Thursday, January 08, 2015

Travel Report: 2015 PCA, Day 2 -- The Surge

Last fall when I was in Lima reporting on the final event of Season 7 of the Latin American Poker Tour, I first heard about the plan to kick off Season 8 with a regular LAPT event in the Bahamas. The tournament would be positioned as a kind of special preliminary tourney at the PCA, and thus could draw both the regular tour players (a number of whom already go to the PCA every year) and a lot of new players who’d never participated in an LAPT event before.

My initial reaction was that it sounded like a cool idea, and I liked the thought of mixing together players from all over. I’m a big fan of the LAPT for a variety of reasons, including the many great characters and interesting people who play those events, so I liked thinking about a lot of players from the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere getting to play a big event with that crowd.

I also thought it would be a big event, maybe even the biggest the LAPT had ever staged. But then I interviewed LAPT President David Carrion on Tuesday and he suggested that the turnout might be on the modest side, saying that he’d be happy if it drew 250 entries. I shared Carrion’s thoughts over on the PokerStars blog, then came in yesterday very curious to see just how the turnout would turnout.

It was clear during the first hour that David’s hope to reach 250 was going to be a cinch, as there were already close to 200 in seats from the start and late registration (and the reentry period) lasted through the end of the dinner break. As the afternoon wore on they cruised past 250, then 350, then 450, and we were all laughingly trying to come up with suitable adjectives (“staggering,” “stunning,” “jaw-dropping”) to describe the size of the field.

By the dinner break the number was way over 600, then following the final tallying during the early evening it was determined there were 736 total entries, with 532 unique players and 204 reentries. Just incredible. I had to evoke the water slide here called “The Surge” in my end-of-day recap as I was out of adjectives to use.

That meant a prize pool of close to $2 million, just shy of the LAPT’s biggest ever at Brazil last year. The scheduled first prize of $367,928 is almost a tour record as well, with only the $381,030 Dominik Nitsche won in Argentina back in Season 2 being higher.

The LAPT folks were all predictably elated, and I also was excited to see the event prove such a hit. I thought back to David’s references to the event overlapping with the PCA Main Event (which starts today) and other factors that might limit the field size, all of which had sounded reasonable. But it turned out the LAPT Bahamas event was positioned perfectly for many players arriving a little early this year.

Also had a chance to talk with last year’s PCA Main Event champion yesterday, the young Polish player Dominik Panka. Very friendly, well-spoken guy.

We went late last night, and thanks to the super-sized LAPT field today is guaranteed to be a long one, too, as they’ll try to whittle the 183 survivors down to something manageable before tomorrow.

Check back over at the PokerStars blog today for reports on the LAPT Bahamas event, the finish of the Super High Roller, and the start of the PCA Main Event, and also follow the live reporting at PokerNews for hands, counts, and more. Among other things it should be interesting to see if this LAPT Bahamas surge carries over into the Main.

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