Tuesday, 30th May 2023 20:02
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11:08pm: It’s over! Andres Carrillo is LAPT9 Panama champion ($138,225); Ruben Suarez runner-up ($86,880)!
Level 34 – Blinds 120,000/240,000 (ante 30,000)

Whoa… what a finish! The stacks had gotten shallower and shallower, and after several more hands were ended preflop, Andres Carrillo and Ruben Suarez got to a flop, then got it all in… and then it was over!

The final hand began with a button raise to 500,000 by Suarez, with Carrillo calling. The flop came K42, and Carrillo quietly checked. With similarly stoic reserve, Suarez announced he was all-in. 

That’s when the fun began.

Carrillo called and dramatically stood from his chair, slamming down his cards — 86 for a diamond flush draw. Suarez showed his 99, revealing he was good for the time being, and his considerable rail began shouting encouragement that the board would run out clean for him.

The 8 turn got them going even more, the shouts of “neh-grow, neh-grow, neh-grow” getting louder and louder as they called for another black card. It was raucous enough for Tournament Director Fernando Obando to call for calm, adding a bit more suspense-building delay before the river card was dealt.

Then it came… the K! The flush came in for the Colombian, and the victory was his!

Carrillo pumped his fist excitedly and was soon mobbed by friends supporting him, and soon he extracted himself to give Suarez a hug after what turned out to be an emotional ending.

Back in a bit with a recap of today’s exciting final day in Panama! –MH

Andres Carrillo Celebration-LAPT Panama-2016-0093.jpg

Carrillo’s fans mobbing their man

10:53pm: I see your bluff and raise you, another bluff
Level 34 – Blinds 120,000/240,000 (ante 30,000)

These two players have been very creative throughout this LAPT9 Panama Main Event final table and a quarter-hour into Level 34, they each showed that creativeness with some interesting bluffs. The first was in the form of a shove, as Ruben Suarez opened the button to 500,000 and then called Andres Carrillo’s three-bet from the big blind. 

The price to see the A63 flop was 1,225,000 but the price to make it past those three cards was Suarez’s 3,400,000 chip stack. That’s because Carrillo checked and Suarez shoved, bringing a sigh fold from Carrillo. We were on the opposite side of the table but Carrillo flashed his cards to the rail before he folded, with the crowd telling us and everyone opposite them that he had “rey, rey” or pocket kings. 

Suarez showed KQ and once his rail heard what Carrillo folded, they let out another loud roar. That brought the stacks nearly even but the Columbian was not going to be outdone. A few hands later, he ran a bluff of his own, check-calling 500,000 on a AK6 flop and then leading the 8 turn for 1,180,000. 

Suarez folded and Carrillo showed 64, getting a little bit of his chips and mojo back with a bluff of his own. — WOC

Heads Up-LAPT Panama-2016-0086.jpg

Heads-up continues

10:45pm: New level, Suarez narrows Carrillo’s lead
Level 34 – Blinds 120,000/240,000 (ante 30,000)

The pair have moved into yet another level, where the min-raises are now close to half a million.

A series of uncalled all-ins by Ruben Suarez has enabled the Venezuelan to close the gap a bit, and he now sits with about 4.65 million while Andres Carrillo continues to lead with about 6.35 million. –MH

34 120,000 240,000 30,000

10:36pm: Shoves, shoves, shoves before Suarez drops
Level 33 – Blinds 100,000/200,000 (ante 30,000)

Ruben Suarez was just caught bluffing but before that, this final table battle was a back and forth shoving match. One player would shove, the other would fold, then the other player would shove, forcing another fold. That continued for the better part of a few orbits until the players finally saw a flop.

Andres Carrillo limped the button and Suarez checked his option in the big blind. Both players checked the 985 flop and after the A fell on the turn, Suarez checked but only to check-raise to 1,000,000. Carrillo had bet 250,000 and after some thought, and a look at his opponent’s stack, he locked eyes with the dealer and announced “all-in”. 

Before the words left his lips, Suarez folded and while his rail has been loud, there is now a dull silence among them, as their man is down near 2,700,000. — WOC

10:27pm: Carrillo grabs lead
Level 33 – Blinds 100,000/200,000 (ante 30,000)

In one of the first heads-up hands, Ruben Suarez raised to 400,000 from the button and Andres Carrillo called. 

The flop came 107Q, Carrillo checked, Suarez bet 400,000, and Carillo called. The turn was the 6 and Carrillo checked again, and this time Suarez bet 1 million. Carillo called right away.

Both then checked the J river, and when Carrillo turned over Q9, Suarez mucked.

Carrillo seizes the advantage, moving up around 7.2 million while Suarez is now back to 3.8 million. –MH

10:17pm: Aaron Mermelstein eliminated in 3rd place ($62,200)
Level 33 – Blinds 100,000/200,000 (ante 30,000)

Aaron Mermeltein-LAPT Panama-2016-9954.jpg

Aaron Mermelstein – 3rd place

Aaron Mermelstein was the short stack at the final table and while he got two shoves through, he was looked up on his third all-in attempt. The American shoved 2,260,000 from the button and after a fold, Andres Carrillo called in the big blind. 

Carrillo held AQ and he had Mermelstein’s Q10 dominated. The short stack needed to hit to stay alive and while his rail was shouting for a “ten”, Carrillo was quietly standing next to his seat. The J76 flop didn’t pair Mermelstein but it could provide some interesting run outs with the right turn. 

The right turn did fall, as the 9 increased Mermelstein’s equity with a straight draw. Unfortunately for him, that’s all he had by the river, a draw, as the 4 completed the board and his elimination. He’ll make just over $62,000 for his 3rd place finish, a year after notching a podium run in the LAPT8 Panama High Roller, and heads up play is about to begin.

Ruben Suarez will be taking 6,300,000 into heads up, holding a slight lead over Andres Carrillo’s 5,690,000. — WOC

10:13pm: Lots of folding
Level 33 – Blinds 100,000/200,000 (ante 30,000)

It’s almost all-in-or-fold time for everyone at this point, although we’re still seeing preflop opens (but rarely any response).  

The last dozen hands played by the trio only saw a single flop, with most of the rest being walks. The exception was a hand in which Ruben Suarez raised to 550,000 from the button, Aaron Mermelstein called from the big blind, then Mermelstein check-folded to his opponent’s bet after a 694 flop. Suarez showed the 9 as he collected the chips.

Suarez leads at the moment with 4.95 million, Andres Carrillo is next with 3.4 million, and Mermelstein third with about 3.6 million. –MH

10:03pm: Suarez shoves and shoves and shoves
Level 33 – Blinds 100,000/200,000 (ante 30,000)

There are a few ways you can build a stack and not letting your opponents breathe is one of those ways. Ruben Suarez hasn’t let anyone catch a breath over the last few hands, shoving nearly every chance he’s gotten since doubling through Aaron Mermelstein.

He moved all-in in four straight hands, open shoving twice, three-bet shoving once and then capping it off with a button shove with AK. Suarez showed the final time, likely because it was the best hand out of the bunch and the Venezuelan is now behind close to 4,500,000.

