Journey with me all the way back to the dawn of the Latin American Poker Tour. Early May of 2008 was a heady time. Nobody knew if Latin America was ready for the kind of poker tournaments that the LAPT wanted to bring, but somebody had to try. The first event was organized for Rio de Janeiro, an inarguable hotspot on the South American continent.
Even the final table photo from that event seems like it was a from a different era:
Look carefully at the player in the white track suit. His name is Rafael Pardo. He was a PokerStars qualifier that day who started at Step 1 online, a $7.50 tournament, and climbed all the way to the LAPT final table. He started the final table 6th in chips, but finished in 7th place ($23,550).
Now look at this player, who is playing among the final 15 at LAPT6 Brazil. Notice any resemblance?
It’s none other than Rafa Pardo, masquerading in our official chip counts as “Guillermo Pardo”. Pardo would go on to make another LAPT “first” final table, the final table of LAPT4 Colombia, the first-ever big buy-in poker tournament in Colombia. He finished 7th there, too, earning himself another $22,000.
Pardo has final-tabled a few side events since then, but he’s never been able to make it back to the final table of one of the LAPT’s premier events. He’s struggling today – after starting the day 12th in chips, he’s fallen well off the pace. At last check his 430,000 in chips represented about 18 big blinds.
Nobody on the LAPT has more Main Event final tables than Team PokerStars Pro Jose “Nacho” Barbero, who is gunning for his sixth final table this week. But if Pardo can claw his way through another seven eliminations, he’ll have nabbed his third. That may not get him much of a spotlight, with the Team Pros (Barbero, Andre Akkari and Leo Fernandez, all playing on the feature table) hogging the spotlight. It would still be an accomplishment in its own right.
Who knows what dreams may come from there? Pardo could improve on his two 7th place finishes to win it all. Wouldn’t that be something?
Dave Behr is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.
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