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Sometimes this job turns into a bit of a waiting game. You’re waiting for someone to bust. And while you might have acquaintances, even friends, who are playing in the tournament, your loyalties go out the window when you’re on the job. You’re waiting for someone to bust. It doesn’t matter who.
For the last hour or so we’ve been waiting for someone to bust. Canada’s Liam McMillan finally unwilling obliged when his king-jack couldn’t best Ruben Ospina’s ace-seven. With McMillan’s elimination, the waiting ended. Eight players remain in the 2012 PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour Colombian National Poker Championship. At their head is a Spaniard: Raul Paez, a man for whom tournaments in this buy-in range are something of a specialty.
When play began today, most of the players were the typical young men you’d expect to find making deep runs in big buy-in poker tournaments. But there were two very notable exceptions: Humberto Brenes and Luis Jaikel, two members of the old guard from the days of Stu Ungar. Brenes ran into some early bad luck and quickly departed. Jaikel stuck around longer but he, too, was eliminated prior to the final table.
In between those eliminations, we watched players jostle for position. Hernan Villa gave a lesson on not being sure whether a bet is a value-bet or a bluff. And, after being prone to busting early, the short stacks refused to die in the middle stages of the day.
But the blinds are merciless in tournament poker. Their continual increases ensured that we’d get to our final table of eight, one way or another. When McMillan busted, that promise was fulfilled.
The eight players that will return at noon tomorrow to play the final table of this event are:
Seat 1: Raul Paez (1,734,000) (Spain)
Seat 2: Hernan Villa (568,000) (Colombia)
Seat 3: Robbie Renehan (561,000) (Ireland)
Seat 4: Ruben Ospina (1,165,000) (Colombia)
Seat 5: Weider Vanegas (1,152,000) (Colombia)
Seat 6: Jayr Fregona (286,000) (Brazil)
Seat 7: Luis Herrera (549,000) (Colombia)
Seat 8: Cristian Velasquez (672,000) (Colombia)
Paez, the chip leader, is by far the most accomplished of these eight men. Since 2003 he has tournament winnings of almost $1.6 million. They include wins on the Partouche Poker Tour and a WPT final table in 2006, in which he finished 3rd to two guys you might have heard of: Michael Mizrachi and Scotty Nguyen.
Trailing Paez in 2nd chip position is the Day 1b and Day 2 chip leader, Ospina. As a Colombian, Ospina represents a fresh hope for Colombia. Last year, remember, local Jonathan Monsalves fell at the last in a heads-up battle with Argentine Julian Menendez.
Ospina isn’t alone though. Four other Colombians will join him at the final table, giving the host country a better than even shot to bring home the gold.
All that starts at noon local time (GMT-5) tomorrow. For now, there are a few more hours of waiting before we get down to the business of determining the LAPT Season 5 champion of the Colombian National Poker Championship.