Aaron Mermelstein is playing 2,800,000 and Andres Carrillo, who has been relatively quiet this level, is working near 3,700,000. — WOC

9:56pm: Suarez doubles back through Mermelstein
Level 33 – Blinds 100,000/200,000 (ante 30,000)

The action starting with Ruben Suarez on the button, he looked down at his cards and announced he was all-in for what would later be determined to be 1.765 million. 

It folded over to Aaron Mermelstein in the big blind who said “call,” though actually meant to say “count” (he would explain). That constituted a call, although as it turned out Mermelstein said he’d have been calling, anyway.

Mermelstein tabled Q10 while Suarez had 1010. The 235K5 board ran clean for Suarez, prompting a big roar from his now much-larger contigent on the rail. Suarez is up to 3.6 million now while Mermelstein slips back to 3.8 million. –MH

9:50pm: Mermelstein doubles and is “laxxed”
Level 33 – Blinds 100,000/200,000 (ante 30,000)

With close to 60 total big blinds in play, we knew the action was going to be fast through Level 33. That action got started on the first hand of the new period, with Aaron Mermelstein shoving and doubling through chip leader Ruben Suarez. 

Mermelstein moved all-in from the small blind for 2,535,000 and Suarez snap called in the big, tabling 77. Mermelstein had three immediate outs, as he held 106 and after the crowd was pushed back from the rail by the tournament staff, he hit on of them on the J105 flop. 

Suarez’s rail was quieted and after the A and 8 completed the board, Mermelstein’s small rail began a passionate, but brief, “Team USA!” chant. Mermelstein could only laugh at his rail and the double, taking a sip of water before getting pushed the over 5,000,000 chip pot. 

“I’m laxxed.” he said, stacking up his now chip leading inventory. — WOC

9:47pm: Play resumes; 3 left
Level 33 – Blinds 100,000/200,000 (ante 30,000)

With Ruben Suarez and Andres Carrillo virtually tied for the lead, cards are back in the air. –MH

33 100,000 200,000 30,000

9:42pm: Quick break

They’ve reached the end of the level, and the players are taking a short five-minute break before continuing. An update of the counts appears below. –MH 





Name Country Chips
Ruben Suarez Venezuela 4,130,000
Andres Carrillo Colombia 4,065,000
Aaron Mermelstein USA 2,795,000

9:29pm: Suarez’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Shoves
Level 32 – Blinds 80,000/160,000 (ante 10,000)

Earlier today, we introduced Martin Harris’ beta-version Badugi varient ‘Sgt. Pepper’ and while Ruben Suarez might not know anything about that game, yet, he’s show the nut-low twice in the last orbit. Those shows came after shoves, that forced folds and the first was against Aaron Mermelstein.

The American opened the button to 320,000 and Suarez shoved from the small blind for just shy of 3,400,000. Mermelstein asked for a count and then flipped over the A before folding. Suarez answered with the most prized card in ‘Sgt. Pepper’ the A and he took down the pot. 

A few hands later, Andres Carrillo opened the button to 400,000 and very quickly, Suarez announced himself “all-in”. That shoved weighed in at 4,000,000 and after some thought, Carrillo flashed 55. Again, Suarez showed the A

These shoves have been going in and out of style at this final table but they’re guaranteed to raise a smile. So may I introduce to you, the player you’ve known for the last three days, chip leader Ruben Suarez. — WOC

9:21pm: Carrillo has the hearts, grabs lead
Level 32 – Blinds 80,000/160,000 (ante 10,000)

Ruben Suarez opened with a raise to 355,000 from the small blind, and Andres Carrillo called from the big.

The pair both checked the single-suited flop of 105Q, then Suarez led for 250,000 following the 2 turn and Carrillo called.

The river brought the 6 and a check from Suarez. Carrillo hesitated about 10 seconds, then set out one big stack and one shorter one — a bet of 700,000. Suarez, leaned back in his chair, plucked a chip off his stack and tossed it forward to indicate a call.

Soon Suarez was leaning forward to see the bad news — Carrillo had flopped a flush with K9 — and Suarez mucked. Carrillo leads now, having moved up around 4.4 million. Suarez has 3.425 million and Aaron Mermelstein 3.15 million. –MH

9:04pm: Comeback on for Carrillo?
Level 32 – Blinds 80,000/160,000 (ante 10,000)

The last orbit has been all Andres Carrillo, and the Columbian might now be working a slight chip lead after winning a pot from Aaron Mermelstein. The American opened the button to 320,000 and Carrillo called in the big blind to see the QJ10 flop. 

Andres Carrillo-LAPT Panama-2016-0034.jpg

Comeback for Carrillo?

Both players checked and Carrillo led the A turn for 250,000. Mermelstein called and the A paired the board on the river. Carrillo took a handful of chips, looking like 820,000, and went to put them over the line but before they could touch the felt, Mermelstein’s hand was in the muck. 

Both players are playing very similar stacks, with Carrillo holding a minimal advantage at the top of the leaderboard. — WOC

8:59pm: Back-to-back for Carrillo
Level 32 – Blinds 80,000/160,000 (ante 10,000)

Taking down the blinds and antes in a given pot award the victor of said pot 270,000 chips and when a player opens, and then you take it down, you can win even more. Andres Carrillo is realizing this phenomena and over the last two hands, has added nearly 1,000,000 chips to his stack.

Carrillo shoved from the big blind after Aaron Mermelstein limped the button and then on the very next hand, he shoved from the small blind after Ruben Suarez opened the button to 325,000. Those shoves have Carrillo playing close to 3,300,000, which is near average as these three players find themselves within touching distance heading through Level 32. — WOC

8:52pm: Mermelstein shoves, collects, back on top
Level 32 – Blinds 80,000/160,000 (ante 10,000)

Andres Carrillo opened from the small blind with a raise to 400,000, Aaron Mermelstein defended the big blind with a call, and the flop came 67K.

Carrillo didn’t wait very long before adding up a bet of 490,000, and Mermelstein studied for a while before calling. The turn then brought the J, and when Carrillo said he was checking this time, Mermelstein said right away he was pushing all-in.

Carrillo sat studying the board for just a beat or two, then tossed his hand away.

Mermelstein is leading now with 4.85 million, Carrillo is at 3.25 million, and Suarez has about 2.9 million. –MH

Aaron Mermelstein-LAPT Panama-2016-0015.jpg

Aaron is up

8:41pm: New level, same slow pace
Level 32 – Blinds 80,000/160,000 (ante 10,000)

The blinds and antes have gone up and while that should force some more action, as everyone’s stack is now shallower, it hasn’t had that effect on the first few orbits of Level 32. The same slow pace has played out and over the last ten hands, we’ve only seen one flop. 

Ruben Suarez took down that pot but other than that, it’s been relative small ball pre flop and three-betting that has ruled the last period of play. — WOC

32 80,000 160,000 20,000

8:33pm: Small pots, relatively speaking
Level 31 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (ante 10,000)

As the level winds down, the three players have been exchanging several small pots, although by now “small” means pots of a half-million or thereabouts — i.e., 25 starting stacks.

Andres Carrillo has been the least active of the three as he maintains his lead. –MH

Final Table-LAPT Panama-2016-0045.jpg

Three-handed action

8:17pm: Jack-high, as a bluff, works for Suarez also
Level 31 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (ante 10,000)

Ruben Suarez is short but that doesn’t mean he’s staying out of the action. He just played a sizable pot against Andres Carrillo, bluffing on the end to for a fold and increase his stack. Action was picked up with Suarez opening the button to 250,000, with both Carrillo and Aaron Mermelstein coming along in the blinds. 

