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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

Complications and Cancellation of LAPT Nuevo Vallarta

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It started with the best of intentions and all of the planning that needs to go into the planning of a poker tournament. The PokerStars Latin American Poker Tour started its second season with a stop in San Jose, Costa Rica, where Ryan Fee claimed the title and $285,773 first prize. With that, the LAPT headed to a new destination, the Marival Resorts and Suites in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, but no one could have predicted that it would end with Mexican police raiding the tournament room and the event ultimately cancelled.

It began on December 5th with 242 players coming from around the world to compete in the $2,500 + $200 LAPT three-day event. Professional poker players like Greg Raymer, Victor Ramdin, Humberto and Alex Brenes, Andre Akkari, and Alexandre Gomes came to the resort for sun, fun, and poker. They were joined by pros David Plastik, Shirley Rosario, J.C. Alvarado, Max and Maria Stern, Josh Prager, Maria Mayrinck, Jon Van Fleet, and Costa Rica champion Ryan Fee, as well as popular musician Tito Fuentes, the lead guitarist for rock/hip-hop group Molotov from Mexico City.

The 242 players made for a prize pool of $586,850, and it was determined that the last 27 players standing would receive a portion of it, with the winner taking home $158,450. Ten levels were scheduled for the first day, and play got underway for the first major tournament series ever to be held in Mexico.

Two of Team PokerStars’ Brazilian players were among the first to be eliminated early in the day - Alexandre Gomes and Andre Akkari. Musician Fuentes followed them to the rail. Plastik, Prager, Rosario, and Maria Stern were also among the departed as the day progressed. But on the other end of the chip count list, Alex Brenes became one of the early leaders, that was until Ramdin took over.

And then the reporting stopped as the time neared 10:30pm, with the exception of word that the 89 players left in the tournament, along with all of the media and staff, were cleared from the tournament room. Later reports were sketchy, as reporters were a bit careful not to say too much until they were able to leave the resort altogether, but it was said that the local officials who oversaw the tournament all day made an abrupt decision to evacuate the premises and shut the event down. Rumors that the Mexican police assisted in the process abounded. As property seizure was feared, players grabbed their personal possessions and left immediately, and the media took their laptops out the door as well.

Play had been suspended, but organizers were hopeful that the situation would be ironed out by noon on December 6th. That time soon changed to 5pm local time, and it wasn’t until a bit later that reports surfaced that the LAPT was officially cancelled.

PokerStars and LAPT organizers were faced with a situation that included 89 players still in the tournament, though their chip counts could not be substantiated in any way without access to the tournament room. Many more players would have been eliminated prior to hitting the money in the tournament, and anything could have happened during that process had Day 2 played out. Decisions needed to be made with regard to the prize money; give the buy-ins back to every player who registered for the tournament, or reward those who made it to the final 89? Either way, some of the players were not going to be happy.

Finally, organizers came to a decision. It was announced that the prize pool would be split between the final 89 players, which included Raymer, Ramdin, and Mayrinck, among others. Each of them would receive $5,000, with the remaining $141,850 to be distributed in accordance with the most recent chip counts available before the shut-out occurred. In addition, PokerStars would give each of those 89 players $500 extra for their troubles.

The LAPT finally released a statement on its website, which read in full:

The Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT) confirms that it is cancelling the poker tournament in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, due to an indefinite suspension served on one of its local partners.

The LAPT states it has cooperated fully and in good faith with the requirements outlined by the Mexican government. The LAPT respects and abides by local regulations in each market.

LAPT’s partner in Mexico obtained a formal ruling from the Mexican Ministry of the Interior (SEGOB) allowing the event to take place. As the LAPT compiled [sic] with every rule stipulated by the Code of the Mexican Federal Law of Games and Raffles, the reasons for suspension are being reviewed by lawyers of all parties.

Late accounts from reporters on the scene indicated that many players who participated in the tournament, especially those not included in the final 89, were very unhappy with the decision to not reimburse all players. More detailed accounts of the situation will likely be written in the coming days, after everyone has safely left Mexico.

(Thanks to PokerNews and the PokerStars blog for live updates.)

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