacio Barbero-LAPT Punta del Este-9 Season-6917.jpg

Barbero battling both live and online

5:05pm: That's gonna leave a Marco
Level 5: Blinds 150/300, Ante 25

Marco Zevola just won another pot while eliminating a player here in Level 5. 

Catching up with things on the river, the board showed A♠A♣5♦Q♠7♠ when Zevola very deliberately put out a bet from the cutoff seat. 

It was more than what his neighbor on the button had left, and when his opponent called off Zevola showed A♥7♥ for aces full. With a toss of his cards up in the air his opponent mucked, then overturned one of the cards -- an ace -- before heading railward and leaving Zevola to battle onward with his chips.

Zevola has about 45,000. --MH


Marco Zevola-LAPT Punta del Este-9 Season-6913.jpg

Full house for Zevola

4:53pm: Carlitos Cai joins pre-break chip leader
Level 5: Blinds 150/300, Ante 25

Before the last break, there was only one player working more than three starting stacks but early in Level 5, Carlitos Cai has joined Nicholas Horacio at the top of the leaderboard. Cai just won a sizable pot against a player at a central table, with that hand getting picked up on a board of K♣K♦9♣9♠.

Cai checked from the blinds and his opponent, who had opened the action from under the gun, bet 2,600. Cai responded with a check-raise, to 5,600 and his opponent quickly called to see the 8♦ complete the board.

Cai thought for a few moments and then slid out 6,600, which as a good portion of his opponent's remaining 14,000 chip stack. Despite almost immediately calling the turn raise, the in position player took close to a minute to commit the chips on the end and when he did, he saw the bad news. Cai tabled K♥Q♥ and his opponent cringed before quietly sending his cards into the muck.

When the dust settled, Cai was stacking up just over 68,000, which looks to be good for the chip lead nearly halfway through this Day 1A flight. -- WOC

4:45pm: The best, from the rest
Level 5: Blinds 150/300, Ante 25

While the list of chip counts provided at the end of Level 4 highlighted players that we've mentioned through the first four periods of play, there are a handful of other players trending over two starting stacks. Federico Prieto leads that group, as he's moved himself over the 55,000 chip mark at an outer table.

Javier Venegas is just below that 50,000 chip threshold, along with Rafael Bravo. Uruguayan Rommel Prado just moved tables and now finds himself seated to the direct right of PokerStars Team Pro Leo Fernandez. Prado, no relation to our Brazilian blogging counterpart, is behind 41,000, with Manoel Assuncao also playing just over 40,000.

As this field builds, with two levels and a dinner break of late registration still available, the PokerStars blog will continue to track the top of the leaderboard. --WOC

4:40pm: Ricardo busts one
Level 5: Blinds 150/300, Ante 25

Richardo Chauriye just claimed some chips -- and reduced the field by one -- after a preflop all-in in which his A♠9♠ outran an opponent's 7♦7♥ thanks to a T♠9♣J♦5♦3♦ runout.


Ricardo Chauriye and Matias Ruzzi-LAPT Punta del Este-9 Season-6887.jpg

Ricardo Chauriye (left), with Matias Ruzzi (right)

Chauriye is still below the average, however, even with that win, down around 12,000 at the moment. --MH


LEVELSMALL BLINDBIG BLINDANTE
515030025


4:14pm: Break it up

Four levels in, and players are off once more on a 15-minute break. --MH


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4:03pm: Big names leading through four frames
Level 4: Blinds 100/200, Ante 25

While it's still early in this Day 1A flight, the second break is when the leaderboard starts to take shape. There will be changes, some drastic, to this list over the next few hours but heading into another 15-minute recess, some big names are pacing this field.

Season 7 Player of the Year Nicolas Horacio is leading the way with over three starting stacks, while PokerStars Team Pro Leo Fernandez has also gotten off to a hot start. Fernandez joined the action after the first break and in two hours, has more than doubled his 20,000 start bank.

