LAPT6 Chile: The smile

March 13, 2013

Humor me with a thought exercise, if you would. I’d like you to imagine a table of nine poker players who are playing in an $1,100 no-limit hold’em tournament. Got your image? It probably involves exclusively men, many wearing sunglasses and baseball caps, almost all stony-faced and with little to no chatter occurring between them.

Now imagine, please, Table 4 here at LAPT6 Chile. It’s in the lower left corner of the room, and in the 2-seat is a man with a neatly trimmed goatee and a tangle of bedhead. Today he’s wearing a Super Mario t-shirt that’s visible when he stands up in his chair to talk to friends and well-wishers. As he often does. The shirt is less visible when he’s seated, chatting with his tablemates. He does that a lot too.

I forgot to mention the other thing he’s wearing – the same infectious smile that he wears every day.

When this man saw me at the start of the day, he smiled and waved. When he posted his big blind, he smiled at the players in late position, almost daring them to take his chips. When he turned to utter a quiet comment to the player on his left, a man in a black LAPT t-shirt, he smiled a Cheshire smile. His neighbor did too. When he called out to Nick Yunis, one table away, “¿Vamos last-longer?” he grinned a devilish grin. Yunis, with a stack of 75,000 to this man’s 105,000, smiled softly and shook his head.

Everywhere this man goes, he smiles. And because smiles are infectious, people smile back at him. Such is the life of “Peluca”, the man with the neatly trimmed goatee, the wild bed-head and the ever-present smile. Such is the life of Leandro Csome.

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It took a while, but photographer Carlos Monti finally caught Csome without a smile on his face.

Csome first brought his unbridled joy to the Latin American poker scene in 2011. He made the final table of LAPT4 São Paulo, finishing in 5th place for $70,000. He went on to win two LAPT side events later that season and has become a fixture on the tour. A fun-loving, smiling LAPT fixture.

Sure, leading the tournament in Level 8 with 105,000 in chips, seven times the starting stack, would cause anyone to smile. The true measure of a man’s character, it’s said, is his behavior and his attitude when he’s losing. But Csome has lost more than his fair share on the LAPT. Despite those Season 4 side event wins, he’s never cashed in an LAPT Main Event other than that first São Paulo tournament.

He’s had his opportunities. It seems like Csome excels at racking up bundles of chips in the early stages of tournaments. He plays what some might call a wildly aggressive style, but players who have spent any time playing with him would hesitate to be that uncharitable. Csome may seem reckless at times, but he’s as good as any player in today’s field. He finished in 3rd place in the LAPT4 Player of the Year race, narrowly losing out to Pablo Gonzalez and Alex Manzano.

Yet through all those losses, I can only ever remember Csome smiling.

I knew Csome was here at the start of Day 1a, but some days in the life of a tournament reporter, certain tables get less attention than others. Tucked away in that back corner, I hadn’t noticed Csome accumulating a tournament-leading stack. I hadn’t paid him much attention at all until about 30 minutes ago, when he walked by me as I was using a pencil app on my iPad.

He stopped, wrote “100” on the iPad with his finger and said to me in English, “One hundred. Peluca.” Then he smiled that twinkling smile of his and walked off.

The poker world would be a better place with fewer stony-faced assassins in it and a few more smiling faces like Peluca.

Dave Behr is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

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