They checked the K64 flop, with Suarez continuing for 375,000. Carrillo called and Mermelstein mucked to send two players to the turn. The 7 fell and both players checked to see the A complete the board. 

Carrillo checked for a third time and after some thought, Suarez bet 450,000. He left himself just under 1,500,000 behind and a near quarter of his stack was good to force Carrillo out. His supporters’ section liked the win but they liked Suarez’s swagger even more, erupting with a mixture of laughter and cheers after he showed J9

Carrillo could only shake his head and after a perfectly-timed river bluff Suarez moved up near 3,200,000, Suarez leaned back in his chair to breathe a sigh of relief. — WOC

Ruben Suarez-LAPT Panama-2016-9987.jpg

Ruben climbs back

8:12pm: Nines work for Suarez
Level 31 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (ante 10,000)

Ruben Suarez raised to 265,000 from the button, Aaron Mermelstein called from the big blind, and the pair saw a flop come Q64. Mermelstein check-called a bet of 125,000 from Suarez, then both checked the 2 turn.

The river brought the 3 and another check from Mermelstein, and Suarez pushed out a bet of 200,000. Mermelstein thought a short while, grabbing calling chips and not appearing too pleased about the situation. At last he called, though, then patted the felt as Suarez showed 99 and Mermelstein mucked.

A small group of Suarez supporters cheered at their man earning the pot, and he’s back to about 2.3 million now while Mermelstein has 3.85 million. –MH

7:59pm: No “trebol” means Corrilla doubles through Suarez
Level 31 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (ante 10,000)

Andres Carrillo has been the most active player since returning from the dinner break and while he came back as the short stack, he’s now the chip leader. Carrillo just doubled in a massive blind versus blind encounter, spiking the turn and holding through the river to move over 5,000,000. 

The hand was picked up with Raul Suarez limping the small blind and after some thought, Carrillo raised to 620,000 from the big. Immediately, Suarez announced himself “all-in” and Carrillo called, shooting from the table while flipping over AK. Suarez held K10 and he had to hit to score the knockout, something he did as the 1044 flop fell. 

The roar from Suarez’s rail was deafening, making it clear who the favorite is among those watching the action. That group wasn’t even done celebrating before Suarez’s fate changed though, as the A fell on the turn, matched with much less fanfare. 

Carrillo gave a fist pump and his few friends on the rail cheered but they weren’t home free just yet, as the short stack still had to fade the river. Suarez’s supporters were asking for a “trebol”, Spanish for “club” but they didn’t get one, as the 7 completed the board.

When Carrillo’s stack was cut down, it weighed in at 2,625,000. He’s now playing over half the chips in play midway through Level 31, while Suarez is playing 1,850,000. — WOC

7:54pm: Mermelstein takes from Suarez
Level 31 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (ante 10,000)

The flop was intriguing, and the turn made things even more curious. But that’s where the betting ended in a hand between Aaron Mermelstein and Ruben Suarez. 

After Mermelstein raised to 240,000 from the button, Suarez three-bet to 600,000 and Mermelstein called. The first three community cards were JQ8, prompting a leading bet of 335,000 from Suarez. Mermelstein took about a half-minute, then called.

The turn then brought the 10, a card that might have completed several draws. Suarez checked this time, and after Mermelstein bet 600,000, Suarez took his time before folding.

Mermelstein has about 4.05 million now and is just ahead of Suarez with 3.9 million. –MH

7:46pm: Carrillo shoves from the small
Level 31 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

Short-handed play is a tactical game, with position and aggression ruling the land. Andres Carrillo didn’t have the first but he had plenty of the second, as a shove from the small blind increased his stack. 

The hand was picked up with Carrillo just calling the blinds from the small and, in the big, Mermelstein raised to 300,000. The Columbian thought for a few moments and did a quick inventory of his stack before verbalizing “all-in”. 

Mermelstein took his headphones off and confirmed his opponent’s declaration. He then re-checked his cards and sent them into the muck, conceding the pot to Carrillo. Carrillo is up to 2,700,000, while Mermelstein takes a small hit to fall near 3,200,000. — WOC

7:41pm: Play resumes; 3 remain
Level 31 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

The final trio are back in their seats and the LAPT9 Panama Main Event final table is back in action. –MH

31 60,000 120,000 20,000

6:23pm: Dinner break

The final three players in the LAPT9 Panama Main Event have reached the end of Level 30, and now they’re off to enjoy a 75-minute dinner break. Below find the current counts. –MH





Name Country Chips
Ruben Suarez Venezuela 4,355,000
Aaron Mermelstein USA 3,820,000
Andres Carrillo Colombia 2,815,000

6:17pm: The ol’ limp-shove
Level 30 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (ante 10,000)

Just now Aaron Mermelstein limped in from the small blind, watched Ruben Suarez make it 300,000 to go from the big blind, then pushed all-in, getting a relatively quick fold from the Venezuelan.

The three players are pretty even at the moment, with Suarez in front with about 4.2 million, Mermelstein next with 3.65 million, and Andres Carrillo third with about 3.2 million. –MH

6:06pm: Austin Peck eliminated in 4th place ($48,500)
Level 30 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (ante 10,000)

Austin Peck-LAPT Panama-2016-0024.jpg

Austin Peck – 4th place

After getting crippled by Aaron Mermelstein, Austin Peck was left with just over one big blind. That one big blind had a chance to triple up, after Peck was all-in on the very next hand. Peck’s stack took a while to get in though, as he just called the 100,000 big blind from under the gun, leaving himself just 5,000 behind. 

Ruben Suarez, next to act on the button, raised to 200,000 and while Mermelstein thought in the big blind, Peck joked, “I have some fold equity.” Mermelstein called and Peck elected to not use the fold option, putting his final chip into the pot. 

After the dealer figured out the numbers and split the chips, Mermelstein and Suarez checked down the 1096Q10 board. Mermelstein tabled 64 and Suarez folded, before Peck looked at his cards to sweat his tournament fate. 

The 5 was the first, no help, and the 8 was the other, meaning he was officially eliminated in 4th place. The 20 year old will make $48,500 for his near podium finish and Aaron Mermelstein is now playing just shy of 4,800,000 heading towards the final quarter-hour of Level 30. — WOC

5:58pm: Peck crippled after Mermelstein double
Level 30 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (ante 10,000)

Aaron Mermelstein open-raised all-in from the cutoff for his last 2.13 million, and after thinking for a while Austin Peck chose to reraise all-in himself for just over 2.2 million.

It folded over to Andres Carrillo who appeared in agony, putting his face in the crook of his arm and then rising up and covering it with his hand. After a while he folded, and Mermelstein showed his KQ while Peck tabled 1010.

The 674 flop was okay for Peck, but the K fell on the turn to put Mermelstein in front. The river then brought the A, and suddenly Mermelstein is up around 4.4 million while Peck has just 100,000.