Brazil's Gustavo Lopez in sandwiched between Horacio and Fernandez, with the previously mentioned Marco Zevola and Fabian Chauriye also over 40,000. A list of the top stacks, along with some other names we've highlighted through the first four levels is provided below. --WOC

PlayerChip Count
Nicholas Horacio65,000
Gustavo Lopes48,000
Leo Fernandez 47,000
Fabian Chauriye 43,000
Marco Zevola 41,000
Igianne Bertoldi33,000
Amos Ben24,000
Mario Lopez 23,000
Sergio Luis Pego22,000
Nacho Barbero 14,000

3:49pm: Zevola zeroes in on the answer
Level 4: Blinds 100/200, Ante 25

Marco Zevola of Argentina has been collecting tournament cashes in South America for a few years now, and in fact his biggest score came right here in Punta del Este back in June when he final-tabled the BSOP High Roller here at the Conrad to finish seventh and collect $13,390.

Just now Zevola had a tough river decision to make in a Level 4 hand, and as it turned out he made the right choice.

With about 7,500 already in the middle and the board showing K♦A♣8♦T♠, Marco Zevola checked, then after watching his opponent fire a bet of 2,425 thought for a while before calling.

The river was the 4♥, and after checking again Zevola faced one more bet, this one for 5,000. Zevola sat in thought for two full minutes before finally zeroing in on the decision to call. He had A♥J♥, and saw he was a winner as his opponent had A♦5♦.

The Argentinian is up around 38,000 now. --MH

3:36pm: The longest standing 'two-timer'
Level 4: Blinds 100/200, Ante 25

While we've talked about two two-time LAPT champions through the early portion of our Day 1A coverage, those players each recently won their second titles. Mario Lopez's came in this event last year and Oscar Alache's came in 2015 as well.

That means that, at most, those players have been looking for a third LAPT victory for close to a year, Nacho Barbero on the other hand, has been looking for the better part of six. His two LAPT titles came in 2010, winning in both Peru and here in Uruguay.

In between those two trips to the LAPT winner's circle, Barbero added a $20,000 High Roller victory to his resume from the EPT7 stop in London, which was good for a career best $870,000 score. Since then, Barbero has amassed over $3,000,000 in live earnings and he'll now look to notch his first LAPT score since final tabling last year's LAPT8 Chile Main Event, which was won by Alache. --WOC


Oscar Alache-LAPT Punta del Este-9 Season-6897.jpg

Alache looking for another Oscar-worthy performance

3:24pm: Chips for Chauriye
Level 4: Blinds 100/200, Ante 25

Fabian Chauriye opened with a raise from middle position and it folded around to Joaquin Ruiz who defended his blind with a call. The Argentinian Ruiz is hoping to better his third-place finish in the LAPT7 Brazil Main Event.

The flop came T♠8♦Q♣, and after Ruiz checked Chauriye chose to check behind. The turn then brought the 5♠ and a leading bet of 900 from Ruiz, called by Chauriye.

The river J♣ completed the board. Ruiz paused a beat, then fired 1,100 into the middle. After waiting about 15 seconds, Chauriye dropped a handful of chips in a small splash before him -- a raise to 4,400.

Ruiz thought for a while then came up with a call, but mucked quickly upon seeing Chauriye's A♥K♦ -- he had the nuts with a Broadway straight.

Chauriye chips up close to 50,000 now while Ruiz slips to around 30,000. --MH


LEVELSMALL BLINDBIG BLINDANTE
410020025


2:57pm: Priority check in for two-time champ
Level 3: Blinds 100/200

Indeed, Mario Lopez has joined the field and sits behind a 20,000-chip starting stack as Level 3 continues. --MH

2:37pm: Checking in on the defending champ (checking in)
Level 3: Blinds 100/200

During the lobby walkthrough at the last break we spied LAPT8 Uruguay Main Event winner Mario Lopez in the check-in line, meaning the Argentinian and two-time LAPT Main Event champion is indeed back to defend his title. We'll see if he jumps in today or waits until tomorrow's second and last Day 1 flight. --MH

2:29pm: Alache's ace-king picks off Arnold's 'misclick'
Level 3: Blinds 100/200

While the rest of this Day 1A flight was enjoying the first few minutes of their break, a sizable pot was playing out on a central table, involving our newly seated two-time LAPT champion. Action was picked up pre flop, with Oscar Alache three-betting from the button and Alejandro Arnold calling in the cutoff.

