While Argentinians and Brazilians are a large portion of the field, the Uruguayan home team is making a strong showing.
It’s not the Uruguayans’ fault they’re outnumbered.
With just 3.4 million inhabitants, Uruguay’s population is one of the smallest of the non-island nations in the Americas.
By contrast, Brazil has the second-largest population in the Americas with approximately 200 million inhabitants while Argentina comes in at fifth with about 43 million people.
While tiny Uruguay is flanked by these giants, they’ve always been able to hold their own.
Uruguay defeated Argentina in the first-ever FIFA World Cup Final and then won their second World Cup after they defeated Brazil in Rio back in 1950.
The little country is known to produce its fair number of talented athletes and poker is no different.
One of the rising Uruguayan stars is Francisco “Tomatee” Benitez.
Under the moniker “Tomatee,” Benitez has made SCOOP, TCOOP and WCOOP final tables this year.
Tomatee’s most recent final table, WCOOP 25: $10,300 NLHE 8-Max High Roller, gave the Uruguayan his largest online score to date.
Tomatee finished 5th in that event and won $178,500.
Tomatee is back at it though and was playing the $215 4-max event on his phone while he was playing the main event here.
Benitez came in later in the day but busted shortly after dinner.
With about 5,000 in the pot on a 3♣6♦2♣5♠ board, Benitez bet 3,100 and Julio Belluscio called.
A 10♥ came on the river and Benitez bet 7,000. Belluscio quickly raised to 20,000, enough to put Benitez all-in.
Benitez thought, folded on his phone and then thought some more. Benitez made a few more moves online as he thought what to do about Belluscio’s bet.
Four-handed online poker is pretty fast.
Eventually, Benitez through in the rest of his physical chips to call.
Belluscio showed 4♥3♥ for the turned straight while Benitez showed A♦10♣ for top pair.
With late registration over, Benitez’s shot at winning an LAPT title on his home turf was gone.
Luckily for him though, home is a quick car ride away in Montevideo.
Benitez says he doesn’t plan on playing any more live events this week and will focus on the WCOOP instead.
Tomatee is even considering playing the $51,000 8-Max Super High Roller tomorrow.
He’ll leave the task of winning the LAPT trophy to his countrymen.
Alexander Villegas is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.