We're nearing the end of the penultimate day here at the Punta del Este Main Event. And according to the announced plan, we're also nearing the end of the penultimate level -- Level 21 (blinds 8,000/16,000, ante 2,000). Just two tables remain, and with a few more eliminations we'll be ridding the room of that next-to-last table and the tourney will be played out on just one.
The ultimate one. The final table.
Then again, we could also be stopping if we reach nine players before the end of two more one-hour levels. In other words, if a player gets eliminated in 10th -- the knockout before the one that will leave us with our official eight-handed final table -- play will conclude for the evening.
There were 13 left when Level 21 began, thanks to a double-knockout hand having occurred a short while before. That was the hand in which Uruguay's Juan Garcia met his demise, as we were just mentioning amid reporting other late-day rushes.
That one saw Garcia open-pushing from middle position, the great majority of his then-tourney-leading stack having been claimed by Francisco Baruffi a few hands before. It folded to Pablo Melango who moved all in, and after a bit of thought Alberto Cerutti called with his remaining chips in the big blind.
The three players -- the last remaining to represent host country Uruguay, in fact -- all turned over their cards. Garcia showed T♣5♣, Melongo tabled Q♥J♣, and Cerutti turned over K♣T♦. No one hit the flop, but a queen came on the turn, and after the river blanked Garcia was out in 15th and Cerutti in 14th, both earning $7,630 for their finishes.
That made Cerutti the penultimate Uruguayan, then, leaving just Melango to try to follow-up his countryman Alex Komaromi's triumph here at Punta del Este in Season 4.
It would take a half-hour's worth of poker in Level 21 for another to fall, Diego Vilela of Venezuela was eliminated in 13th ($9,100) when his T♠T♦ failed to improve versus Carlos Mironiuk's K♣K♠. Vilela's countryman, Fabio Baduy, soon went out in 12th ($10,050) with pocket nines against Mironiuk's A♣Q♦. All was fine for Vilela until the turn, but a queen on the river cut the field to 11.
Continuing the theme of next-to-last, Baduy was the penultimate Venezuelan, leaving just his countryman Gasperino Loiacono to continue for Venezuela.
And just now came one more elimination, Thiago Camilo of Brazil in 11th ($10,050), when his K♥J♠ couldn't catch up to Osvaldo Resquin's pocket fours.
Incidentally, Camilo's knockout brings us a step closer to seeing who wins the bet between Jose "Nacho" Barbero and Andre Akkari we've been reporting about, the one concerning which country -- Barbero's Argentina or Akkari's Brazil -- would fill more final table seats. Just two Brazilians remain (Francisco Baruffi and Marcelo Fonseca), while Argentina has four left in the hunt (Osvaldo Resquin, Guido Ruffini, Ivan Luca, and Carlos Mironiuk). Barbero has clinched a tie, then, and unless two Argentinians fall before the final eight will collect $2,000 from Akkari.
We're nearing the end of Level 21 at present. Ten are left, five to a table. We're one away -- elimination or level -- from tonight's end. Time to wrap up this next-to-last post of the evening and go see how it ends.