The action in the early stages of LAPT San Jose was, as they like to say, fast and furious, with 28 eliminations in the first five levels of play.
Early casualties included Abraham Rosenkrantz, Andres Herrada, Chase Chenoweth and Jose Contreras.
Rosenkrantz's elimination was especially noteworthy as he entered the day as one of the overnight chip leaders and seemed a lock to make the money. Rosenkrantz ended up shoving his pocket kings into Brent Sheirbon's pocket aces and that was it for Rosenkrantz, while it was just the beginning for Sheirbon.
Costa Rican Max Stern was almost eliminated in the first few levels but luckily had his wife Maria, who was still in the tournament, to cheer on. Maria would make the family proud too, but we'll get into that later.
After just two hours of play the money bubble burst, with Guillaume Noel having the unfortunate distinction of being the tournament's bubble boy.
The money bubble popping certainly didn't keep the remaining 24 players from getting their chips all-in when they felt like it.
Alfredo Delgado, Jason Frazee, Michael DeGilio, Jon Van Fleet and Tark Abboud were several of the players to be eliminated soon after the money bubble burst.
As you've probably noticed, big-name poker players were distinctly lacking in this tournament, and after Team Victor Ramdin and Alexandre Gomes were all eliminated on Day 1, many were left wondering who the most well-known remaining player was.
That would probably have been online dominator Carter Gill, whom you might know better as devinr12.
Carter Gill was one of the most charismatic players to watch in the tournament as he bet, folded and talked his way up the payout sheet. It was hard not to root for the guy as his mom cheered him on from the rail (he flew her out to see Costa Rica).
After the money bubble burst Gill was picking up chips at a rapid pace and seemed destined for a spot at the final table.
Unfortunately the poker gods had different ideas, as Gill got all-in with A-K versus Joel Micka's A-K and Andrew Chen's Q-Q. The ladies held up (good ladies always do) and Chen scooped the pot, eliminating Gill in the process.
By the time the fifth level of the day was completed we were down to 10 players and tournament organizers announced the dinner break would be early this day. Players headed off to grab some grub.
The action slowed immensely after players got back from dinner. Although the 10th player (Earl Burklund) was eliminated in the first 15 minutes, it would take more than two hours to find the next elimination.
Day 1 chip leader Rob Woodcock would be the player to just barely miss out on the final table. Woodcock got all-in with A-K and couldn't hit against Andrew Chen's JJ.
The final eight are a unique assortment of players with enough talent to go around.
Odds-makers would likely give the edge to chip leader Ryan Fee, who certainly raised a few eyebrows on his journey to the final table. Fee, who is from the U.S., was one of the most vocal players of the day, and won a $200,000+ pot off Jesus Bertoli with a massive bluff.
A couple more U.S. players round out the top three, with Joel Micka and Andrew Chen both in the $300,000 chip area. They both seem skilled enough to win tomorrow if they get some cards.
Perhaps the most noteworthy player, however, is Costa Rica's own Maria Stern. Stern is the first woman to make the final table of an LAPT event, and it's hard not to be impressed with her, as she played fearlessly against some of the toughest players in the tournament.
Although the final table of LAPT San Jose certainly doesn't have the star power of some recent final tables (the EPT London High Roller event springs to mind), there are certainly some interesting storylines as we head into the final tomorrow.
Be sure to tune in bright and early at 12 p.m. Central American time to see how this one plays out.
Here are the final-table chip counts:
|1. Ryan Fee||$481,000|
|2. Joel Alexander Micka||$336,500|
|3. Andrew Alan Chen||$313,000|
|4. Jesus Bertoli||$265,000|
|5. Claus Rasmussen||$254,000|
|6. Brent Sheirbon||$186,500|
|7. Maria Stern||$151,000|
|8. Jeff Patronack||$122,000|