Arnold checked the 4♦3♣2♥ flop, before calling Alache's 1,500 chip continuation bet. The Q♣ fell on the turn and Arnold checked for a second time. Alache thought for a few moments before sliding out 3,200 and that's when things got interesting.

The out of position Arnold went into the tank for close to a minute and a half, before he reached for and threw out a multi-colored stack of chips. His body language made it seem like he was ready for the river but after the dealer fanned out his call, a blue 5,000 value chip was discovered. No one said a word but Alache peered over to his opponent, trying to decipher if it was a true misclick.

After a few seconds of visual inquiry, Alache called the 8,200 chip check-raise and as the pair headed to the river, a decent crowd had developed to see potentially the biggest pot of the first two levels play out. The J♦ completed the board and for a third time, Arnold checked his option. Alache shot his opponent another slightly confused look before tapping the table himself, to see Arnold table A♥7♥.

Alache turned over A♣K♦ and his ace-high, with a superior kicker, was good enough to win the pot. When the dust settled, both exchanged some words, although what was said was unknown to us. What we do know is that just a few minutes after joining the action, Oscar Alache is off to a good start, with over the 30,000 chips. --WOC

2:22pm: Back in action
Level 3: Blinds 100/200

With more than 100 players in action now players are back in their seats and Level 3 has begun. Late registration remains open through the start of Level 7. --MH


LEVELSMALL BLINDBIG BLINDANTE
31002000

2:01pm: Break time

The first two levels are in the books, and players are now taking their first 15-minute break of the day. --MH


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1:51pm: Victor Teixeira seeking another victory
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

We're seeing still more recent champs turning up here, the latest being Victor Teixeira of Brazil.

Teixeira is a frequent participant on the BSOP tour, and just a few weeks ago picked up a nice first prize of R$263,800 (about $82K USD) for topping a 656-entry field in the BSOP Natal Main Event, his best career cash by far.


Victor Teixeira-LAPT Punta del Este-9 Season-6828.jpg

Teixeira takes a seat

Teixeira has around 15,000 -- a bit below the starting stack -- as Level 2 winds down. --MH

1:35pm: Alache going for LAPT 'triple'
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

We just introduced you to Uruguay's "Godfather of Poker" and LAPT Season 7 Player of the Year Nicolas Horacio but the last player to join the Day 1A action needs no introduction. That's because you've seen Oscar Alache time and time again in the LAPT winner's circle.

The Chilean won his first LAPT title at the 2014 Peru stop and then added a second last year in his home country. Since then, Alache has made a few runs towards a third LAPT victory, falling just short of the final table during May's Panama Main Event.

As the reigning LAPT Player of the Year, for Season 8, Alache will certainly be a player to watch over the next few days, as he tries to become the first to achieve a LAPT triple. --WOC
  
1:28pm: Horacio on hand
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

They're more than halfway through the day's second level and nearly 100 players are registered thus far. Late registration (including the reentry option) is available through the start of Level 7. 

Among the almost-one-hundred is LAPT Season 7 Player of the Year Horacio Nicolas of Argentina. Nicolas is hoping to improve on his 12th-place finish in the LAPT8 Uruguay Main Event here a year ago. --MH

1:16pm: Meet Jaime Ateneloff, Uruguay's "Godfather of Poker"
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

The 85-year-old Jaime Ateneloff is here quietly battling his way through the early levels. Ateneloff is a big part of poker in Uruguay, arguably one of the game's most important influences.


Jaime Atelenoff-LAPT Punta del Este-9 Season-6856.jpg

Jaime Ateneloff -- off and running

The man from Montevideo began playing in earnest during the 1980s, soon befriending another "Godfather of Poker" -- Humberto Brenes -- and eventually moving over to Costa Rica where he studied the game with Brenes. 

Ateneloff brought what he learned back to Uruguay where he played a role in helping to grow the game further. Meanwhile he also began picking up a number of tournament cashes, including three at the 2003 WSOP including a fourth-place finish in a preliminary event. 

