After a cold, wet night, the sun came out to shine on the east coast city of Punta del Este this morning. And a whopping field of 422 came out as well to join the fun at this year's main event, a new record for the LAPT stop.
That field created a total prize pool of $941,480 which the top 56 finishers will be dividing up this weekend, with $244,720 going to the winner.
Among those 422 were a number of familiar faces from LAPT events past as well as many representatives of Team PokerStars. We were glad to see recent WSOP bracelet winner Andre Akkari here at the Mantra, although he was just visiting, having other obligations as the godfather of his friends' son.
We also today missed that other "godfather" -- of Latin American poker, that is -- Humberto Brenes. Apparently Da Chark ran into a formidable foe in Las Vegas recently of the canine variety, and consequences of the dog bite proved significant enough to limit Brenes' travel for the time being.
Among those who did make it was defending LAPT Punta del Este champion Jose "Nacho" Barbero. For a few levels, anyway, as Nacho ran out of chips by mid-afternoon.
Barbero was followed to the rail today by several of his Team Pro brethren, including Angel Guillen, Greg DeBora, Christian de Leon, Leo Fernandez, Gualter Salles, and Karlo Lopez (Team Online).
That left just Fredy Torres of Team Online to represent the PokerStars team. Torres got off to a hot start today, but found that early momentum soon stifled and thus was forced to endure with a short stack for much of the latter part of Day 1. Finally, just before the end of play, Torres saw his short stack taken away as well.
Other notables joining the 200-plus players unable to make it to tomorrow's Day 2 included Fabrizio "SixthSenSe19" Gonzalez, Samar Hodali, Pablo Gonzales, Maria Stern, and Nicolas Fierro.
Meanwhile, others were thriving. Alex Manzano of Chile pushed out to a big stack early on before falling back to the pack later in the day. Then Erik von Buxhoeveden of Austria was one of the first to flirt with the 100,000-chip mark. And Roberto Hernandez of Uruguay also built a stack up over 100,000, knocking out Lopez in the process.
But by day's end it was Juan Jose Perez of Argentina who was sitting behind what appeared to be the biggest stack of them all with 197,500 at day's end. Perez, who finished seventh at LAPT Uruguay in Season 1, claimed numerous victims today, one of the last being Leo Fernandez -- the man who reportedly taught Perez how to play the game long ago!
From that starting group of 422, just 188 will be returning for Day 2 tomorrow. We'll be back, too, starting at noon when play resumes.