The second season of the PokerStars Latin American Poker Tour kicked off in style with its first stop in San Jose, Costa Rica on November 3rd. The Ramada Plaza’s Herradura Conference Centre was the local setting for the three-day poker tournament that would launch a season highlighted by exciting poker events in exotic Latin American cities.
With a $3,500 + $200 buy-in, higher than during the first season, attendance for the LAPT San Jose event saw a bit of a decrease from last year’s attendance but made up for it in a lucrative prize pool and notable player-laden field. A total of 219 players turned out for the PokerStars-sponsored event, and well-known faces in the crowd included Humberto and Alex Brenes, Victor Ramdin, Eddy Sabat, Maria Mayrinck, Jon Van Fleet, Carter Gill, Shirley Rosario, David Plastik, Andre Akkari, Max and Maria Stern, and 2007 champion Valdemar Kwaysser.
Set as a three-day event, play was action-packed on the first day. Players like Sabat, Akkari, Mayrinck, and Plastik were all casualties of Day 1, along with both Brenes brothers, Rosario, Ramdin, and Rosario. When all was said and done, play stopped for the day with only 38 players remaining.
Husband and wife Stern were left in the field, with wife Maria tenth in chips. Leading the pack was Rob Woodcock with 181,300 in chips, followed by Ryan Fee, Brent Sheirbon, and Abraham Rosenkrantz all above the 100K chip mark.
Day 2 began with the intention of thinning the field to the final eight players, and that is what they did. Max Stern was one of the eliminations early in the day, courtesy of Carter Gill. And as more players left the tournament, the bubble neared. Guillaume Noel got involved at that time for all of his chips with and was called by Ryan Fee, who had . The board belonged to Fee all the way with , and Noel was eliminated as the bubble player in 25th place.
Action was fast at the last three tables, with Jon Van Fleet one of the first money finishers of the tournament in 17th place. And as the players’ anxiety level increased with each elimination, it was Earl Burklund’s tenth place finish that sent the last nine players into the most exciting time of the day.
One more player had to go, and finally that was determined during a hand between Robert Woodcock and Andrew Chen. Woodcock had lost that Day 1 chip lead throughout the day and pushed all-in at this juncture of the tournament with . Chen called with pocket jacks, and the board brought - nothing to help the short stack. Woodcock was forced to accept a ninth place finish, which came with a $17,098 payday.
After two days of play, the final table was set with Ryan Fee as the chip leader. All of the players and their chip counts were as follows:
Ryan Fee 481,000
Joel Micka 336,500
Andrew Chen 313,000
Jesus Bertoli 265,000
Claus Rasmussen 254,000
Brent Sheirbon 186,500
Maria Stern 151,000
Jeffrey Petronack 122,000
Play resumed on Day 3 amidst Level 18, and the final table action began rather slowly. Flops were hard to come by, but when the short stack finally decided to make a move, the excitement set in. Jeffrey Petronack was able to double through Ryan Fee with a rivered ace to go with his A-K, and that hand beat the pocket queens of Fee. Petronack continued to climb the leader board as play continued.
Brent Sheirbon had lost ground during the beginning of play but finally won a significant pot to stay in the game and relegate Jesus Bertoli to short-stack status. But it was another player who would be the first to go.
Maria Stern pushed all-in more than once without action, but she finally got a caller in Petronack. Stern showed , and Petronack showed pocket queens. The dealer turned over , and it was all over for the last woman standing. Stern took eighth place in the LAPT San Jose and the $24,425 that went with it.
The eliminations then sped up. Claus Rasmussen moved all-in with preflop for his last 115K, only to be called by Joel Micka and his pocket kings. The board started to help Rasmussen but didn’t finish the job when it showed . Rasmussen was ousted in seventh place with a $34,195 prize.
Next up was Petronack. After a roller-coaster of a day, he took his last 297K into battle preflop with . Fee called with , and Petronack was feeling positive about a chop. However, the board did not cooperate and couldn’t have looked prettier to Fee when it came . The royal flush was more than enough to send Petronack packing in sixth place with an extra $43,960 for the effort.
Fee seemed to be getting involved with everyone, and he did just that with Chen. Chen ended up with all of his 325K in the pot preflop with pocket queens against the pocket eights of Fee. But Fee was on a roll, and he caught some outs on the flop and got there on the turn when the board came . Chen was eliminated in fifth place, which was worth $61,063 and a pat on the back.
Four players were left, and Fee was the monster chip leader with over 1.2 million, more than twice that of Micka in the second spot with 575K. Sheirbon was short with 250K, but Bertoli was ultra-short with only 85K.
Bertoli decided to move it all-in with , and Fee called with . Without much shock from the other players or the crowd, the dealer gave them just what Fee needed - . Bertoli was out in fourth place with $80,603 for trying to beat Fee in a pot.
Sheirbon wasn’t able to do much with his short stack either, so he pushed it preflop with . This time, it was Micka who made the call and showed pocket deuces. The race was on, but the board allowed Micka to win that sprint. Sheirbon was gone in third place, with a trip scheduled to the cashier cage for $109,913.
Fee took his previous chip lead to the final table with him, and it was going to be Micka’s mission to get past it, not to mention the luck, of Fee. Micka was careful, as was Fee, about getting involved in a pot that got out of control, so play was measured for awhile.
Without too much time elapsed, however, the two tangled. Micka began with a small raise to 40K, and Fee reraised to 105K. Micka came over with a raise to 300K, which prompted an all-in move from Fee and an all-in call from Micka. Fee showed , and Micka turned over pocket fours. The board came , and the miracle card on the river was not too much of a shocker. Joel Micka was eliminated in second place, giving him $148,993 for the impressive finish.
Ryan Fee claimed victory in the LAPT San Jose tournament, which granted him the title of champion and the substantial first-place prize of $285,773.
With that, the San Jose tour stop was a wrap. And without further ado, the next stop on the LAPT Season 2 schedule was announced. The PokerStars tournament series was set to show up next in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico on December 5th for a three-day event with a $2,700 buy-in. Players like Greg Raymer, Humberto Brenes, Andre Akkari, and Alexandre Gomes have already added the stop to their tournament schedules.
Upon the announcement, players almost immediately were given opportunities to win their seats to the beach city on PokerStars. Qualifiers are still running for as little as $2.20, and winners will receive generous prize packages that will take them to Nuevo Vallarta and enter them in a tournament where hundreds of thousands of dollars will be at stake.
With an entire second season of LAPT tournaments to be played, it only makes sense to open up that PokerStars account now. And by doing it here with the bonus code “First2008” and marketing code “POKERWORKS,” players will receive $25 free and a 100% bonus for any deposits up to $50.
(Thanks to PokerNews and the PokerStars blog for live updates and chip counts.)