Ateneloff continues to be a regular at events here in Uruguay and Argentina. This past summer came a nice moment for him and his friends here at the Conrad when the Brazilian Series of Poker stopped in June. There were 786 entries in the $800 buy-in Main Event, and when it was all over Ateneloff was the one holding all the chips and winning the $88,229 first prize -- his largest career tournament cash. 

We're glad to see Ateneloff -- indeed, it wouldn't seem right for this last LAPT Main Event in Uruguay to have happened without him. We'll see if he can continue to ride the momentum from his triumph here three months ago. --MH

1:03pm: Will we see Fabrizio 'SixthSenSe19' Gonzalez?
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

During the last LAPT9 series, the Spring Championship of Online Poker was in full swing and this time around, the stakes have risen on PokerStars, as the World Championship of Online Poker is running simultaneously with this LAPT9 Uruguay Main Event. There is just over a week left of WCOOP action and if Fabrizio Gonzalez can continue to crush, the Uruguayan will likely lock up WCOOP Player of the Series honors.

Gonzalez, who plays under the name 'SixthSenSe19' claimed his fourth COOP title last week and with an over 100 point lead on the rest of the POOS leaderboard, everyone is waiting to see if the online wizard makes a live appearance for this LAPT9 Uruguay Main Event. That's not to say that Gonzalez hasn't crushed the live game either, as he's amassed over $1,000,000 in career earnings away from his computer, including two final table finishes at Punta del Este.

It remains to be seen if we'll see 'SixthSenSe19' this weekend but even if we don't, we still have you covered with LAPT9 Uruguay Main Event updates and all the WCOOP action on the PokerStars blog. --WOC


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LEVELSMALL BLINDBIG BLINDANTE
2751500

1:00pm: Side events starting up
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

While the PokerStars blog will only be covering the LAPT9 Uruguay Main Event, this final LAPT festival will award just under 20 'Spade' trophies over the next week. The Evento Principal trophy won't be awarded until next Wednesday, when the final table plays to a victor but today, two side event titles are up for grabs.

The first, will be the $300 NL Hold'em Turbo event, which is set to start in a few minutes and then an hour later, the $200 PL Omaha event will begin. Those events could serve as a nice warmup for players looking to get into tomorrow's Day 1B flight, or a pseudo satellite, as each field is expected to create a decent prize pool for those fortunate enough to make their way into the money.

Again, the PokerStars blog will only be providing live updates and coverage for the Main Event but a complete list of the LAPT9 Uruguay schedule can be found on the LAPT website. -- WOC

12:51pm: Ricardo playing cards
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

We mentioned how Fabian Chauriye is here. So, too, is his brother, Ricardo Chauriye -- another familiar face who has enjoyed past success on the LAPT.

More recently Ricardo had a strong showing at the European Poker Tour Barcelona festival in August where he picked up four cashes, including a third-place in a €1,100 event and a victory in another €2,200 tournament just a couple of days later.  

Like most so far here at the end of the day's first level, Richardo Chauriye is hovering not too far from the 20,000-chip starting stack after nearly an hour's worth of poker. --MH

12:37pm: Sergio Luis Pego picking up early pots
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

With the blinds sitting at 50/100 for another twenty minutes, and then progressively inching their way up, we don't expect to see that many big play pots out until the middle portion of this Day 1A flight. Sergio Luis Pego isn't on that schedule though, as he's played two sizable pots over the last orbit, to almost double his Day 1A starting stack.

The first hand was picked up with the cards on their back, with Pego showing the player to his left a rivered full house. A few hands later, Pego and Jorge Ramella got involved in another battle, this time on a flop of K♣J♥7♦. Ramella, who was in the blinds, checked and then check-raised to 1,800 after Pego continued for 700.

Quickly, the Argentine called and after the 7♠ paired the board on the turn, Ramella bet 2,550. It wasn't enough to deter Pego, as he called for a second time, to see the 9♦ complete the board. The out of position Ramella reached for chips and eventually dropped 4,000 into the middle, with Pego taking a moment to think before he flicked a single yellow, 1,000 value unit in for a call.

