A little over one year ago, we were in Vina del Mar, Chile, sitting in a ballroom not unlike this one, as Fabian Ortiz became the first-ever Latin American champion on the LAPT. We had seen a Spaniard, a Hungarian, a Dutchman and two Americans claim victory, but until Ortiz made his now-legendary comeback from half a small blind to the title, the trophy had always been shipped overseas. Here in Punta del Este, the situation is shaping up quite differently, with seven players of South American lineage vying for the title, the only potential spoiler a likable Frenchman who lives in London.
24 players returned to the Mantra Hotel & Casino this afternoon, all of them guaranteed at least a $7,300 payday for their three days of work. Almost immediately, Norbert Ludger transformed from an average stack into a one-man wrecking ball. First, he snapped off Stevie Chidwick’s top two pair when he rivered a straight, then finished him off on a coinflip one hand later. He knocked out Daniel Kowalski in 20th place when his straight draw came in again against top pair, then cracked aces with king-jack to take the chip lead.
Oliver Rowe was trying to make back-to-back final tables in this event and came into play third in chips, but the young Canadian was eliminated in 18th place when he ran his pocket nines into pocket kings. Looking for his first LAPT final table was Team PokerStars Pro and shark enthusiast Humberto Brenes, but he succumbed in 16th place, after losing most of his chips with pocket jacks against pocket kings.
Daniela De Lima Zapiello emerged as a real contender on Day 2, taking the chip lead on several occasions. She regained it when she took out Pascual D’alessio in 14th place, her stack soaring past the 1 million mark. The petite Brazilian kept her foot on the gas for the rest of the day, squeeze-raising and three-betting her way to the final table, where she’ll start off in the middle of the pack with 560,000 in chips.
Day 2 chip leader Cesar Mostafa ended his run in 10th place, sending us to a nine-handed “not-so-final” table. It took us more than two hours to lose another player, everyone doing their best to avoid bubbling the final table. Jose “Nacho” Barbero knows that feeling well– he finished in ninth place at last season’s Grand Final in Mar del Plata, Argentina– but he survived to the final table today, the lone Team PokerStars Pro to do so.
Ernesto Panno also understands the pain of the bubble. He missed the money by one spot last year in Mar del Plata, and tonight he finished one place short of the final table, shipping the last of his chips in with A♥2♣ and earning a call from Barbero with A♠10♣. Panno could not catch a deuce and ended his run in ninth place.
Our final eight players will return at 1 pm tomorrow (EST+3). One of them will head home with an extra $279,330, a shiny silver trophy, and an LAPT title. Here’s how they stack up:
Norbert Ludger– Uruguay–1,596,000
Nicolas Cardyn– France– PokerStars Qualifier– 997,000
Marco A. Caicedo– Colombia– 666,000
Ernesto Panno–Argentina– 520,000
Daniela de Lima Zapiello–Brazil– PokerStars Qualifier– 519,000
Andres Korn– Argentina– 512,000
Bernardo da Silveira Dias– Brazil– PokerStars Qualifier– 414,000
Roman Suarez — Argentina– 412,000
Jose ‘Nacho’ Barbero– Argentina– PokerStars Team Pro– 404,000
Full chip counts for the final table players can also be found on the LAPT Punta del Este chip count page. Everyone is still chasing Norbert Ludger, who will come into play as the chip leader.
If your Spanish or Portuguese is as terrible as ours, check out the PokerStars Spanish Blog or the PokerStars Brazilian Blog. And don’t forget about or video team who has been hard at work getting the inside scoop. Their video blogs can be found on PokerStars.tv.
For a look back at our coverage today, click any of the links below.