When first bidding you buenos dias this morning, I suggested the many head-spinning swings and jaw-dropping hands from Day 3 might give even those returning to short stacks today some extra hope. And after yet another wild day of poker in this coastal city -- warmly inviting all week even if the air has had an occasional chill -- the result appears to have proven such hope well founded.
Carlos Mironiuk was one of four Argentinians among the final nine, entering the final day squarely in the middle of the pack in fifth position. He'd lose a few chips during the first few oribts, then found himself in the difficult spot of being all in with T♥9♥ against the Q♣Q♦ of Marcelo Fonseca. Five cards later, Mironiuk's hand was still behind, making him the first to leave us in ninth.
A short while later it was another from Argentina, Guido Ruffini, committing the last of his stack on a Q♠2♥T♣T♦ board with K♥Q♦ and way behind Francisco Baruffi's J♠T♥. The river was the 8♠, and Ruffini was run out in eighth.
The lone remaining non-Latin American in the field, Vladimir Dobrovolskiy of Russia, had impressed us all with his ability to comeback from a devastating hand on Day 3 which saw his aces cracked and his stack nearly demolished.
After nearly missing the top 20, Dobrovolskiy not only made the final table, but was one card away from challenging for the chip lead after going all in with T♠T♥ against Baruffi's A♣Q♣ and seeing no card higher than an eight through the turn. But a queen fell on the river, ending the young Russian's impressive head of steam in seventh.
Osvaldo Resquin of Argentina was the next to run out of chips when his T♦7♦ failed to catch up to Joaquin Melogno's A♥7♥.
And after starting the day with a third-place stack, Ivan Luca would clock out in fifth after his Q♣9♣ failed to overcome Baruffi's A♥J♥. With four players left, all four of the Argentinians who'd come to the final table had already left.
Melogno began the day as host country Uruguay's lone remaining entrant, and during the course of the afternoon had improved his sixth-place starting spot to second and was challenging then-leader Baruffi. But after losing a significant chunk to Angel Guillen, Melogno had to battle with a short stack for much of four-handed play before finally meeting his end with Q♦8♦ versus Guillen's A♥K♣.
The final three -- Baruffi, Fonseca, and Guillen -- then decided to make a deal, chopping all but $38,000 of the remaining prize money evenly between them. Not long after that, it was Baruffi becoming crippled in a hand versus Guillen, then the Brazilian was finished off a hand later by Fonseca to be bounced in third.
Heads-up play began with Fonseca of Brazil with a lead over Guillen with 4.1 million to the Team PokerStars Mexico Pro's 3.4 million. Both players had third-place finishes on the LAPT in the past, meaning today's result would represent the best ever for both. Remarkably, the pair had begun eighth (Fonseca) and ninth (Guillen) in the counts to start the day!
Their duel would last over an hour-and-a-half, during which stretch Fonseca maintained his lead, edging out a little further amid a lot of relatively tight play.
Suddenly a Fonseca min-raise was met with an all-in shove by Guillen, which the Brazilian called in a flash, showing A♣K♥ to Guillen's A♠9♣. Five cards later no lucky nine had come for Guillen, and it was all over. Fonseca had won!
Congratulations to Marcelo Fonseca for topping a field of 375 to claim the second-ever LAPT title for Brazil!
And kudos as well to Guillen for his worst-to-almost-first performance today, and to Baruffi as well for making it to the three-way deal. Here's how those payouts look for the final nine:
2012 LAPT Punta del Este final table payouts (*reflects three-way deal):
1st: Marcelo Fonseca (Brazil) -- $144,240*
2nd: Angel Guillen (Mexico) -- $126,240*
3rd: Francisco Baruffi (Brazil) -- $116,240*
4th: Joaquin Melongo (Uruguay) -- $60,420
5th: Ivan Luca (Argentina) -- $46,000
6th: Osvaldo Resquin (Argentina) - $35,970
7th: Vladimir Dobrovolskiy (Russia) - $26,770
8th: Guido Ruffini (Argentina) -- $20,080
9th: Carlos Mironiuk (Argentina) -- $15,390
From here the LAPT will pause a few months before Season 5 resumes with a return trip to Medellin, Colombia in August. Thanks for following our coverage from Uruguay this week, and muchas gracias as well to the people of Punta del Este for another wonderful week in South America. We leave again with fond memories of good company, delicious eats, and big hands.