PCA 2015: LAPT Bahamas Main Event debuts tomorrow

For many years the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure's position at the start of the calendar year has given it the status as an overall starting point for the tournament poker circuit. This year the PCA has even greater cachet as a kickoff event, as the Latin American Poker Tour has made it the occasion for the launch of Season 8 with the first ever LAPT Bahamas Main Event.

Tomorrow the three-day $3,000 buy-in LAPT Bahamas Main Event gets underway, and we'll be providing start-to-finish coverage of the tournament alongside other PCA happenings here at the PokerStars blog. Many players from Central and South America who regularly play on the tour have already arrived, with many who've never played an LAPT event before also expected to take part.

Amid all of the buzz about tomorrow's tourney, we sat down for a spell during today's Super High Roller to talk with LAPT President David Carrion to talk about the decision to create the new LAPT Bahamas Main Event as well as other ideas in the works for Season 8.


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LAPT President David Carrion

"Traditionally the LAPT has been a tour that stops somewhere around November and doesn't restart until mid-March -- which is a big break," Carrion explains. "Over the years we've thought there wasn't any place during that stretch to put an LAPT, because it was always going to collide with the PCA."

"But over the last few years we've seen more and more Latin American players have started to come to the PCA. Last year Brazil was the third biggest nationality participating in the PCA Main Event, and I think combined there were more than 230 players from Latin American countries in the tournament, which is a pretty big number."

Indeed, such a figure represents nearly a fourth of the 1,031 entries from last year's Main Event. Carrion explained how the fact that many Latin American players were already coming to the Bahamas helped inspire an idea for the LAPT to come as well. That was one part of the thinking, anyway.

"The other part has to do with it being cost-effective for us to come. The dealers are already here and we don't have to find a venue, so when you put it all together, it was a smart decision pretty much from any angle."

So what are the expectations for tomorrow?

"Right now as far as qualifiers we have a hundred and change plus a few direct buy-ins already, but with no history it's hard to guess what kind of turnout we'll have" says Carrion. "Also, this year our LAPT Bahamas final table is going to be the same day as Day 1B of the Main Event. I personally would be very happy with 250 players -- not a big number, but not bad for a $3,000 event."


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Another picturesque LAPT location

Whatever the turnout ends up being, Carrion notes how the decision to bring the LAPT to Atlantis has already produced positives.

"If we have less than 250, that could be an indication that it will take more time for players to adjust to the fact that they should come a little earlier. And if we have more than 250, I'll be pleasantly surprised and encouraged going forward. But to me right now, I don't think the number makes or breaks the decision or says the idea was successful or not. What I know is we'll have 100 players who are going to have a great experience by qualifying and getting four days here, and that's really what I wanted to accomplish this time around."

Looking ahead, the hope is eventually to start qualifying as many as 200-250 for LAPT Bahamas, and perhaps to build fields of 500-600 or more. How things develop along those lines remains to be seen in the coming years. More immediately, Season 8 of the LAPT promises much else of interest to follow this unique season-launching event.

Among the changes will be a higher Main Event buy-in of $2,500 (from $1,700) at all stops, as well as having the Main Events begin on Fridays rather than Wednesdays to accommodate the schedules of more recreational players.

"We've had such great growth over the last few years, we are starting to get close to building prize pools and prizes that really feature life-changing money," explains Carrion, noting how the bigger buy-in may "take away a few people, but we hope the prize pools will still be bigger."

Other changes give cause for more excitement looking ahead, including the fact that the Atlantis here in the Bahamas isn't the only new location to be added to the LAPT.

"In Uruguay we'll be at the Conrad Punta del Este Resort and Casino this year, which is one of the best venues in all of Latin America -- right in the city and really an excellent destination."

The tour will be returning to the usual stops as well, with the Grand Final being in Sao Paulo in November and coinciding with the BSOP Millions, a scheduling decision likely to bring record turnout for the tour.

"I think we're going to create the biggest ever poker festival in Latin America -- real life-changing numbers," says Carrion of the Season 8 Grand Final.

Finally, the LAPT will also be introducing more side events -- up to 15 tournaments total in some cases -- with new games being added as well. "We're going to have Mix-Max events, H.O.R.S.E. events, Omaha, and even Crazy Pineapple," says Carrion.

There will be challenges associated with spreading the new events, including training dealers. But Carrion's enthusiasm reflects how the LAPT is looking forward to those challenges -- and looking forward to much else, too, during the new season that starts tomorrow.


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Follow all the action from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure at PokerStars Blog. Head to the Super High Roller page to see hand-by-hand updates and chip counts in the panel at the top of the page, with feature articles below. Tune in to watch as well at EPT Live.

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.