It seemed as if the second season of the PokerStars.com Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT) only just began, but already the tour found itself at its Season 2 Grand Final in Argentina. The beach city of Mar del Plata was the place, and poker was the reason they all came, as the $5,200 LAPT Grand Final was set to start on April 16 at the Casino Central.
And it was an extraordinary turnout. The LAPT has grown in popularity over its two seasons, and players fly from all over the world to participate in the tournaments that are becoming more lucrative and prestigious with each tour stop. The Argentina Grand Final drew 291 players for the highest buy-in event of the season, making for a $1,411,350 prize pool and securing a prize of $387,030 for the ultimate winner.
The LAPT Mar del Plata tournament was the first of Season 2 to host two first days, allowing ample room in the tournament room for all players to begin their runs at the season-ending title. Day 1A began with 140 players, including a number of well-known players like tennis star Boris Becker, Brazilian models Angelita Feijo and Vanessa Machado, Argentine actress Geraldine Neumann, and 2003 WSOP champion Chris Moneymaker. Also in the field were Team PokerStars Pro Maria Mayrinck, LAPT Chile winner Fabian Ortiz, and Jamie Ateneloff.
When the first day came to a close, only 27 players remained, with Ateneloff from Uruguay in the chip lead with 108,300 chips. Eduardo Santi and Jorge Landazuri de Los Rios tied for the second spot with 96,300 each, and Damian Salas and Pablo Damian Tinca rounded out the top five.
Day 1B brought the other 151 players to the tables, which created the aforementioned field of 291 players and corresponding $1,411,350 prize pool. More big names were in the crowd on the second starting day of the tournament, including 2005 WSOP champion Joe Hachem, Team PokerStars Pros Andre Akkari, Alex Gomes, Veronica Dabul, Leo Fernandez, Dennis Phillips, and J.C. Alvarado, Max and Maria Stern, and several members of the Brenes family - Humberto, Alex, and Roberto.
When play stopped for the day, only 35 were left, and Robin Chesne was the chip leader with a grand total of 146,900 chips. Jason Skeans held the second spot with 123,400, while Luis Jaikel, Marcelo Giorgetta, and Dominik Nitsche took the rest of the top spots on the leaderboard.
A total of 62 players joined together on Day 2 of the tournament, with several top pros falling early in the afternoon, one of whom was Alex Brenes. As the day progressed at a reasonable rate of speed, the bubble player was finally discovered as Eduardo Camia pushed all-in with only 4,500 chips with . Jose Barbero was there with only and the call, but the board immediately helped Barbero with . Camia became the tournament’s bubble player, leaving in 28th place with no money but some extra time to see the sights of Mar del Plata.
That left it open for Marcelo Giorgetta to take the first money spot, which was worth $14,120 for the 27th place finish. As the eliminations continued, notable 77-year old Jamie Ateneloff left in 16th place, at which point the remaining players took a dinner break.
When they returned, the bustouts began with Damian Salas taking 15th, Eduardo Santi leaving in 14th place, Alejandro Rodriguez in 13th, Hugo Spangerberg in 12th, and Mark Ioli going from chip leader during Day 2 to the 11th place finisher.
Finally, with one player left to go before the day was done, Jason Skeans made a bold all-in move from the small blind, but Vincenzo Giannelli called all-in for his tournament life from the big blind with pocket kings. Skeans turned over , and two watched the board as the flop came . It was the on the turn that gave Skeans the better pair, and when no king hit on the river, Giannelli was gone in tenth place with $28,200.
That left the final table ready for the following day with chip counts as follows:
Dominik Nitsche 817,000
Sergio Farias 474,000
Jorge Landazuri 428,000
Jason Skeans 338,000
Leo Fernandez 329,000
Jose Barbero 181,000
Rodolfo Awad 170,000
Derek Lerner 151,000
Alfons Fenijn 65,000
When players returned on April 19 to compete for the title, Nitsche was the most conspicuous one at the table, as the only high school student in the field at 18 years of age. Landazuri was only 19-years old as well and a medical school student, so the youth contingent was well-represented. Fernandez was representing Argentina as the Team PokerStars Pro and most recently acquired member of said team, but Farias and Barbero were also looking to score one for their home country of Argentina. Awad was there to represent Chile, and representing for a bit further north were Lerner of Canada and Skeans of the United States. Fenjin hailed from the Netherlands. And all were there with the same goal - win.
It didn’t take long for the action to begin. The second hand of the day saw Barbero push all-in from the big blind after an initial raise by Farias. Barbero was sitting on , but Farias had pocket fives and made the call. The flop immediately gave Farias the advantage when it came , and the turn and river solidified it. Jose Barbero was gone in ninth place with $28,220.
Five hands later, the original short stack of the table decided to move. The all-in from Fenijn came preflop for his last 52,000, and Farias made a reraise to isolate, which worked. Fenijn showed , but Farias held pocket jacks. The board ran out , and the jacks held up to send Alfons Fenijn out in eighth place with $35,280.
Play slowed a bit from the initial fast-and-furious mode, but eventually Lerner pushed for his last 100K preflop with . Awad woke up with pocket queens and called. The board brought a little help for the short stack with the flop, but the on the turn left the outcome determined. After the came on the river, Derek Lerner was officially eliminated in seventh place with $49,400.
The next monster hand had everyone talking. It began with an initial raise from Nitsche, after which Fernandez moved all-in for 230K. Farias followed with an all-in move of his own with a 515K stack. Nitsche called both with pocket aces, Fernandez showed pocket kings, and Farias turned over pocket tens. The board brought none of those as it produced . Leo Fernandez was ousted in sixth place with $63,520, and Sergio Farias took a fifth place finish and the $77,620 that came with it.
Suddenly, there were only four players remaining, and Nitsche was dominating with nearly 2 million chips. The rest of the players were struggling to reach the 500K mark.
Skeans was the next to move when his stack reached the low point of 159K. Awad called with , and Skeans was forced to show . The dealer gave them , and Jason Skeans took a fourth place finish with $105,860 in prize money.
Awad was the next to give it a shot, and he did so preflop with pocket fours. But Landazuri was there with pocket nines. The flop was encouraging for Awad when it came to give him the set, and the on the turn gave him even more hope. But the came on the river for the better set and gave the pot to Landazuri. Rodolfo Awad left the tournament in third place with $141,140.
Heads-up action began with the following counts:
Dominik Nitsche 2,085,000
Jorge Landazuri 941,000
And it took one hand.
As soon as the final two players settled in, the cards were dealt. Nitsche began by raising to 80K, and Landazuri called to see the flop come down . Nitsche placed a small 50K bet, but Landazuri check-raised to 140K. Nitsche called, and the turn came . Landazuri took the reigns and bet 150K, which was called by Nitsche. When the river brought a , Landazuri bet all-in with and nothing but the missed straight. Nitsche called with with trip kings. Jorge Landazuri finished the event in second place with $211,700 for the effort.
Dominik Nitsche won the Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final to take the Mar del Plata title, a trophy to commemorate the event, and the $381,030 in prize money. He also claimed the distinction of becoming the youngest LAPT champion in the tour’s history.
(Thanks to the PokerStars blog and PokerNews for live updates.)