Friday, January 08, 2016

Travel Report: 2016 PCA, Day 2: El Nueve for the LAPT

On Thursday I had the luxury of working only part of the day, which still translated to about a nine-hour shift as I went in during the late morning and didn’t leave until around eight. My focus was on the start of the Latin American Poker Tour Bahamas Main Event, a three-day, $2,200 buy-in tournament that allowed reentries up until after the dinner break.

Was once again kind of flummoxed by the turnout for the LAPT Bahamas Main Event, although not to the degree I was a year ago.

Last year on the day before the event began I interviewed then-LAPT President David Carrion about the upcoming season, also asking him for his thoughts regarding the possible turnout for the event a year ago. He said to me he hoped the event (which had a $3,000 buy-in) would draw 250 entries, referring to the fact that it had only been announced a few weeks before and so a lot of players wouldn’t necessarily be aware of it happening right at the very start of the festival.

As the day progressed, it became obvious 250 was an especially conservative goal, and by the time they’d closed registration there were an incredible 736 entries. I almost felt like David had been sandbagging, although I think he likewise was very surprised.

This year Day 1 went similarly, with just about 200 in their seats at the start, then people continuing to arrive in droves all afternoon with many reentering as well. By the end there were 851 entries, exceeding last year’s total by a wide margin.

The lower buy-in helped, and actually means the prize pool isn’t quite what they had last year. It somewhat conforms to the new format the LAPT will be adopting in Season 9 where the Main Event buy-ins are going to be reduced a bit to $1,500. Still, it’s again a nice kickoff to the tour’s season, and again introduced a lot of players to a sorta-kinda “LAPT experience” here in the middle of the Caribbean.

Tons of top pros are in the field, suggesting another tough final table will be coming on Saturday when that trophy pictured above will be awarded (pic courtesy Carlos Monti of the PokerStars blog). Last year the American Josh Kay won the sucker, but he had to get through a final table that included Martin Finger (who finished second), Jose Carlos Garcia (fourth), Taylor Paur (fifth), Dimitar Danchez (sixth), and Mustapha Kanit (eighth). Some are remembering it as the most impressive final table of the PCA a year ago, although I think the FTs produced by the high roller events might have been even tougher.

There are a huge variety of events on the PCA schedule, with lots of lower buy-in ones (some as low as $120 or $300) that surely attract a lot of amateurs and recreational players. But generally speaking -- at least among the events with buy-ins of, say, $2,200 and above -- the quality of skill among the players here is especially high, perhaps the highest (on average) of any tournament series.

There were 220 players making it through to today’s Day 2 of the LAPT Bahamas, where I’ll be again for another one of those nine-hour “partial” shifts. Check the the PokerStars blog to find out how things go in that one as well as the in the $100K Super High Roller and Day 1a of the PCA Main Event.

Photo: courtesy Carlos Monti/PokerStars blog.

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