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Rounders flock to LAPT finale
After a pause this summer for the World Series of Poker to run its course, the Latin American Poker Tour is set today to resume - and complete - its inaugural season in the nation of Uruguay.
The gorgeous seaside resort town of Punta del Este, located on Uruguay's Atlantic coast, plays host to the third and final stop on the LAPT's first-season schedule from Aug. 7-9. As did the two previous LAPT events held earlier this year, the No-Limit Texas Hold'em tournament has a buy-in of $2,500+$200.
The LAPT's Web site says the Punta del Este event, like the previous two, can accommodate 300 players. However, both of those tournaments topped the 300 mark; if there's any way at all to make space for more players, expect to see a healthy field for the final LAPT event of the season.
The LAPT is sponsored by PokerStars, which will be sending members of Team PokerStars Pro to play in the event. Among the players who have confirmed they will play in Uruguay are Barry Greenstein, Chad Brown, Vanessa Rousso, 2004 WSOP Main Event champion Greg Raymer, Costa Rica's two-time WSOP bracelet winner Humberto Brenes, and Brazilians Andre Akkari and Alexander Gomes.
In addition to the Team PokerStars Pro lineup, over 160 qualifiers who won their seats through satellites at PokerStars will be competing at Punta del Este.
The LAPT may only be in its first season, but that doesn't mean there hasn't been a hearty response to its presence in Latin America. Poker's popularity there is thriving if the first two tournaments of the season are any indication.
Rio de Janeiro, the first stop back in early May of this year, saw 315 players turn up for the three-day event. Four of the nine final tablists hailed from Latin America, with eight countries total from around the world represented at the table. In the end it was former Magic: The Gathering champion Julien Nuitjen of the Netherlands who overcame American Vitaly Kovyazin to take down the first-ever LAPT crown.
San Jose, the tour's second stop, fielded 398 players over three days at the end of May just before the WSOP began. Where the Rio final table had been a highly international affair, San Jose saw its last nine dominated by Americans; six of the finalists came from the United States. The highest finisher among them was Max Steinberg, who came in in second place, behind eventual champion Valdemar Kwaysser of Hungary.
Over the course of those two tournaments, 712 players from 38 countries around the world have played on the LAPT, including members of Team PokerStars Pro and several poker-playing celebrities. Among them are former Major League Baseball pitchers Orel Hershiser and David Wells, The Simpsons producer Sam Simon, and talk show host and poker enthusiast Montel Williams. Sixty-four of those players have been awarded a total $1,750,150 in prize money, including champions Nuitjen ($222,490) and Kwaysser ($274,103).
PokerListings is on hand in Punta del Este to bring poker fans the best updates, photos, interviews and more live from the LAPT. To check it out, head to the Live Tournaments section.