“Hey, I have one big blind,” Peck said with a shrug. Meanwhile Carrillo appeared to be telling the others he’d folded a pair of queens. –MH

5:44pm: Raul Paez eliminated in 5th place ($38,040)
Level 30 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (ante 10,000)

After over two hours without an elimination, two players have fallen in the last two hands. Raul “El Toro” Paez was the next to go, with Ruben Suarez scoring another knockout. That hand was picked up with Paez open shoving 1,100,000 from under the gun and Suarez calling in the big blind. 

Raul Paez-LAPT Panama-2016-0022.jpg

Raul “El Toro” Paez – 5th place

It was a flip, with Paez and his KJ needing to hit to stay alive. Suarez held 99 and after the A5228 runout, “El Toro” was bounced in 5th place. He’ll make $38,000 for his final table run and suddenly, Ruben Suarez is playing close to half the chips in play with 4,800,000. —  WOC

5:41pm: Paul Cukier eliminated in 6th place ($29,880)
Level 30 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (ante 10,000)

Paul Cukier open-raised all in for just over 600,000 from under the gun, and it folded around to Ruben Suarez in the big blind. Suarez took a moment to double-check the amount of the raise then called, turning over Q10 to Cukier’s J10.

The board ran out an uneventful 48KK9, and Cukier is out in sixth. Suarez is up to 3.45 million and looks to have grabbed the lead with five left. –MH

Paul Cukier-LAPT Panama-2016-9831.jpg-Paul Cukier-LAPT Panama-2016-9997.jpg

Paul Cukier – 6th place

5:33pm: Four shoves, no calls
Level 30 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (ante 10,000)

Yes, we just titled a post with this exact wording but this time, there were not three shoves but four. Three of those came from the low man on the final table totem pole, as Raul “El Toro” Paez has dropped back below the 1,000,000 chip mark. 

He’s been able to slightly increase his stack, enough so that he’s now longer bottom. That’s where Paul Cukier is playing 750,000, after folding to Ruben Suarez’s shove from the small blind. Cukier couldn’t find a call in the big and he’s now working just seven big blinds. — WOC

5:28pm: Carrillo folds overpair
Level 30 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (ante 10,000)

Very few hands have gotten to a flop over the last half hour and even fewer have gotten to the turn. Three players just saw a flop but a shove from Ruben Suarez ended proceedings and dropped Andres Carrillo under 2,000,000. 

Action was picked up with Suarez opening in the hijack to 225,000 and after some folds, Carrillo and Aaron Mermelstein called in the blinds. The Columbian led the 772 flop for 240,000 and after the chip leader folded, Suarez shoved. He had his opponent slightly covered and after some thought, Carrillo folded 88 face up. 

Mermelstein looked surprised, Suarez looked relieved and we continue on six-handed. — WOC

5:23pm: New level, Mermelstein leading final six
Level 30 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (ante 10,000)

With six players still part of the mix, the blinds and antes have gone up once again. A quick look at the counts shows how much shallower the short stacks are getting. –MH







Name Country Chips
Aaron Mermelstein USA 3,350,000
Ruben Suarez Venezuela 2,100,000
Andres Carrillo Colombia 1,770,000
Austin Peck USA 1,495,000
Paul Cukier Costa Rica 1,050,000
Raul Paez Spain 950,000

30 50,000 100,000 10,000

5:12pm: Three shoves, no calls
Level 29 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

The last quarter-hour of Level 29 has been relatively uneventful. With a handful of short stacks, the action has been tight and even when those short stacks move in, there hasn’t been any calls. Three of those shoves have occurred over the last few hands, with Raul Paez doing it twice. 

The first of those shoves came from chip leader Aaron Mermelstein though, after Andres Carrillo limped the small blind. Mermelstein moved in from the big and Carrillo folded to take a small hit down near 1,500,000. 

Paez is now over the 1,000,000 chip mark, the first time he can say that since doubling with aces. He’s likely going to need another one of those doubles though, as the blinds and antes are set to go up again and those high costs are going to make it tough for him to stay afloat. — WOC

5:03pm: Mermelstein moves ahead
Level 29 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

Andres Currillo opened for 230,000 from the cutoff, and after a bit of deliberation Aaron Mermelstein called from the button. The blinds stepped aside, and following the 655 flop, Currillo bet 200,000 and Mermelstein called.

The turn was the 3, and after Currillo checked the pace slowed a bit as Mermelstein took a half-minute before betting 450,000, and Currillo took about the same amount of time before calling.

The dealer burned a card and completed the board with the 4, and Currillo checked again. Mermelstein didn’t take too long before setting a big column of white 25,000 chips out in front of him, signaling a bet of 500,000, and Currillo went deep into the tank for about three minutes before finally letting his hand go.

Mermelstein bumps up to 2.82 million on that one, having followed Currillo’s earlier path and gone from worst to first to take over the chip lead. Meanwhile Currillo has about 1.95 million now. –MH

Aaron Mermelstein-LAPT Panama-2016-0019.jpg

Mermelstein moves into first position

4:50pm: Another double in the big blind
Level 29 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

With the stacks short, we won’t be surprised if most of our updates over the next level or so involve strictly pre flop encounters. One just occurred in a blind versus blind encounter, with Aaron Mermelstein doubling to get back to average. 

The table folded to Andres Carrillo, who asked for a count of Mermelstein’s stack in the big blind. The chip leader was in the small blind and after he declared “all-in”, Mermelstein snap called. His 990,000 was at risk and he needed to hold to double, as he had A8 to Carrillo’s Q10.

The Columbian picked up tons of outs on the turn but after the J7555 board ran out, Mermelstein was confirmed the double. He’s now playing close to 2,100,000 while Carrillo is still leading with his 3,000,000 chip stack. — WOC

4:46pm: Suarez straightens out Peck
Level 29 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

Compared to some other players at this final table, Austin Peck has yet to show much emotion. Win, lose or draw, he’s kept a straight face and remained level but after Ruben Suarez rivered a straight and got paid off by Peck, we’ve seen the first break in that unbreakable face. 

Action was picked up on a board of 96234, with Peck leading out for 110,000. He was in the small blind and Suarez, in the big, counted his chips before pushing out a raise. It was sized at 330,000 and after some thought, Peck called. 

“Good call.” Aaron Mermelstein said, peaking his head around the dealer. It might have been good in the long run but in this spot, it was incorrect, as Suarez tabled Q5 for a rivered straight. Peck looked confused by all of it, flashing his opponent a glare before rolling his eyes.

His cards were in the muck and a decent portion of his stack was now with Suarez, with both players now near the chip average heading through Level 29. — WOC

Ruben Suarez-LAPT Panama-2016-9988.jpg

Ruben there, done that

4:40pm: All-in and no call
Level 29 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

The average stack right now is a bit over 22 big blinds, which means players under that mark are anxious to change their circumstances quickly.

We just watched three straight hands involving all-in opening shoves before the flop, and in all three cases no one chose to challenge the at-risk players.

In fact, the pushes came from three different ones — first Raul Paez, then Ruben Suarez, then Aaron Mermelstein — and each of those three won the blinds and antes as a result. –MH

4:31pm: The perfect spot for aces
Level 29 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

A few hands after Austin Peck doubled, another short stack was multiplying his chips by two. Raul “El Toro” Paez has been trending downwards and while he’s still under seven figures, he has a little more room to work after picking up pocket aces in a perfect spot against Paul Cukier. 

