Thursday, May 24, 2012

Travel Report: 2012 LAPT Punta del Este, Pregame

Welcome partyMade the short trek last night down the beachside highway from where we’re staying here on the east coast of South America to a little gathering place for the LAPT Punta del Este welcome party.

We arrived early to find a sparsely-populated scene in which attendees were then outnumbered by staff. Soon, however, the place filled with poker players and others, meaning we left a loud and festive scene a couple of hours later.

Besides enjoying some food and drink and reuniting with a lot of friendly faces with whom we’ve worked before on the tour, the night included LAPT President David Carrion and others announcing various honors for the recently completed LAPT Season 4 such as player of the year (Pablo Gonzalez), shorthand player of the year (Daniel Ospina), online qualifier of the year (Engelberth Varela), among others.

Lynn and SergioLynn Gilmartin and Will Thomas arrived to shoot some videos with players and others. Among the interviews Lynn conducted was one with our buddy and fellow PokerStars blogger Sergio Prado, and I snapped a quick photo of Sergio delivering predictions about how the Season 5 version of LAPT Punta del Este would go.

Last August this event attracted 422 entrants. Sergio thinks we’ll probably see a similar-sized field -- perhaps even larger -- this time around. That means players will be scattered all over the Mantra Resort Spa and Casino for today’s first day of play.

Once again we’ve descended on Punta del Este during what is essentially off-season for what is really a summertime destination. Sergio was telling me last night that he was told there are around 10,000 people in the city currently, whereas on New Year’s Day (the summer time) there were like 600,000 or 700,000 (!).

Highway on the beachWe noticed last year how the roads were mostly calm and quiet when we went out. Such was the case during our walk to and from the party last night as well.

That won’t be so a few hours from now, though, once the cards go in the air and hundreds of players start the process of trading chips back and forth until just one remains. If past LAPT events are any indication, things will get a little more animated at that point.

Check out the PokerStars blog today for reports on how it all goes.

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