LAPT5 Punta del Este: Have I got a hand for you

May 24, 2012

lapt-promo.gifEvery poker tournament is marked by a number of big hands that ultimately go a long way toward determining the winner. Indeed, for just about every player in a given event, there is often a single, pivotal hand that more than any other determines his or her ultimate fortune. And for all but one, a hand will come that ultimately sinks them, leaving them shy of the ultimate goal.

Speaking of big hands and sinking, one of the attractions not to be missed on any visit to Punta del Este is the mind-bending Monumento al Ahogado, a.k.a. the Monument to the Drowned, located at Brava Beach, not too far from the Mantra Resort Spa and Casino where this week’s event is taking place.

Around here those referring to the sculpture usually don’t bother with the full name, simply referring to it instead as “La Mano” or “The Hand.” As in “Did you see the Hand?”

It’s a question you hear a lot around poker tourneys, although only here in Punta del Este might the speaker be referring not to poker, but to a hand suddenly poking up through the sand to send passersby into a minor wonder-induced trance.

An artist from Chile, Mario Irarrázabal, created the uncanny work thirty years ago as part of a competition of sculptors. The four fingers and thumb are made of made of concrete, plastic, and metal mesh, with steel reinforcements. Irarrázabal’s idea was to create a kind of warning to swimmers, and indeed there is something kind of haunting about the fingers signaling a drowner’s final, desperate message.

But really, you can’t help but smile at “The Hand.” Check out our buddy Reinaldo Venegas who mans PokerStars’ Latin American blog pictured here with the hand from a previous Punta trip.


Last August when Brad Willis and I made the trip to Punta during Season 4, Reinaldo took us to see the hand where more photos were taken. My witty colleague sent out a tweet soon afterwards of one picture showing him standing amid the fingers, adding the note: “Sorry, I can’t talk. I’m in a hand.”

There haven’t been too many big hands thus far during the early going here, although Humberto Brenes did find himself nearly sunk in a hand near the end of the first level in which a flop brought him a set kings and his opponent bottom two pair, but running hearts on the turn and river gave Brenes’ opponent a flush to help him claim nearly all of the Costa Rican’s stack.

But a couple of levels later, Brenes is still here, nursing a short stack that sits before him like a few tiny, colorful fingers standing up from the table’s green surface.


A warning to others, you might say.


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