350 runners converged upon the Atlantic City Casino in the Miraflores district of Lima. They traveled here from all over globe as far away as New Zealand and Romania. As expected, the local Peruvian players made up almost a quarter of the entire field (almost twice as many Argentina, who has the second most players here with 44). The buy-in was $2,500, which every player ponied up for a shot at an LAPT title and a chance to take home over $207,000 USD.
Last year's champion, Team PokerStars Pro Jose "Nacho" Barbero from Argentina, made history when he became the first player to win back-to-back championships on the LAPT. Nacho was en fuego last year as he shipped the Main Events at both the LAPT Punta del Este and and LAPT Lima. Nacho arrived to the tournament room toward the end of the second level, more than a tad late and in true Hellmuthian fashion. He made his way through the tournament room and a handful of players stopped to shake his hand and make small talk. Nacho eventually sat down at his table and went to work, with his sights on becoming a repeat champion at the LAPT Lima. Unfortunately for Nacho, he lost a couple of decisive hands at the end of level 3 and was crippled. He busted out shortly after the beginning of level 4.
Although only ten Costa Ricans played today, three of them were from the Brenes clan. More importantly, by the end of Day 1, nine of the original ten were still standing. The Godfather of Latin America poker, Humberto Brenes, held court in the corner of the room. No sharks were present (yet), but he jumped out to an early lead when he induced an opponent to shove over the top of him with 10-5. Humberto happily flipped over pocket Aces. He was even happier when they held up.
On the other side of the room, Humberto's brother Alex accumulated a stack in the early stages, but it was Humberto's son, Roberto (or Robertito as all the Coasta Ricans fondly nicknamed him) who raised a few eyebrows when he seized the lead. Robertito sent Gus Echeverri, a legendary polo player, to the rail. Ironically, Echeverri hails from Costa Rica and Robertito knocked out the only Costa Rican who failed to advance to Day 2. PokerStars Team Pros who fared well in today's field included Angel Guillen, Andre Akkari, Leo Fernandez, and Humberto Brenes. They all advanced to Day 2. The Team Pros to fall by the wayside were Alex Gomes, Christian de Leon, Gualter Salles, and Nacho Barbero.
Team Pro Online was well represented with Freddy Torres, Karlo Lopez, Jorge Arias, and Jorge Limon playing in today's field. On a sour note, only Karlo Lopez made the cut.
The lead was passed back and forth among a few players including Shirley Rosario, Derek Lerner, Engleberth Varela, Pablo Freschi, Lisandro Gallo and eventually Daniel Ospina. Ospina is an pro originally from Colombia who spent a lot of time in the United States by living in Phoenix, Arizona. Ospina finished the day with a whopping 264,200 in chips as the official leader.
The field at the LAPT Lima started with 350 runners and after ten levels of action, only 116 remain. They will all return tomorrow as the field will attempt to play down to 24 players. Day 2 will also include the infamous money bubble. The top 48 players will be paid out.
Here's an index of Day 1's coverage (provided by Martin Harris and Paul 'Dr. Pauly' McGuire with photographs from Carlos Monti)...
We shall be back tomorrow starting at noon local time to bring you Day 2 coverage of the LAPT Lima for the PokerStars blog.