Travel Diary: Punta del Este

June 07, 2012


Last week I paid my third visit to Uruguay’s pride and joy — Punta del Este — the loyal host of the Latin American Poker Tour. The four-day event drew a poker-playing crowd of 375 players to the plush Mantra Resort Hotel and Spa. With Punta del Este being known as the place to be between December and February, people often ask why we go in winter. Well, there are many reasons, such as the ability for poker players to take over the town with ease, or at the very least, the Mantra Resort, without all the congestion of half a million tourists and the extraordinary prices that come with the high-demand summer months. While laying on the beach soaking up the rays is not an option in winter, the surf, and peacefulness at this time of year is bliss for a beachside getaway. You can check out the stunning sights of Punta del Este, and the Mantra, in the following video.

After three days of play, I found myself watching the most exciting final table I have yet to watch, and that was thanks to my boyfriend, Team PokerStars Pro Angel Guillen, who was part of the final table. This event means a lot to him in Punta del Este, because it is basically where his career began, in 2009, when he finished in third place of LAPT Season 2. I spoke with Angel on Day 3 when just a handful of tables remained.

Little did Angel know, that quite possibly the luckiest hand of his career to date was ahead of him which would see him out to dinner break that night. Martin Harris recounted the hand:

“Guillen open from early position got callers in Dobrovolskiy (cutoff) and Rubinsztain (small blind). The flop came Q♦10♠8♣ and a smorgasbord of bets ensued, leaving Rubinsztain and Guillen all in and Dobrovokskiy with only a little left.
Indeed, there were so many chips in the middle of the table, it looked a lot like our plates would at dinner, the cuts of beef, sausages, and chicken claiming nearly every square inch available.

Dobrovolskiy managed to find an empty space on the felt to table his A♦A♣. Guillen showed K♠K♣. And Rubinsztain turned over the hand that currently beat them both — J♠9♣!

Rubinsztain had to think he was about to be served a nice, fortuitous helping of chips just before dinner. But the turn brought the K♦, a card that complicated things enough to upset even the strongest constitution. Guillen had made a set and was now alive with a draw to a full house or four of a kind. And Dobrovolskiy, too, had improved his slim chances just a touch and was hoping for a jack to fill a gutshot to Broadway.
Then came the river… the 8♦! Just before the rest of us filled up, Guillen had filled up… and how!
A whopping 550,000-chip pot was pushed Guillen’s way, catapulting him into second place behind leader Juan Garcia. Dobrovolskiy was left with table scraps for chips with less than 60,000. And Rubinsztain was out in 25th place, having the rest of the night to ponder over his unfortunate fate.”

I don’t usually put hand histories in my blogs, but that hand left everyone speechless, most especially, Guillen. With that boost of chips he was then able to carry them through and secure himself a seat at the final table. He didn’t let the fact that he was the short stack get him down though. He was so determined to use this second chance to scoop that trophy he had come so close to doing back in Season 2.

Final Table

As the payouts progressed through the final table, we were eventually left with just two players: Angel Guillen and Marcelo Ramos Da Fonseca. I found myself in quite a nervous situation, preparing to interview my own boyfriend as the champion, or to interview the man who defeated him. Either way, my self- composure was at risk!

As Dave Behr described, “Guillen and Marcelo Fonseca played a tough heads-up battle. Fonseca had a small chip lead to start and never relinquished it. Both players preferred to keep pots small pre-flop; most raises were for the minimum and three-bets were almost non-existent. After the flop, bets were hard to come by as the two men were very careful with all but the strongest hands.”

However, it had to end, and unfortunately for Guillen, Fonseca was dealt A♣K♥ when Guillen shoved his A♠9♣. The three outs that would save Guillen were nowhere to be seen.

Securing a third and second place on the same final table is such an incredible feat by Guillen and I couldn’t be more proud. In Season 2 he then went on to huge success at the 2009 World Series of Poker, so lets hope that pattern continues!

Fonseca was an absolute gentleman and a fantastic player, which made it much easier to deal with the self-composure issue I was so worried about! You can check out the winner interview below. Sending huge congratulations to both men, and to all that made the final table!



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