The tournament had been stuck in a limbo of no eliminations and seldom-called all-ins for a while.
But while three players were struggling to stay afloat in that poker purgatory, Mario Lopez thrived. Even though he doubled up German Christiansen –the only double up of the level– Lopez still has the majority of the chips in play with 2.8 million.
At one point, Lopez even crossed the 3 million mark.
In that hand, Chadi Moustapha raised to 90,000 from under-the-gun and Lopez called from the big blind. The flop came 10♣5♣9♥ and Lopez check-called a bet of 85,000.
Lopez check-called another 155,000 bet when the K♠ came on the turn and then a J♥ completed the board.
Lopez took the initiative and bet 360,000, about half of Moustapha’s stack.
Moustapha thought until Christiansen called the clock and then Moustapha used up his full minute before he folded.
The hand left Moustapha with 700,000 while Lopez’s lead grew to 3.1 million.
Then there were a few more uncalled all-ins before Christiansen finally doubled up.
Down to just 410,000, Christiansen moved all-in from the button and Lopez called from the big blind.
Christiansen tabled 10♦10♣ and was ahead of Lopez’s A♥5♦. The board ran J♣J♦8♦Q♥3♦ and players were released from their purgatory.
A player doubled up and Lopez lost a hand.
Things had changed.
Then, with moments left in the level, we lost a player.
Chadi Moustapha raised to 595,000 from under-the-gun and Hilario Quijada called from the small blind. Moustapha turned over 6♣6♠ and was drawing slim against Quijada’s J♦J♠.
Moustapha was hoping for a set but the J♥ came on the flop to give one to Quijada instead.
Moustapha, who finished 2nd in LAPT8 Peru a few months ago, became our 4th place finisher and added a $61,140 payday to his resume.
This left us with our final three players, all from Argentina.
Mario Lopez — 2,850,000
Hilario Quijada — 1,500,000
German Christiansen — 920,000
Alexander Villegas is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.