We mentioned yesterday how among all of the familiar sights and sounds here in the poker room at the Atlantic City Casino in Lima there was something a little different. Filling in for LAPT Tournament Director Mike Ward who is having to miss this stop is Thomas Lamatsch, someone more typically found walking the floors at events on the European Poker Tour where he’s often at the helm.
He only learned 10 days ago he’d be making his first ever visit to Peru, and he brings with him more than two decades’ worth of experience in poker. Some might have viewed making such a trip on short notice with trepidation, but not Lamatsch, a person who readily embraces anything new.
“Running an EPT event, it’s business,” he explained, referring to his usual work. “But to come here to a LAPT, to a new country… it presents a new challenge for me. Before you come, you have no idea who you’re going to meet or what’s going on. But this is the part of my life that I love — to fly around, to have new experiences.”
Players taking part in events on both the EPT and LAPT well know that while both tours share a lot of the same great qualities of being well managed and especially accommodating, each tour also has its own unique vibe — something Lamatsch likewise noticed right away.
“The EPT is super professional and serious, so the work flow is different,” he explained. “Here there’s a smaller family, and everyone — the dealers, staff, everyone — is a little closer to the players. They are an amazing staff and super friendly, which has been great for me.”
“If you come to an event as a tournament director like I am, you’re kind of alone,” he continued. “I have to adapt myself here… I don’t want to bring in my own ruling procedures. But they are an amazing staff and super friendly. It has not been difficult to come here at all. I really enjoyed yesterday. Everything ran smoothly and it was very nice — a great first day.”
Having a long, varied background in poker, Lamatsch has experienced a number of similar challenges during his career. One of the most memorable — and satisfying — came three years ago when he was asked to help judge a German television show designed to find the next “PokerStars.de ace.”
“It was a typical casting show, like Next Top Model” he explains. “Out of 100 people we selected 10 who then flew to Las Vegas and Los Angeles and took part in challenges and tournaments, with contestants being eliminated as we went.” Lamatsch served on the panel of judges along with poker pro Sandra Naujoks and the famous German actress Sophia Thomalla.
“It was on ProSieben, a well known channel in Germany. It was such a fun and new experience… kind of like coming here.”
Besides the novelty of being part on the show, the way it helped introduce poker to a mainstream audience was clearly satsifying to Lamatsch, who when asked about the future of poker instinctively spoke of the need to introduce a great game to a wider audience.
“Live poker is still growing,” he began. “The numbers we have in Europe keep going up, and the business is getting more professional. The next step should be to get closer to the mainstream — to present poker to people on the outside and show how serious the game is and how fun it can be. It’s not like we’re just playing cards in the back room. This is something we have to transmit to the mainstream.”
It’s clear Lamatsch isn’t just speaking out of professional interests — he genuinely sees poker as a game worth sharing. “Poker’s the most social game in the world… you come to an event and sure, people are trying to take your money, but they’re friendly and talk to you, too. It’s a great way to bring people together.”
Not unlike the way the game — and a veteran tournament director’s sense of adventure — brought Lamatsch all of the way across the Atlantic.
Photography from LAPT7 Peru by Carlos Monti. Check out the start-to-finish live streaming coverage (in both Spanish and Portuguese) at PokerStars.tv. Click here for live updates in Spanish, and here for live updates in Portuguese.
Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.