Ramella tabled K♦J♦, for two pair but it was no good, as Pego caught the river to make a straight with Q♠T♦. His opponent could only shake his head and count his now 12,000 chip stack, while Pego stacked up close to 38,500. That's likely good for the early 1A chip lead, although there is a lot of poker left to be played today... --WOC

12:25pm: Other early arrivers
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

A few more folks we're recognizing among the now 60-plus players in action here during the day's first level.

LAPT6 Peru champ Patricio Rojas is here, looking for a second Main Event title.

So, too, is Gustavo Lopes of Brazil who final tabled the last two LAPT Main Events in Sao Paulo, Brazil, finishing eighth both times. Lopes also enjoyed success this summer at the World Series of Poker where he finished 159th for a $49,108 cash. Along the way he was the chip leader to finish one of the Day 2 flights -- the first Brazilian player ever to earn that accomplishment.


Gustavo Lopes-LAPT Punta del Este-9 Season-6844.jpg

Gustavo from the get-go

And speaking of Brazilian players -- and WSOP Main Event success -- Bruno Foster is here, too. Foster's best known for his eighth-place finish in the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event. --MH

12:12pm: Chauriye wants another chance at title
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

There are a handful of familiar faces in this early arriving crowd but one stands out among them all, as Fabian Chauriye will hope this LAPT stop is as successful as the one in his home country six months ago.

Chauriye finished 2nd in the LAPT9 Chile Main Event in March, falling to Rodrigo Strong heads up after a deal secured him a career best $110,000 score. That runner-up result came just a few months after a deep run in the $5,000 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event and since then, Chauriye has added a handful of other scores, from Europe and the Americas, to his tournament resume.

He'll now try to end this LAPT season with a bang, as Chauriye will look to best that runner-up finish and claim his first live tournament title this weekend. --WOC

12:09pm: Staying connected
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

There are 10 short-handed tables in action as the day's first level gets going -- a little under 50 players thus far. To this point the most asked question amid the dealing of hands hasn't been "Is that a call?" or "How much?" or "Will you show?"

No, so far the greatest concern hasn't been over cards and chips and the action they produce. 

"What's the wi-fi?" 

All are finding their way online easily enough. Who'll be able to find their way through the day's 10 one-hour levels remains to be seen. --MH

12:02pm: Shuffle up and deal
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

The preliminary announcements all having been made, the first entrants into the LAPT9 Uruguay Main Event are in their seats and receiving their initial hands of the tournament.

The starting stack is 20,000. --MH


LEVELSMALL BLINDBIG BLINDANTE
1501000


11:30am: Welcome to Punta del Este and the LAPT9 Uruguay Main Event

Buenos días, poker fans. It's a beautiful, sunny but cool September day here in Punta del Este where we are about a half-hour away from the start of the Latin American Poker Tour Uruguay Main Event. 

While PokerStars will continue to visit all of poker players' favorite destinations in both Central and South America going forward, this is -- in a sense -- the final Latin American Poker Tour festival here in Uruguay, as all that remains in Season 9 will be the Grand Final in Brazil (that is, a single event, not an entire festival). The L-A-S-T LAPT, you might say, although as we say, next year the PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival series will continue the tradition under new names.

Over the next five days, the $1,500 Main Event will play out in the convention center of the luxurious Conrad hotel.


conrad.jpg

They'll start with a couple of Day 1 flights today and Saturday, each lasting 10 one-hour levels. The tournament is reendtradas ilimitadas, meaning unlimited reentries are available through the start of Level 7 today, then anyone busting after that can still come back to play tomorrow's Day 1B if they desire. There will be a 75-minute dinner break after Level 6.

A year ago it was the Argentinian Mario Lopez winning his second LAPT Main Event title here in Punta del Este, topping a 267-entry field (for a $3,300 buy-in event) to win the trophy and a $155,730 first prize.

It's still a little while before that 12 noon start, so we may take a short walk outside to enjoy the blue skies and brisk breeze whipping back and forth. Come back then as we'll start updating how the chips move back and forth across the tables here at LAPT9 Uruguay! --MH


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

Live reporting team
@PokerStars in Uruguay