Argentinean wins LAPT Chile

The Final Hand

Following a debacle in Nueva Vallarta, Mexico, late last year, the second season of the Latin American Poker Tour is once again in full swing.

Poker history was made on two fronts with the successful completion of LAPT Vina del Mar. Not only was the tournament the first major poker event held in the nation of Chile, but the final table was the first at a major event ever to be comprised solely of Latin Americans.

One American, PokerStars qualifier Carter Phillips, fell just short of the final table in 10th place, while Argentinean Fabian Ortiz battled his way to first place.

The seaside city of Vina del Mar played host to 216 players putting up $2,500 apiece for their shot at LAPT glory. After two days of play the field had been narrowed to the ultimo nueve, with 33-year-old former lawyer Damian Salas of Argentina holding the chip lead.

His $412,000 stack put him just ahead of his fellow countryman Fabian Ortiz, who held $347,000 thanks to sniffing out a bluff and delivering the KO to the aforementioned Mr. Phillips on the final-table bubble.

The action began tentatively, with the first orbit taking 40 minutes to complete. But before the first hour was complete the ice had been broken thanks to the departure of Uruguay's 77-year-old Jaime Ateneloff. Down to just $80,000 and holding 7-7, the man known as the godfather of Uruguayan poker reraised all-in over the $33,000 opening bet from incoming chip leader Salas.

The leader called with Q-J for the coin flip and stayed ahead on the 6 4 4 flop, but the Q on the turn spelled disaster for Ateneloff. The 5 on the river sent Ateneloff home with $10,746 for his ninth-place finish.

A little while later Salas would notch another knockout, this time claiming fellow Argentinian Eduardo Camia as his victim.

Salas had opened the pot for $42,000 and had an easy call with 9-9 when Camia shoved for $127,000; Camia's A 9 was in bad shape, and the board never came close to giving him any respite. He exited in eighth place with $13,095.

Despite having the home crowd behind him, the only Chilean to make the final table would be the next to go. Fabian Ortiz opened for $45,000 in early position and Jyries "Chiquitita" Saba made the call from the small blind. Saba quickly declared himself all-in on the K 4 5 flop and got an even quicker call from Ortiz; Saba's K J was far behind Ortiz's A A.

Led along by railbird Humberto Brenes, the crowd chanted for Chiquitita to catch a king or jack, but his fate was sealed when the board ran out 8 6, sending him out to a chorus of applause in seventh place.

That hand gave Ortiz the chip lead, but he quickly gave about $150,000 in chips back to Salas. Then came the dinner break and a tournament that had been progressing slowly slowed down even further.

At one point Brazil's Fabio Escobar went into the tank for an amazing eight minutes before finally folding a pair of fours before the flop. Finally, nearly 75 minutes after the last elimination, Escobar reached the end of his line; he moved all-in over a raise and a reraise holding A Q only to find himself up against the A K of Venezuela's Vincenzo Gianelli.

The 5 4 2 board gave Escobar hope for a chop, but the board ran out 8 9 and sent him home in sixth place with $23,571.

Short-stacked Hernan Villa, who had survived several short-stack all-ins already, was the next to go. The Colombian had posted $30,000 of his remaining $95,000 in the big blind, so he called all-in for less than Fabian Ortiz's opening bet without looking at his cards.

Ortiz turned up Q 7, and Villa revealed 6 2. Ortiz caught top pair on the flop and that was good enough to send Villa packing in fifth place with $28,809.

On the very next hand the two Argentineans who began the day atop the leaderboard would butt heads in a monster pot.

Before the flop, Ortiz opened the pot on the button for $30,000 and found himself reraised to $300,000 by Salas in the small blind. When Ortiz announced himself all-in, Salas called; Ortiz had his opponent covered by $18,000 in chips.

The T T for Ortiz was ahead only until the flop, when Salas managed to pair up holding A J on a board of K J 9; none of Ortiz's six outs came home, and suddenly he was the shortest remaining stack.

For all the skill in the game, it was poker's luck factor that left Ortiz a short stack. Fortunately for him, the luck factor brought him back into contention just as the blinds were getting big. With his last $15,000 in the middle on his next small blind, he flopped three of a kind and tripled up; then he flopped top pair and doubled his stack from less than two big blinds to just over three.

Within minutes he was back in third place, covering Brazilian Leandro Balotin by about $55,000 when Balotin moved all-in before the flop holding Q 5; Ortiz called with A 8 and flopped two pair to bust his opponent in fourth place.

Nearly an hour would pass before Salas, who entered the day with the chip lead, found himself eliminated in third place. The Argentinean made a misstep holding A 5, reraising all-in for $520,000 over Vincenzo Gianelli's standard opening bet of $124,000. Gianelli called and tabled A Q, making him a huge favorite to send Salas home.

The board offered plenty of hope for Salas by the turn when it read 9 3 6 4, but the 8 sent Salas home in third place, earning him $52,380.

Gianelli held a chip lead of better than 2-1 when heads-up play began, but Ortiz began to draw closer immediately when he flopped trip aces. Fifteen minutes later he would take a small lead of his own, nailing a gut-shot straight on the turn with K 7 against his opponent's A 6.

And then came the big bang everyone had been waiting for, with both players getting all-in before the flop. On a board of 7 Q 4 8 6, Gianelli's A T couldn't overcome Ortiz's A J, and the tournament was complete.

The final-table results were:

Place Name Country Prize
1st Fabian Ortiz Argentina $141,426
2nd Vincenzo Giannelli Venezuela $78,570
3rd Damian Salas Argentina $52,380
4th Leandro Balotin Brazil $39,285
5th Hernan "hvilla27" Villa Colombia $28,809
6th Fabio Escobar Brazil $23,571
7th Jyries Saba Chile $18,330
8th Eduardo Camia Argentina $13,095
9th Jaime Ateneloff Uruguay $10,476

With his win Ortiz, the 39-year-old former disco owner from Chaco, Argentina becomes the first player from Latin America to win an LAPT event. The tour had previously been dominated by players from the United States and Europe.

For a look at the past, present and future of the LAPT, be sure to check out our recent feature on the tour. There is also coverage from previous events in the Live Tournaments section.


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