LAPT9 Uruguay: Pedro Claus claims Main Event title, $90,630
Coming into a session of poker with the chip lead doesn't guarantee you anything. Just ask Oscar Alache and Mario Lopez, who led going into Day 2 and Day 3 of the LAPT9 Uruguay Main Event. Both ended up cashing, adding to their lengthy tournament resumes, but had their hopes for another final table appearance, and potentially a record breaking third LAPT title, fall short.
While those South American legends couldn't make their advantages at the top of the leaderboard over the last few days lead them to the winner's circle, Pedro Claus did that, en route to claim the last ever title at an LAPT festival.
The Argentine came into today's eight-handed final table with a sizable lead on the rest of the field, and even though he surrendered that lead a few times, in the end, there was no denying Claus the title that always seemed to be his.
The final table got off to a relatively slow start, which was surprising given that there were a few players working short stacks. Eventually, one of them fell, as Marco Oliveira, one of two Brazilians at this primarily Argentine final table, bowed out in 8th place. He ran his pocket deuces into Ruben Barros' pocket kings and was the first out.
Cristian Andres Rotondo, who was the low man coming into today's session, made a pay jump but after two unlucky chops that should have netted him more chips, he was eliminated in 7th place. He was busted by Nicolas Pernigotti, K♥Q♥ besting K♠8♦ on a Q♠J♠9♥7♣9♠ runout. When the dust settled, Pernigotti had suddenly jumped up the leaderboard, working the third biggest stack when a marathon six-handed session began.
During that six-handed session, the other Brazilian, Fernando Araujo bottomed out near ten big blinds a few times but each, he battled back to stay alive. It was also during that stretch that Claus surrendered his chip lead for the first time, losing it to Sergio De Benedictis, only to win it back a few minutes earlier.
Manuel Vuotto also held the lead momentarily but when we finally had another bust out, it was Claus breaking the stalemate and regaining the lead. Ruben Barros was the sixth to fall, with his A♣8♦ unable to overcome Claus' Q♥Q♦, with Barros besting an 8th place finish in last year's LAPT Uruguay Main Event.
An orbit later, another Che was sent to the rail, as the short stacked Nicolas Pernigotti bowed out in 5th. He had come from the ashes yesterday, recovering from a short stack but after Fernando Araujo cut him down to just a handful of big blinds, Sergio De Benedictis made sure the Argentine Phoenix didn't rise again.
Pernigotti got Q♦T♥ in against De Benedictis' A♥T♠ and after the ace-high flop, he was officially drawing dead on the turn.
Immediately after that elimination, De Benedictis had a chance to score another, as a nearly 3,000,000-chip pot developed between him and Araujo.
While De Benedictis was able to stop one Phoenix from rising, he couldn't stop Araujo, who scored a massive double with A♣Q♦ holding against A♠J♦. When the dust settled, De Benendictis was left extremely short and while he battled valiantly to try to make the podium spots, Araujo eventually came back to end his final table run in 4th place, in brutal fashion.
The short stacked "Guacho" got all-in with K♦Q♥ against Araujo's A♥T♥ and after the K♥Q♠2♦ flop, it looked like he was set for a double. That was, until the 2♣ and J♦ completed the board, giving Araujo Broadway and sending De Benedictis to the rail.
After the knockout, the remaining three players were very evenly stacked and after a few minutes of negotiations, they all decided to lock up better than second place money. Each secured $70,000 and the remaining $20,630 was left for the eventual champion. Despite the deal, the three battled for over an hour before that three-handed stalemate was broken by, you guessed it, Pedro Claus.
Claus had chipped up to, again, take a commanding lead and while he wasn't the one to cut down Manuel Vuotto, he was there to end his run in 3rd. Level 31 began with the short stacked Fernando Araujo doubling through Vuotto to leave the him short and a few hands later, the two Argentinians battled to drop this LAPT9 Uruguay Main Event to its final two.
Claus opened the button, Vuotto shoved from the big blind for just under ten big blinds and Claus called. He had his opponent dominated, K♦9♥ to Q♠9♠ and after a king-high flop, Vuotto had to take bronze. There was no break before heads up play and again, Fernando Araujo was going to have to rise from the ashes, as he faced a nearly 5:1 chip disadvantage.
He tried to find a double immediately, moving all-in from the button on the first hand of heads up play. In a flash, Pedro Claus called and tabled Q♣Q♠, leaving Araujo to just three immediate outs as he held K♦6♣. The board ran out clean for the pocket pair and after an embrace with the silver medalist, Claus raised his arms in victory, celebrating claiming the last ever Latin American Poker Tour festival Main Event trophy.
After the initial celebrations, LAPT Assistant Tournament Director Fernando Obando addressed the crowd that had assembled around the final table area. He referenced the years of success that the LAPT had enjoyed, as well as the bright future that Latin and South American poker has ahead of it. The emotional speech was capped with Obando thanking the players, fans, tournament staff and everyone who has made the LAPT possible over the last nine seasons, with a round of applause making way for Claus to regain center stage with his trophy.
LAPT9 Uruguay Main Event final table results
Places paid: 63
Prize pool: $571,590
1. Pedro Claus (Argentina) $90,630*
2. Fernando Araujo (Brazil) $70,000*
3. Manuel Vuotto (Argentina) $70,000*
4. Sergio De Benedictis (Argentina) $39,720
5. Nicolas Pernigotti (Argentina) $31,160
6. Ruben Barros (Argentina) $24,400
7. Cristian Andres Rotondo (Argentina) $18,340
8. Marco Oliveira (Brazil) $13,040
*denotes three-way deal
Thanks for following our coverage over the past week from the Conrad Hotel & Casino in beautiful Punta del Este. Here are each day's live updates, where you can relive it all:
While this is the last LAPT festival, there is a short break before the LAPT returns, as part of the BSOP Millions series in November. That week-and-a-half long series culminates with the LAPT9 Grand Final in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Until then, adios from Uruguay.
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Will O'Connor and Martin Harris are Freelance Contributors to the PokerStars Blog. Photos by Carlos Monti.