The tabled folded to Cukier and the Costa Rican shoved from the small blind. Paez, who was behind 460,000 in the big blind checked his cards and then snap called, turning over AA. Cukier rolled his eyes and threw over Q2 and while he hit a pair on the Q64 flop, the 9 turn and K river didn’t bring him anything else. 

He shipped a quarter of his stack to his left, leaving himself with 1,300,000 and Paez, who started the day as the final table chip leader, might be starting a comeback after being left for dead only a few minutes ago. — WOC

Raul Paez-LAPT Panama-2016-9990.jpg

Paez fighter, back up off the mat

4:27pm: Peck picks up a double
Level 29 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

In one of the first hands of Level 29, one of the short stacks doubled, as Austin Peck’s pair of eights held against Ruben Suarez’s lower pocket pair. The hand was picked up with Suarez opening to 260,000 from under the gun after after some folds, Peck shoved from the big blind. 

His stack weighed in at 1,155,000 but that count wasn’t confirmed until after the runout, as Suarez snap called without any additional information. Peck tabled 88 and Suarez cringed when he saw the pair, as he held 77

The AJ62A runout confirmed Peck’s double and when the dust settled, he was playing over the chip average for the first time in recent memory. On the other end of the spectrum, Suarez was at his lowest point of the day, working 1,100,000. — WOC

4:25pm: Play resumes; 6 remain
Level 29 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

The final six are back and play has resumed. At the start of that last level Raul Paez was the chip leader and Andres Carrillo the short stack. They’ve switched positions now with Carrillo on top and Paez returning to a stack of just over six big blinds. –MH







Name Country Chips
Andres Carrillo Colombia 4,050,000
Ruben Suarez Venezuela 2,105,000
Paul Cukier Costa Rica 1,815,000
Austin Peck USA 1,165,000
Aaron Mermelstein USA 1,005,000
Raul Paez Spain 500,000

Raul Paez-LAPT Panama-2016-9977.jpg

Paez looks to reverse downward trend

29 40,000 80,000 10,000

4:07pm: Break time

The remaining six players have reached the end of another level, and with Andres Carrillo the big stack and Raul Paez having gotten short another 15-minute break has arrived. –MH

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4:03pm: Mermelstein’s miracle river
Level 28 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (ante 10,000)

Aaron Mermelstein, as we mentioned earlier, has been battling throughout this Day 4 session. Most of those battles have been with the American being the shortest stack at the final table but he’s no longer bottom, after catching a miracle river to double through Paul Cukier. 

Mermelstein moved all-in for 495,000 from middle position and after some folds, Cukier snap called in the big blind. The Costa Rican held KK, meaning Mermelstein’s 44 was drawing to just two immediate outs. The Q85 flop kept the bigger pocket pair in the lead and Mermelstein didn’t improve with the turn either. 

The 5 paired the board and had Cukier just one card from scoring the knockout but that final card kept Mermelstein alive. The 4 spiked on the river, giving him a full house and a second life in this LAPT9 Panama Main Event. 

After Mermelstein stacked up his nearly 1,100,000 chip stack, a few more hands played out before the final table took their second break of the day. Cukier will head on that break below the chip average, as he’s playing 1,700,000. An updated look at the counts will be posted shortly. — WOC

3:58pm: Paez tanks, and tanks, and folds
Level 28 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (ante 10,000)

Just watched a hand lasting close to 10 minutes just now. No showdown — it only reached the turn — but a decent quantity of drama, nonetheless.

Raul Paez opened for 130,000 from middle position, then it folded to Ruben Suarez in the big blind who made it 275,000 to go. Paez thought two full minutes before calling, and the pair watched the flop come 27Q.

Suarez checked, and after taking another couple of minutes Paez bet 190,000, leaving himself about 630,000 behind. Suarez acted immediately, announcing he was all-in, and another tank ensued for Paez.

After several minutes, and with the tournament director counting down the seconds in Spanish as the clock had been called, Paez finally let his hand go to keep that 630,000. Suarez, meanwhile, is up to 2.56 million. –MH

3:44pm: Anderson Blanco eliminated in 7th place ($22,300)
Level 28 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (ante 10,000)

Anderson Blanco-LAPT Panama-2016-9962.jpg

Anderson Blanco – 7th place

It’s been nearly two and a half hours since the last elimination and finally, we are down to our final six. That’s because Andres Carrillo just cracked aces to not only extend his chip lead but also send Anderson Blanco to the rail in 7th place. 

Action was picked up with Carrillo opening to 155,000 from the cutoff and after two folds, Blanco three-bet to 410,000 from the big blind. Carrillo got a count and then called, only to see Blanco, after some thought, shove the 1097 flop for 910,000. 

The all-in was just below a pot-sized bet and Carrillo needed some time to come to a decision. Eventually, he called and while he didn’t like to see Blanco’s AA, he was in decent shape with 88. His pair had flopped an open ended straight draw, a draw that came in right away on the turn. 

The 6 left Blanco drawing to two outs for a chop but the 4 wasn’t one of them, meaning he was officially eliminated. He’ll make $22,300 for his final table run and Andres Carrillo is now playing close to 4,100,000, good for the chip lead at this LAPT9 Panama final table. — WOC

3:29pm: Preflop poker
Level 28 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (ante 10,000)

We’re amid a straight of raise-and-take hands, with no flops and relatively little chip movement. 

An exception to the pattern saw leader Andres Carrillo raise from middle position to 125,000, then Ruben Suarez put in a three-bet to 325,000 from the blinds, eventually forcing a fold from Carrillo. But then came Austin Peck raising from the hijack to 120,000, Paul Cukier reraising from the small blind to 325,000, and a fold from Peck, thereby starting a new pattern.

Carrillo is still the leader, while Aaron Mermelstein is the current short stack with about 850,000 — a little over 14 big blinds. –MH

3:17pm: Risotto done, Ruben shoves
Level 28 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (ante 10,000)

Update on the blogger’s lunch, my chicken risotto is done and Martin is halfway through his. Update on the poker, it’s been slow over the last half-hour. 

Ruben Suarez has fallen under the 1,000,000 chip mark early in Level 28 but he’s now back over that threshold after getting a shove through. Aaron Mermelstein opened to 130,000 from early position and Suarez, on the button, three-bet all-in for 875,000. Mermelstein thought for a few moments before folding, electing to not play for the better part of half his stack. 

Suarez is now playing close to 15 big blinds, while Mermelstein is near 20 bigs. — WOC

3:14pm: Carrillo check-folds, then check-raises
Level 28 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (ante 10,000)

The last two hands have been a battle of opposites. Andres Carrillo is at the top of the leaderboard and Austin Peck is near the bottom and they’ve swapped blows in back to back encounters to result in a small net win for the Columbian chip leader. 

Action was picked up in the first hand with Carrillo opening to 125,000 from the hijack and after a fold, Peck three-bet to 270,000 from the button. The blinds folded and Carrillo called, only to check-fold the A32 flop to a Peck continuation bet. 

In the very next hand, Carrillo opened to 125,000 and Peck called in the cutoff. The two players saw a J43 flop and Carrillo checked, with Peck taking the betting lead with a 140,000 chip wager. Carrillo had other plans though, check-raising to 340,000 to put the pressure on the short stack.

