Saturday, June 05, 2010

Travel Report: LAPT Lima, Day 3

Latin American Poker TourWe’ve made it to Saturday morning, our last full day here in Lima, Peru to cover the Latin American Poker Tour Main Event. The final table starts at noon today. My flight back to Las Vegas is late tomorrow, meaning I’ll be returning Sin City early Monday morning, and will be back on the floor there in the Rio to help cover the WSOP soon thereafter.

I’ve definitely enjoyed the week thus far, and am grateful for having had the opportunity to explore another part of the world like this, even in a limited way. But I have had this weird “twice removed” kind of feeling this week. Am not in Vegas, where part of me feels like I should be just now. But of course that’s not really home either. Will probably be a little strange to go back to LV from here rather than really going home.

Last night Day 3 of the event finished relatively early. Play began around 12:30 p.m. and even with frequent breaks (per the video crew) the tourney had played down from 24 to eight players by a little after six o’clock. Spent a couple of hours afterwards taking care of various things, including writing up a wrap post of Day 3, then a little later a group of us went out in search of some local eats.

Larcomar Mall, Lima, PeruWe rambled it over to the Larcomar Mall, an extensive, three-level pedestrian shopping area a few blocks from the casino with many restaurants, shops, arcades, a bowling alley, and more. I think there’s a big movie theater down in there somewhere, too. Not unlike what you’d encounter in some American big cities, made more familiar by the presence of Chili’s, Starbucks, and even a KFC (no shinola). We wandered around a bit before settling on Vista Al Mar, a restaurant that offered a large menu of options from which we all found dishes to our liking. I had a plate full of yummy seafood paella, greatly enjoying the food, the conversation, and the oceanside view.

When it came time to pay the bill, a couple of us had Peruvian sol, while others have continued to stick with U.S. dollars (which are accepted most everywhere, it seems). We had the waiter tell us what we would owe in both currencies, and it was clear the restaurant’s not-necessarily-on-the-up-and-up exchange rate meant paying with the American moneys would mean a much larger expense. So the guys with sol paid, and the ones without paid them.

Walked around a little afterwards, and some of our conversation revolved around what was easily the hand of the day on Friday, a huge pot won by Jose “Nacho” Barbero that propelled him into the chip lead to start today’s final table.

The hand was played up on the feature table, located on a stage at the far end of the poker room. A little difficult to follow stack sizes up there, given the access, but we’d eventually learn Barbero had 713,000 to start the hand, while his opponent, the American Chris Conrad, had something like a million or more. There were 11 players left, and the blinds were 12,000/24,000 with a 3,000 ante.

Barbero and Conrad had been involved in a lot of back-and-forthing up to this point, and so there was some history when Barbero opened with a raise, then Conrad three-bet him. “Nacho” shoved all in, and Conrad made the call with his AcQd. Barbero then showed his hand -- 8c4s!

“Nacho” walked around a bit as we waited for the community cards to come. All eyes were on him as people expressed incredulity to one another about his hand. Barbero continued to make a slow circle, collar popped, hands in jeans pockets, and a mischievous-looking grin on his face conveying how he’d been caught doing something that perhaps he shouldn’t have.

But it all worked out -- in most dramatic fashion. Down to the river where only an eight or four would save him, the 8s fell, and Barbero was the chip leader. And the crowd went loco.

That’s been another fun part of LAPT Lima, the highly festive atmosphere created by the fans cheering on the action. Probably something like 120 or more there yesterday, and I expect we’ll see a similar crowd today. There is one Peruvian left in the final eight -- Erick Cabrera -- who was getting a lot of support on Friday. Six other countries are represented as well, including one American, the young Ben Barrows who began Day 2 with less than the starting stack.

Atlantic City Casino, Lima, PeruAs you follow the WSOP coverage over on PokerNews, you can check over at the PokerStars blog to see how it all plays out. Barbero won the last LAPT event at Punta del Este, besting a field of 307 to do so. There were 384 for LAPT Lima, so to make another final table is something in itself.

Should be fun today. We’ll see how things go after that. Might get a chance to explore Lima a little more on Sunday. Then it will be time to leave this home away from home away from home.

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