Jose Miguel Espinar tops at LAPT Uruguay

Now I have something to put my REALLY big flowers in!

The Latin American Poker Tour finished up the last stop on its first-season schedule this weekend in Punta del Este, Uruguay, with Spaniard Jose Miguel Espinar taking home the top prize after a memorable final table.

Espinar topped a field of 351 players, the second-largest on the LAPT so far, en route to claiming the Punta del Este title. Among those he busted on the way to the final table was Team Alex Brenes not long afterward when he was unfortunate enough to hold A-K against Brenes' A-J on an A-J-J-7-2 board. Brenes capitalized on that momentum on Level 22, getting Brazilian 2008 WSOP bracelet winner Alexandre Gomes all-in on a 6-4-3 flop with two spades; Gomes held the Q-7 of spades for a combination flush and gut-shot straight draw, while Brenes had A-5 for an open-ended straight draw and ace high. Gomes missed all his outs and finished in fourth place, taking home $68,100.

With the game three-handed it was only a matter of time before something big happened. After several large stacks of chips had been traded back and forth between the remaining players, Brenes and Gallo tangled in the pot that would prove to be Gallo's downfall.

Gallo raised to $60,000 before the flop and called a reraise from Espinar to $170,000 to see the board come down T-6-2. Both men checked and the turn came a jack; Espinar led out for $200,000 and quickly called for his entire stack when Gallo check-raised all-in for $600,000 more.

The Spaniard's A-J had Gallo's 8-6 crushed, and another jack on the river left Gallo on life support. He managed to double up twice in the next two hands, but then ran Q-9 into Brenes' A-A to finish in third place with $93,630.

Espinar held the chip lead when heads-up play commenced, with $2 million to Brenes' $1,500,000, but it would take a lot of work for him to emerge victorious. The match lasted five hours in total, and it wasn't until Level 27 that the LAPT season would come to a close.

Brenes held a slim lead of about $40,000 when he opened the pot pre-flop for $450,000 with the big blind worth $100,000. Espinar shoved over the top, and after some thought Brenes called with A-9; unfortunately for him, he was dominated by Espinar's A-T.

A nine on the flop made it appear that all was done, but a ten on the turn was enough to ship the pot Espinar's way and cripple Brenes. His own A-T would fall on the next hand to Espinar's K-3 of clubs, leaving him in the runner-up spot with $127,675.

For his part, the champion Espinar will take home $241,735 - not a bad take for a man whose poker career began way back in December 2007.

This may have only been the first season of the LAPT, but the success of its first three tournaments means a second year is already in the cards. The six-event schedule for Season 2 begins in November in San Jose, Costa Rica.

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