Five stops on Season 4 of the LAPT in five different countries produced five Main Event champions of five different nationalities. When converted to old-fashioned greenbacks, each man cleared at least five figures in his win.
All five were invited to Sao Paulo to take part in the Grand Final, the final tournament before the schedule for LAPT's fifth season is announced on February 21. As a sign of commitment to its champions, the LAPT fronted the buy-in for each man and comped him five nights at the tournament venue, the WTC Sheraton.
Once they got here, the rest of the work fell to the five champions.
Alex Manzano of Chile was the first champion made in Season 4. He outlasted Joao Neto in Sao Paulo one year ago this week, denying Brazil its first LAPT champion on their own soil. For that feat he earned the Brazilian Real equivalent of roughly $340,000. His Grand Final was far less successful; Manzano was among the first players bounced from the tournament.
Following Sao Paulo, the LAPT traveled to Vina del Mar, Chile. There Brazilian Murilo Figueredo did what Neto could not. He became the first-ever LAPT Brazilian champion. His reward was $146,000, a pile of money from which he can seek solace after he, too, was eliminated early on Day 1 here at the Grand Final.
After flip-flopping Chilean and Brazilian champions in the "wrong" countries, the hometown heroes got it right in Lima, Peru and Punta del Este, Uruguay. Peruvian Kemal Ferri, a last-minute entry to the Main Event in Lima, rode a wave of good fortune and great skill all the way to the championship. He's had a quiet Day 1 here at the Grand Final. His 25,000 chips are going to start seeming few in about 15 minutes when we reach the 600-1200 level.
Over in Uruguay, Alex Komaromi booked the win on behalf of the host country. His luck at the Grand Final was no better than Manzano's or Figueredo's.
Last but not least there was Julian Menendez of Argentina. He was the last man standing at the Colombian National Poker Championship, the LAPT's wildly successful first-ever event in Colombia. It was a final table that stretched deep into the night, as no player gave any quarter. Menendez avoided the rail in Medellin, but here at the Grand Final he's spent the better part of the last level seated behind a buddy still in the Main Event. "Se fue?" I asked him. He nodded glumly.
Manzano, Figueredo, Komaromi and Menendez have already "qualified for Carnival", as PokerStars Spanish-language blogger Reinaldo Venegas describes eliminations here, and Ferri potentially isn't far behind. But they can't mind too much. Because of their LAPT crowns they got a free entry to a big buy-in poker tournament and five free nights at a Sao Paulo hotel during the height of Carnival.
It's good to be a king.