The day began with eight runners hoping to first unseat Carter Gill from his commanding chip lead and then go onto LAPT glory at the Season 6 Grand Final.
Walid Mubarak was first out in eighth, the gregarious Peruvian lightened the mood of every table he sat at this tournament and took home $25,840.
Next Carter Gill extended his chip lead with a double-dip. First he bounced the last Brazilian standing, skilled pro Joao “Bauer” NetoCesarm who cashed $33,780 in seventh. Gill followed that KO up with the last Uruguayan, Cesar Sanguinetti, who took home $45,100 in sixth.
From there it was Carter and the Argentinians.
But this was no five-man troupe or gang-up affair. It was everyone for themselves and Andre Korn bad-beat Juan Perez Solari’s pocket queens when his pocket tens flopped top set just to prove it. The first Argentinian out would see himself $59,840 wealthier as a result, finishing fifth.
Ivan Raich had hung around in the back of the pack for a long time, but took four-handed play as his cue to move. In a crucial inflection point, he called off the vast majority of his stack with two eights, last man of three facing the squeeze of Andre Korn. He sweated out a huge flip with Korn’s suited ace-king and solidified his hopes of winning the tournament. Korn was congratulated by all and stuck around to sweat the high-rollers, content with $79,100 and fourth place.
So ran Gill’s commentary, which had been in perpetual motion from Day 1.
Ariel Mantel had been playing for the jugular since he rose to the top of the standings on Day 3 and he didn’t shy from putting his stack at risk during three-handed play. But what do you know, he ran into a monster in blind versus blind with Carter Gill. The grizzled competitor, who refused to open deal talks with borderline obstinacy, took home the first six-figure payout, $106,300 for third.
It would be hard to understate the devastation wrought by the juggernaut that was Carter Gill, from when he took the chip lead late into Day 2 until heads-up play. Ace-rag versus pocket sevens? You got it. Need to flop trips? Sure thing! It is all so easy when one is running hot.
Call it confirmation bias but at his zenith Gill’s gift for winning flips was permeating the ether.
But Ivan Raich still stood between Gill and the title. The American had unfinished business on the LAPT, having reached the final table at the last stop in Panama, before it all slipped away.
And that is precisely what appeared to be in store from the outset of heads-up.
Raich won three preflop confrontations in a row, each time gaining on his previous high water mark, each time between periods of being chipped down by the more aggressive Gill.
And each time with the worst of it. Gill had an ace in his hand all three times and was done in each time by the Argentinian’s disconnected live cards. Once a ten to one chip lead was reduced to two to one. At this point Gill made an ICM chop with Raich, leaving no small sum, 24,000, to play for.
And he was probably glad he did. The pummeling continued until Gill fell to 2,300,000 when Raich hero-called him in a four-bet pot, on a three-flush, four-straight board with fourth pair (top kicker though, to be fair).
The test of a champion, some say, is how they handle adversity. After living on easy street for two days, Gill had a short stack, rising blinds, and no momentum. So he got to work. Chipping up, chopping down. He had been winning all the small pots since the final table, controlling his opponents postflop. So it was without a preflop all-in, or any all-in for that matter, that he climbed back to a 2:1 advantage.
With the end of Level 30 looming Gill raised on the button and Raich called.
The flop came J♣ 9♠ 2♠ and innocuity ensued, both players checking.
The turn was the 10♣, Raich bet 255,000 and Gill called.
A♣ Cue fireworks.
Raich bet out with confidence, a long string of white chips across the felt, 975,000 when it was tallied by the dealer.
Gill’s shoved and Raich agonized.
The Argentinian shook his head in evenly spaced bouts every ten seconds. This went on for minutes. Sunglasses removed, hoodie denuded, Raich was terribly unhappy. He asked the tournament staff to confirm the next blind level, which was due up at the conclusion of his tank. Blinds were going to 80,000-160,000 and he would have less than fifteen of the big variety, should he fold.
An often subdued rail was now near bursting, clamouring to see the resolution of this exercise in tension construction.
Finally Raich plunked a stack across the line, tabling a straight, 7♥ 8♣. It would be no good, Gill had every out on the turn, and had riverred the second nuts with Q♣ 6♣.
Raich would have to be content with his end of the deal, a fairytale run finishing one short. He was despondent and inconsolable by his friends, but for his runner-up finish he received $172,568.
For the winner there would be no fist pump, no bravado, just an embrace with a distraught Raich, and a cross-rail kiss from his girlfriend. Carter Gill had made back to back final tables on the LAPT and punctuated the feat by taking down the Grand Final for $218,692!
“I’m just happy,” Gill said. “Happy.”
“I had a good feeling and towards the end I started to have a bad feeling.”
The man who began a sojourn in Colombia and with his girlfriend, has traveled to Uruguay through much of South America now finds himself six-figures richer, the world his oyster.
“If I can’t get a visa in time to go to Brazil, I’ll go to Iguazu,” Gill said, referencing the spectacular waterfalls to the north that straddle Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.
“I don’t know how much celebrating you can do at a waterfall, but we’ll find out!”
It has been our undue pleasure to bring you full coverage from the Mantra Resort, Spa and Casino in the jewel of South America that is Punta del Este, Uruguay. But the time has come for us to bid you hasta leugo, we have a few days on the beach to enjoy!
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