Peck folded and Carrillo took the pot to increase his final table chip lead. He’s up to 2,750,000 while Peck is down near the 1,100,000 chip mark. — WOC

Andres Carrillo-LAPT Panama-2016-9961.jpg

Andres the giant

3:08pm: Carrillo cruises into lead
Level 28 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (ante 10,000)

Sitting to the left of Raul Paez has worked out quite well for Andres Currillo this afternoon. With seven players left he was seventh in chips, but now as a new level begins he’s ascended all of the way into first position. Updated counts below. –MH








Name Country Chips
Andres Carrillo Colombia 2,680,000
Paul Cukier Costa Rica 2,050,000
Anderson Blanco Colombia 1,580,000
Raul Paez Spain 1,300,000
Austin Peck USA 1,275,000
Aaron Mermelstein USA 1,225,000
Ruben Suarez Venezuela 985,000

28 30,000 60,000 10,000

2:55pm: Mermelstein flexes his new stack
Level 27 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Aaron Mermelstein returned from the last break as the shortest stack of the remaining seven players but after a double, and some other vicotries, he’s back up near the chip average. He just flexed those newly won chips, shoving over a Paul Cukier open.

Cukier raised to 105,000 from the hijack and after some folds, Mermelstein three-bet shoved for 1,185,000. Cukier thought for a few seconds and then peered at his cards a handful of times. We saw them, the tournament staff them, the rail saw them but Mermelstein didn’t, so we won’t divulge what he had. 

Eventually, he folded and Mermelstein, as he was taking in the pot, asked, “You have a pair?” Curiek answered with a side to side shake of his head, before saying it was a “flip”. Curiek didn’t want to flip for half of his stack, as he’s working close to 2,200,000 heading towards the end of Level 27. — WOC

2:42pm: Carrillo collects from Paez
Level 27 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Raul Paez is no longer the chip leader, having lost the lead to Paul Crukier following a hand against the hard-charging Andres Carrillo.

It began with Paez opening for 110,000 from the hijack and Carrillo calling from the cutoff. The flop came 595, and Paez continued for 120,000. Carrillo called. The turn then brought the 10 and a check from Paez, and Carrillo took the opening to fire a bet of 160,000. Paez thought about it, then called.

The river brought the J. Paez checked again, and this time Carrillo set out a bet of 300,000. Paez hemmed and hawed for nearly a minute, then finally tossed out chips to call. Carrillo then quickly showed his hand — KJ for a flush — and Paez mucked. 

That one pushes Carrillo up to 2.09 million, while Paez slips to 1.58 million. –MH

2:34pm: Mermelstein doubles through Suarez
Level 27 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Ruben Suarez opened with a raise to 105,000 from middle position, and it folded around to Aaron Mermelstein in the big blind who reraise-shoved for 620,000 total. Suarez called the push, showing KJ, while Mermelstein tabled 66.

The board ran out 8534A, meaning the sixes held and Mermelstein doubled up to 1.27 million. Suarez now has 935,000, having tumbled back to 935,000. –MH

2:29pm: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Burn Card
Level 27 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Martin Harris is a lot of things. He’s a blogger, some would even consider him a reporter actually, he’s a college professor, he’s a musician but most importantly, he’s a poker innovator. While it’s not offered on the SCOOP schedule or as a bracelet event at the WSOP, yet, Harris has recently devised a variant of Badugi called ‘Sgt. Pepper’.

Where the best hand in Badugi is ace to four with all four suits, in ‘Sgt. Pepper’ the best hand is ace to four with one, less lonely, heart. The rest of your cards can be any suit and so far, during the games we’ve played, I’ve yet to make a qualifying hand. Martin has, beating me out of some chocolates earlier this weekend, and while you may be wondering why we’re telling you this, it’s because the 6 was just exposed pre flop.

It was then tabled and kept as the burn card, although we never saw a flop. Austin Peck opened the cutoff to 105,000 and took down the blinds and antes but the lonely burn card was meaningful to us, even though it might not have been to the rest of the tournament. — WOC

2:26pm: Blanco versus the Americans
Level 27 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Anderson Blanco has been aggressive at this final table and most of that aggression has been in the form of pre flop raises and re-raises. Most of those re-raises have come against the two Americans to his immediate right and Austin Peck was the most recent victim. 

Peck opened to 105,000 from the cutoff and Blanco, on the button, three-bet to 235,000. After the blinds folded, Peck counted out his remaining 950,000 and after a quick trip to the tank, he folded. He’s now below seven-figures for the first time today, while Blanco is over the chip average. — WOC

2:21pm: Mermelstein versus the world
Level 27 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

On one of the first hands back from the break, Aaron Mermelstein open-raised all-in for 625,000 from middle position. It took a while, but eventually the table folded and he secured the blinds and antes.

“You guys aren’t making it easy,” said Mermelstein with a grin as he collected the pot. “I can’t even see a flop with you guys!”

On the next hand Mermelstein watched Raul Paez open from late position, then Mermelstein three-bet and earned the pot.

Then on the one after that, Paul Cukier opened for 105,000 and it folded to Mermelstein who made it 240,000 to go. Cukier then announced he was all-in, and Mermelstein had to fold again.

The two-time WPT champ is sitting on about 790,000 right now, still trying to build that stack back up again. –MH

Aaron Mermeltein-LAPT Panama-2016-9973.jpg

Mermelstein battling

2:09pm: Play resumes; 7 remain
Level 27 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Players are back and the first hand of Level 27 is being dealt. Raul Paez held steady during that level to maintain the lead, Paul Cukier is closing in, and Aaron Mermelstein has slipped behind the rest of the pack. Updated counts below. –MH








Name Country Chips
Raul Paez Spain 2,510,000
Paul Cukier Costa Rica 2,435,000
Ruben Suarez Venezuela 1,460,000
Anderson Blanco Colombia 1,445,000
Andres Carrillo Colombia 1,385,000
Austin Peck USA 1,365,000
Aaron Mermelstein USA 555,000

27 25,000 50,000 5,000

1:50pm: Break time

Though that last hand continued well into it, players now still have most of the 15-minute break. –MH

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1:49pm: Peck folds, Cukier chips up before break
Level 26 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

The last hand of Level 26 was likely the most meaningful hand of the level, as Paul Cukier shoved the turn and Austin Peck made potentially, if he was correct, the fold of the tournament. Action was picked up with Peck opening to 85,000 from under the gun and after Anderson Blanco called as the next player to act, Cukier three-bet from the cutoff. 

The raise weighed in at 254,000 and after some folds, Peck called and Blanco folded to send two to the flop. Peck check-called 275,000 on the A85 flop and after the 8 fell on the turn, he checked for a second time. 

Cukier took some time to count out his remaining 1,200,000 chip stack and then verbalized “all-in”. With 1,300,000 in front of him, the shove was more or less for Peck’s tournament life as well and after close to two minutes of thought, he begrudgingly folded AQ face up. 

While the rest of the final table shot from their seats to start break, Peck stayed to access the damage that hand had done to his stack. He’s now under the chip average for the first time today, while Cukier is up near 2,400,000 heading towards the first 15-minute recess of this Day 4 session. 

