Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Travel Report: LAPT8 Chile, Day 4: Vamoooo!

“Four left, and all three stories still in play.”

So I said to Sergio, the PokerStars Brazilian blogger, yesterday afternoon as the tournament was down to just four players.

The last day of the Latin American Poker Tour Chile Main Event this year featured one of the more exciting final tables to follow that I can remember from the LAPT. Probably only the very first LAPT Main Event I helped cover -- the one in Lima back in Season 4 in which Nacho Barbero won his second title back-to-back -- rivaled it in terms of the at-the-table drama.

There were parallels between the finishes of both events, as this one also ended up featuring an almost-back-to-back champion, with Oscar Alache of Chile winning after having just won the LAPT Peru Grand Final back in October. There was the LAPT Bahamas event in between, which technically makes Alache not a back-to-back champ. He becomes only the third player ever to accomplish winning two LAPTs so far, joining Barbero and Fabian Ortiz.

Another similarity was the presence of Barbero himself at this final table. He ended up finishing fourth, although did earn a six-figure payday thanks to a four-handed deal. The stacks were on the short side near the end and so a decent amount of luck was involved with how things played out, at least until heads-up. Still, it was something to see Barbero get that far yet again at this, his seventh LAPT Main Event final table (a record).

What helped make the final table even more exciting, though, was Renata Teixeira almost becoming the first woman to win an LAPT Main Event. She led, in fact, at the time of the four-handed deal, and after knocking out Javier Venegas in third had a slight lead to start heads-up versus Alache. She also (in my opinion) gave Alache a tougher time than did his heads-up opponent back in Lima last fall, Daniel Campodonico, but after a half-hour Alache was able to whittle away enough at her stack to take the lead, then he’d win an all-in with pocket tens versus her A-Q-suited.

I said yesterday how I expected there might be a fun rail for this one thanks to Teixeira being there as not only the last woman in the tournament but the last Brazilian, too. And I wasn’t disappointed as there were a few dozen loud supporters, many donning purple wigs to match Teixeira’s hair (that’s a picture of some of them above, taken by the great Carlos Monti). They even had a fight song of sorts they’d sing urging her on, in between the usual shouts of “Vamoooo!”

Probably the most dramatic moment happened at seven-handed when Teixeira (who started the table eighth of eight in chips) ended up all in on the turn with trip aces versus Rodrigo Quezada’s flopped flush, then rivered a full house to survive and cripple Quezada (who soon went out in seventh). The place was absolutely rocking after that fifth-street card.

Everything wrapped up by early evening, then I had a chance to go out to dinner with Sergio and a huge group of Brazilian players and media, including Teixeira. That, too, was a fun time, which I think I’ll save to write about tomorrow after getting home.

Meanwhile, I’ve only got a short while here to pack and get out of my room, with my flight not being until later tonight. Will get to explore Viña del Mar a little today, and it looks to be a sunny day for it, too. Eager to get home, but don’t mind the chance to relax a little first after that wild finish.

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