The first time I ever covered an LAPT event for the PokerStarsBlog was in San Jose, Costa Rica at the beginning of Season 2. What astounded me at the time was just how (for lack of a better word) crazy the players and the rail could get on the LAPT. They were a loud, excitable, fun bunch of people.
Ryan Fee annihilated that final table (by, among other things, making a royal flush) en route to the victory. It took him a tidy three hours and forty minutes, an LAPT speed record that stands to this day.
But boy, did Daniele Nestola come close to topping Fee today.
Four hours exactly. That's how long it took Nestola to wrap up the victory in the LAPT Grand Final and to bring the curtain down on another highly successful LAPT season.
Nestola notched four of the seven eliminations at this final table. He got things rolling by eliminating Juan Gonzalez in 8th place. Our two Chileans secured the next two knockouts by bouncing the hometown hope, Vitor Torres, in 7th place and ending Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu's dash through the tournament in 6th place. Negreanu may not have won the top prize, but he added his first LAPT final table to his already sterling poker resume. He's now the only player in history with an EPT, APPT and LAPT final table.
Nestola took the talking stick back from the Chileans with the back-to-back eliminations of Jonathan Markovits and Felipe Morbiducci in 5th and 4th places, respectively.
Afterwards Nestola tried to broker a deal. Gasperino Loiacano and his vocal cheering section said no way, then backed up his words with actions by eliminating Carlos Ibarra with a perfectly slow-played top pair.
That left one elimination to the championship. Nestola notched it, earning the first winner's trophy of his live poker career and sending all of us left to enjoy what remains of Carnival and the season-closing LAPT party tonight.
Nestola, you might remember, is German. He spent the entire final table turning over his right shoulder and talking to two German friends on the rail. In German. But that didn't stop all three of them from shouting "VAMOOOOO!" several times during Nestola's champion photo. By the trophy presentation ceremony, they were singing along with Queen's "We Are the Champions" at the top of their German lungs.
That's what Brazilian poker - and poker on the LAPT generally - does to people. It takes an otherwise stoic nation like Germany and turns its people into passionate, singing, foreign-language-screaming crazies.
And that's the way we like it.