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LAPT Costa Rica: Day 1 come rain or shine

There is a certain optimism in Costa Rica that belies the near-constant rain in the country. When the clouds roll over the valley and the mountains are covered by a gray haze, one wonders how the citizens of this beautiful place can live with their trademark Pura Vida spirit. It’s only after one watches the sun come out in the morning and the flowers blooming on the trees in November that one can understand why the smiles here are so frequent.

While it pushes a metaphor to its edge, i’ts not hard to understand why this country has embraced poker so fully. This is a game that can seem to be ever-drenched by rainstorms. The tournament life is as hard as the rain. Cash is hard to come by and a big score is nearly always elusive. There is that time, though, when the sun breaks through and all seems right with the world. That is what the 219 players who started here today were seeking.

At day's end, 38 players remained, a startling 83% of the field gone and looking for other more profitable activities. At the top of the field, a British player named Rob Woodcock. More on him in just a bit. First, we have to pay our respects to the fallen.

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The $3,700 buy-in event promised and delivered a $1 million prize pool. Twenty-four players will walk away with at least $9,000. The field here featured dozens of PokerStars players and more than a couple Team PokerStars Pros. Local poker Godfather Humberto Brenes joined Victor Ramdin, and Brazilians Andre Akkari and Alex Gomes in the fight for their first LAPT title. It was not to be. All played a long hard day, but succumbed to the dark side of the game late into the evening.

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Team PokerStars Pro Alexandre Gomes accepts his demise

The same fate met Vlademar Kwaysser, last season's LAPT San Jose champion. Though holding tough throughout the day, by the time the game broke for the night, the champion was gone.

The big stories of the day surrounded a group of young, tough players including a talkative Ryan Fee who roughed his way through a minefield and held the chip lead for most of day, in what he described as “just another day in the life.” He finished the day around 130,000.

It looked as though Fee would be the chip leader at day's end, but late in the evening, PokerStars player Rob Woodcock made a run to around 150,000, the last 30,000 of it coming courtesy an ace on the turn in his A-Q vs 9-9 battle. He knocked out Raymond Wu in the process.

Woodcock admitted that he got lucky early on today and then took to running good.

"It started off with a pretty good table. There were a few sit-outs, so I was able to chip up early and establish quite a loose image which got me paid off in a few nice spots," he said. "Then the table got progressively tougher and tougher. I had about forty big blinds at that point and got moved tables to a much weaker table and managed to get it in with eights against queens. That's how I got to 100K."

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As humble as you'd ever want, Woodcock allowed that he ran well, something anyone in tournament poker needs from time to time.

"I definitely won a lot of pots without showdown to chip up, and then ran really well in all the big pots," he said. "I guess that's how you do well in these things."

With 38 players remaining, Tuesday looks to be a short day. Tournament poker being what it is, though, we're counting on nothing but the re-start at noon when we’ll play down to a final table of eight.

Photography by Joe Giron/IMPDI

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