An update of the chip counts will be posted shortly. — WOC

Paul Cukier-LAPT Panama-2016-9946.jpg

Cukier collecting

1:44pm: Carrillo calls Suarez’s barrel
Level 26 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Ruben Suarez has been pretty active so far but that activity just got him in a little trouble against Andres Carrillo. The Columbian picked off the Venezuelan’s river bluff to continue his climb up the final table leaderboard. 

Ruben Suarez-LAPT Panama-2016-9950.jpg

South bound Suarez

Action was picked up with Carrillo defending his big blind and check-calling a 55,000 chip bet on a K82 flop. The 3 fell on the turn and both players checked and Carrillo tapped the table for a third time after the 9 completed the board. Suarez then reverted back to his aggressive ways, betting 205,000. 

It was a pot sized bet and with close to 850,000 in front of him, it represented nearly a quarter of Carrillo’s remaining stack. He thought for a minute and then called, before seeing his opponent table AQ. Carrillo answered with K9 and his rivered two pair was good to take the pot and move closer to the chip average. — WOC

1:39pm: Caution is the word
Level 26 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

It’s been relatively quiet over the last 10 minutes or so as Level 26 continues.

We’ve seen Ruben Suarez defend his blind versus an Aaron Mermelstein button raise, then check-raise the flop to win a pot, showing second pair as he did. Mermelstein has slipped to around 760,000 now, having become the short stack.

Raul Paez opened the next hand to win the blinds and antes.  The next hand after that saw the short stack Andres Carrillo open for 100,000 from middle position, then Ruben Suarez three-bet to 220,000 from the small blind. When the action returned to Carrillo he thought for about a minute, then folded to preserve his stack of about 910,000. 

There are about 10 minutes to go until the end of the level and the first break of the day. –MH

1:29pm: Peck picks one up against chip leader
Level 26 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Since the elimination of Alcides Gomez, it’s been relatively quiet. Tactical play is the name of the game and while Raul Paez is still the chip leader, he was just cut down in a recent pot. He opened to 85,000 from the cutoff and Austin Peck defended his big blind to see a Q74 flop. 

Peck check-called 80,000 and after the 3 fell on the turn, both players checked. The 2 completed the board and Peck then took the betting lead, pushing out 130,000. The chips barely crossed the line before Paez sent his hand into the muck, conceding the pot to his American counterpart. 

As mentioned, Paez is still leading, playing close to 2,700,000 but Peck has had a good start to this LAPT9 Panama final table, as he’s up near 1,650,000. — WOC

1:21pm: Carrillo chips up via shove
Level 26 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Andres Carrillo came in as one of the shortest stacks at this LAPT9 Panama final table and while he’s been relatively quiet, he’s now up and over the 1,000,000-chip mark after getting a shove through. Action was picked up with Ruben Suarez opening to 80,000 from the cutoff and after chip leader Raul Paez called in the small blind, Carrillo shoved from the big. 

The Columbian’s stack weighed in at 877,000 and Suarez looked like he had a decision to make. He spent close to two minutes in tank but couldn’t find a call, electing to fold to the short stacked shoved. Paez only needed a few seconds to fold and Carrillo then stacked over seven figures for the first time in this tournament. — WOC

Andres Carrillo-LAPT Panama-2016-9966.jpg

Carrillo on the comeback trail

1:17pm: Chip leader versus short stack
Level 26 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Since the elimination of Alcides Gomez earlier, Andres Carrillo has been the short stack among the final seven. 

Carrillo open-raised all-in once a short while ago, but got no callers. On a hand shortly after that one, chip leader Raul Paez (on Carrillo’s right) opened for 85,000 from the hijack, and after thinking a while Carrillo called from the cutoff, leaving himself about 550,000 behind.

The flop came 510Q, and Paez continued for 83,000. Carrillo sat quietly about 20 seconds, then announced he was raising all-in and Paez quickly let his hand go.

Carrillo has about 790,000 now, and is still seventh of seven. –MH

1:06pm: Cukier check-raise earns pot
Level 26 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

Aaron Mermelstein raised to 90,000 from middle position and it folded around to Paul Cukier who called from the big blind. 

The flop came 43K and Cukier checked. Mermelstein continued for 60,000, and Cukier called. The turn brought the 10 and another check from Cukier, and this time Mermelstein fired 110,000. Cukier took about a half-minute, then check-raised to 270,000. Mermelstein studied the situation for a short while, then tossed his hand away. 

Cukier is up to 1.83 million and in second position now behind Raul Paez while Mermelstein slips to 1.19 million. –MH

12:59pm: Introducing the chip leader
Level 26 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

The action has been centered around the aggressive Americans and Anderson Blanco but a few minutes into Level 26, chip leader Raul “El Toro” Paez announced himself to the field. That hand was picked up with Blanco opening to 80,000 from under the gun and after a few folds, Paez called in the cutoff. 

Austin Peck came along in the big blind and he then checked the 642 flop. Blanco continued for 75,000 and Paez called before Peck called as well. All three saw the board pair on the turn with the 6 and after Peck and Blanco checked, Paez took the betting lead with a 180,000 chip wager. 

Both players folded and “El Toro” increased his chip lead with the first victory of this Day 4 session. He’s now playing close to 2,700,000. — WOC

12:51pm: Blanco, Blanco, Blanco
Level 26 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (ante 5,000)

The blinds and antes have gone up and so has Anderson Blanco’s stack. The Columbian has won the last few pots to increase his standing and announce himself to this final table in a big way. 

The first hand saw Austin Peck open to 65,000 from the hijack and Blanco, in the cutoff, three-bet to 134,000. Peck called and then check-folded on the 632 flop to a 223,000 chip bet.  

The next hand didn’t make it to a flop, as Aaron Mermelstein opened to 60,000 and Blanco three-bet to 187,000 from the hijack. Mermelstein quickly folded and Blanco showed AK before taking in the pot.

He wasn’t done picking on the Americans though, taking another pot from Mermelstein after the Philadelphia native check-folded to a 165,000 chip bet on a KJ5 flop. Once his run was over, Blanco stacked up just over 1,600,000, pushing himself above the chip average for the first time since midway through Day 3. — WOC

26 20,000 40,000 5,000

12:38pm: Alcides Gomez eliminated in 8th place ($15,440)
Level 25 – Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 4,000)

Short stack Alcides Gomez open-raised all-in once from middle position and got no callers, then did so again on the next hand and it folded around to Austin Peck in the small blind.

Peck paused, then said he was calling the push by Gomez, worth about 555,000. Anderson Blanco quickly tossed his hand away from the big blind, and the players tabled their hands:

Peck: KK
Gomez: AJ

Bad news for Gomez, and five cards later it was worse, as the 4Q747 runout didn’t help him and he exits in eighth place.

Alcides Gomez-LAPT Panama-2016-9835.jpg

Alcides Gomez – 8th place

Peck is now up around 1.84 million.–MH

12:31pm: Austin powers (again)
Level 25 – Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 4,000)

Austin Peck raised again to 65,000 from UTG, Raul Paez called from the button, and Aaron Mermelstein also called from the big blind.

