The off-season in Punta del Este feels a little bit lazy. The streets are empty of cars, there are no crowds on the beach, half of the shops are closed and the vibe is very mellow. There's no need to rush anywhere at this time of year.
Unless you're one of the sixteen players still in the Season 5 LAPT Punta del Este Main Event. If you are, you'd love to be rushing anywhere except to the rail or out the door. With two tables left, it's the perfect time to catch a rush and ride it to the final table and the championship.
Guido Ruffini caught quite the rush at the end of Level 19. By the time it was over, he climbed to 750,000 in chips. The hand that started it began with a pre-flop raise and call. On a connected 8♣4♠6♣ flop, Ruffini, out of position to Osvaldo Resquin, laid the trap and feigned weakness with a check. When Resquin continued for about half the pot, Ruffini picked up the speed with a check-raise that Resquin called.
Close to 200,000 chips were in the pot before Ruffini bet 84,000 on the J♣ turn. Again Resquin called. On the river T♦, Ruffini rushed to get his last 230,000 into the pot. Resquin tanked for about two minutes before pitching his cards into the muck.
From there Ruffini picked up two more strong hands in rapid succession. First he split the blinds and antes with Resquin when both players were dealt ace-king and put 150,000 into the pot pre-flop, with the remainder going in on a king-high flop. Then Ruffini picked up kings, and an elimination, when Moussa Hasbani's ace-king couldn't improve, all in pre-flop.
Ruffini wasn't the only one rushing to build a stack in the late stages. Over on Angel Guillen's table - the table that saw a massive three-way all in right before dinner -- Francisco Baruffi hit a mini-rush that ended with the demolition of Day 1 chip leader Juan Garcia's craftily accumulated stack.
Alberto Cerutti started the carnage with a pre-flop raise to 27,000. Baruffi three-bet to 60,000 from the button before Garcia put the fourth bet in cold from the big blind, to 120,000. Cerutti rushed to get out of the way, but not Baruffi. He five-bet to 220,000, leaving himself 550,000 behind. Garcia six-bet shoved for 820,000 total, enough that Baruffi would have to call all in to continue.
In a hand that had been all fast action to that point, Baruffi slowed down. He tanked for three minutes, clearly pained by his decision, before he called all in for 773,000 total with pocket queens. Garcia showed pocket aces, but Baruffi's heater that had allowed him to build 773,000 to that point continued when he spiked a queen on the turn. Tablemate Vladimir Dobrovolskiy, whose own aces were victimized in that three-way pot before dinner, put his head down on the table in sympathy with Garcia as the river blanked out.
Good timing for Baruffi, bad timing for Garcia. Baruffi's rush allowed him to stake a decisive claim to the tournament chip lead with almost 1.6 million in chips. Garcia, on the other hand, wasn't able to replicate the Russian feat of grinding back from a few big blinds. He was eliminated a few hands later and rushed from the room, looking for all the world like he might punch something.
Apparently he hadn't heard that there's no need to rush anywhere this time of year.