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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

The Round Table – Sights and Sounds from the PokerStars LAPT in Costa Rica – The Beginning

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The thunder is booming and the rain pouring onto the lush greenery of the Costa Rican land. Poker players aren’t bothered, though, because they are busy trying to win themselves some cash.

Over 400 players gathered in Costa Rica this week for the 2nd event of the PokerStars Latin American Poker Tour. Over 150 online qualifiers, Team PokerStars members and invited celebrities gathered together in Latin America to play some cards.

The first night PokerStars hosted a rainforest themed party complete with booming music, body painted women depicted as wild animals, fog machines, an open bar and plenty of food. If PokerStars set out to appeal to the young online qualifiers, they sure hit the jackpot with this one.

The party was packed full of people, including baseball player and rather decent poker player Orel Hershiser, Daniel Negreanu, Isabelle Mercier, and native Costa Rican Humberto Brenes.

Towards the end of the party there was a super satellite into the $2500 Main Event. Online pro Alex ‘Kadabra’ Keating suggested I play so somehow I found myself seated at the table to the right of Victor Ramdin. After a few hours of play Victor ended up busting me in a coin flip situation. He was out a little while later about 10 short of the money.

Day 1a was all hustle and bustle as the players gathered into the tournament room at the Doubletree hotel. Fifty-three Costa Ricans participated in the event along with players from 35 different countries.

Early casualties included Daniel Negreanu, Victor Ramdin, and Orel Hershiser who chatted to me a little bit about his poker game prior to the start of the event.

“I have been playing tournaments at the Bellagio lately. I recently won an 80 person free roll for Bellagio invited guests. I won $25,000,” he said as he smiled. “I’ve also cashed in five of the seven Bellagio dailies I’ve played.” He also said he has a little different strategy in this event playing against the younger guys and internet guys.

On the next break I caught up with him and he told me how it was going and we talked about an interesting hand. “I haven’t really been able to apply my strategy because it is a tight table and when they have opened up I haven’t had a hand to play with. I did have one hand that I played that I have been thinking about. First position raised, there were a couple of callers and I called with J-9 spades in the cut off and the button called behind me. The flop was K-K with two spades. Everyone checked around and the ace of spades came on the turn, giving me a jack high flush. The first position raiser led out, I called and the button raised. First position called his raise and I finally decided to fold, putting the first position raiser on a hand like A-K. Well they both checked the river and first position showed 10-8 of spades and the button mucked, most likely a bluff. It was a tough hand, I have been discussing it with some people and most felt I had too much there.”

Orel was able to get some chips back when his J-J held up against an opponent’s 10-10, but was later busted and headed to the poker tables at the casino for some $5-$10 no limit hold‘em cash games.

Humberto Brenes was seated next to the 19 year old LAPT Rio winner, Julien Nuijten for a couple hours that afternoon till their table broke and both eventually busted. Humberto mentioned he was sure at least two Costa Ricans would make the final table, but unfortunately he wouldn’t be one of him.

Possibly Humberto’s son Jose Brenes could fulfill his father’s prediction. He found himself seated at the table with his uncle, Alex Brenes and they tangled in a big hand on day 1. On a 10-10-3 board Alex bet, Jose raised, Alex reraised and Jose just called. The turn was a Q and both players checked. The river was a 3 and Alex bet, Jose moved all in and Alex called showing trip tens, but the turn changed everything for him because Jose had pocket queens, and hit a 2 outer to knock him out. That may make for an uncomfortable family dinner!

By the end of the day only a staggering 85 players were left from the original 398 including Team PokerStars pro Andre Akkari, husband and wife duo Max and Maria Stern, and online pros Alec ‘Traheho’ Torelli, and Matt ‘ch0ppy’ Kay.

Check back in to find out how the Memorial Day weekend comes to a close down in rainy Costa Rica.

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