The flop came 48A and all three players checked. Then after the 6 turn, Mermelstein bet 85,000, then Peck raised to 260,000. Paez quickly folded, and after thinking a short while Mermelstein tossed his hand away also, doing so face up and showing he had AJ.

Austin Eric Peck-LAPT Panama-2016-9958.jpg

If Austin Peck picked up a peck of poker pots, how many poker pots did Austin Peck pick up?

Peck is back up to 1.26 million while Mermelstein has 1.69 million. –MH

12:28pm: Suarez takes from Peck
Level 25 – Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 4,000)

Austin Peck continues to remain active in the early going here at the final table, and again he encountered some resistance from Ruben Suarez.

Peck opened for 65,000 from middle position and got two callers in Suarez (cutoff) and Raul Paez (big blind). The flop came 2J6, and after Paez checked, Peck continued for 71,000. Suarez quickly raised to 155,000, Paez folded, and after a bit of thought Peck called.

The turn brought the 7 and a check from Peck, and when Suarez fired 225,000, Peck let his hand go. Suarez bumps up to 1.91 million while Peck has 1.08 million –MH

12:15pm: Peck and Suarez clash again
Level 25 – Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 4,000)

Austin Peck and Ruben Suarez are quickly getting to know each other at this LAPT9 Panama final table. The two just got involved in a pre flop leveling war and their next battle made it’s way to the river, starting with an Austin Peck 65,000 chip open from the hijack. 

Suarez called on the button and while Alcides Gomez looked interested in the big blind, he folded to send two players to the flop. Peck led the Q107 board for 57,000 and Suarez called to see the 2 fall on the turn. Both players checked and the 2 paired the board on the river, bringing another check from Peck. 

Suarez wasn’t going to mirror that action though, as he bet 110,000. Peck thought for a few moments and then called, only to be shown Q8. Suarez’s hand was good and after their second battle, Suarez was back up and over the 1,500,000 chip mark, while Peck has dropped slightly below that number. — WOC

12:13pm: Four-bet alert!
Level 25 – Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 4,000)

The first few hands of this restart were relatively uneventful but after a slow start, the first four-bet at the LAPT9 Panama final table saw Austin Peck pick up a decent pot. Action was picked up with Peck opening to 65,000 from the cutoff and after a fold, Ruben Suarez three-bet to 140,000. 

The big blind folded and after some thought, Peck cut out a raise. He pushed 340,000 across the line for a four-bet and while Suarez spent a minute in the tank, he eventually folded to concede the pot to the youngest player at this final table. When the dust settled, Peck was playing close to 1,500,000 and Suarez had dropped slightly to 1,350,000. — WOC

Final Table-LAPT Panama-2016-9938.jpg

The LAPT9 Panama Main Event final table begins

12:10pm: Play begins
Level 25 – Blinds 15,000/30,000 (ante 4,000)

The final table has begun! Again, a reminder of where everyone is seated and the stacks to start:









Seat Name Country Chips
1 Austin Peck USA 1,351,000
2 Anderson Blanco Colombia 1,225,000
3 Ruben Suarez Venezuela 1,477,000
4 Paul Cukier Costa Rica 1,341,000
5 Alcides Gomez USA 562,000
6 Raul Paez Spain 2,580,000
7 Andres Carrillo Colombia 659,000
8 Aaron Mermelstein USA 1,802,000

There are about 36 minutes left to go in Level 25. –MH

25 15,000 30,000 4,000

11:30am: Final table player profiles

From 553 entries just eight players remain with a chance to become the next LAPT Main Event champion. Play gets underway in about half an hour, which gives you plenty of time to get to know the final eight with these quick introductions:

Seat 1: Austin Peck, USA — 1,351,000

Though he won’t be turning 21 until this August, Austin Peck has already had plenty of experience at the tournament tables where he’s been collecting cashes steadily for the last couple of years playing in places where the playing age is 18 and up. 

In the USA he’s cashes on several different tours, the highlight coming this February when he won a WSOP Circuit ring in an event at West Palm Beach. A couple of weeks after that he finished 20th in the World Poker Tour Fallsview Poker Classic Main Event in Niagara Falls, then last month earned a career-high cash of $24,467 by final-tabling the WPT DeepStacks event in Jacksonville, Florida where he finished fifth. Taking sixth or better today will exceed that total. –MH

Seat 2: Anderson Blanco, Colombia — 1,225,000

One of two Colombians at today’s final table, Anderson Blanco carried the chip lead into yesterday’s Day 3, fell back to short-stacked status for much of the afternoon, then successfully climbed back to have an almost-average stack to start today’s final table. Blanco has already guaranteed himself a career-high score today, wherever he finishes. He also has topped his previous highest finish in an LAPT Main Event, a 19th-place showing at LAPT5 Colombia. –MH

Seat 3: Ruben Suarez, Venezuela — 1,477,000

Ruben Suarez is the 13th Venezuelan player to make an LAPT Main Event final table, and hopes to be the first of that group to break through and claim a title. He has only a couple of cashes on his tournament poker résumé thus far, including a 27th-place finish in the LAPT8 Peru Main Event a year ago. His biggest cash came right here in Panama City back in January when he won a $1,000 Jackies Poker Tour event, topping a 235-entry field to earn $48,000. –MH

Seat 4: Paul Cukier, Costa Rica — 1,341,000

The lone Costa Rican left in the field, Paul Cukier comes from a poker-playing family, as he’s the grandson of Max and Maria Stern, the first husband and wife ever to each win a WSOP bracelet. Cukier has a handful of previous small cashes collected in the USA, at the PCA in the Bahamas, and in San Jose in his native country. His biggest previous cash was for $4,043 for finishing 156th in a WSOP event back in 2012, so he’s already assured himself of a career-high payday here in Panama today. –MH

Seat 5: Alcides Gomez, USA — 562,000

The Miami based pro Alcides Gomez has his fair share of final table results and experience including a podium finish from last month’s Seminole Hard Rock Poker Challenge Main Event. He’ll return today as the low man on the totem pole, playing just over 560,000 and he’ll need to spin up a stack if he’s going to notch another podium finish in this LAPT9 Panama Main Event. –WOC

Seat 6: Raul Paez, Spain — 2,580,000

Raul Paez will return to the final table as the chip leader. With over $1,800,000 in career earnings, “El Toro” is the most experienced player remaining and he’s hoping that the third time can be the charm at an LAPT final table. The Spaniard finished third at the Main Event final table in Columbia during Season 5, then three years ago bubbled the final table in Panama. –WOC   

Seat 7: Andres Carrillo, Colombia — 659,000

Andres Carrillo returns as one of two players under the million-chip mark, meaning that the Columbian will likely be active early at this LAPT9 Panama final table. Carrillo’s past tournament results are relatively few and far between, but with scores from across the globe — including EPT final table finishes in Barcelona and Malta — if he is able to find an early double, he’ll be a contender. –WOC

Seat 8: Aaron Mermelstein, USA — 1,802,000

As we said yesterday, if chip leader Raul Paez is the creme, Aaron Mermelstein is what settles just under the creme. He’ll come back second in chips and the two-time World Poker Tour champion will be looking to make Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino history today. He currently sits third on the all-time Sortis money list and a deep run today could earn him his best career LAPT finish and move him up that leaderboard. –WOC   


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

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