From final table chip leader to champ, Holland's Julien Nuijten went wire to wire at the final table of the first ever PokerStars.com Latin American Poker Tour event, held in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
The chip counts as the final table began were:
Player Country Chips
Julien Nuijten Netherlands 970,000
Vitaly Kovyazin USA 380,000
Alex Brenes Costa Rica 324,000
Nikolai Senninger Germany 318,000
Juan C. Burguillos Venezuela 297,000
Rafael Pardo Colombia 278,000
Eduardo Henriques Brazil 275,000
Oliver Kugler Germany 176,000
Severin Walser Switzerland 175,000
The first player eliminated was the Swiss player Severin Walser, who began the table as the short stack. Severim moved all in with , but ran into the pocket Aces of Rafael Pardo, and that was that.
Aces were all the rage early in this final table, as a few hands after Walser's elimination, Vitaly Kovyazin took his Aces up against the Queens of Nuijten, and doubled up early on.
After losing most of his stack on a few key hands, Juan Carlos Burguillos, moved his few remaining chips into the middle with and was called by Oliver Kugler, who showed . No help for Juan Carlos, who picked up $ 15,700 for the eighth place finish.
Pardo lost much of the momentum his early pocket Aces had gotten him, and he was the next to go. On a flop of , all the money went into the middle against Julien Nuijten. Julien showed , and was ahead of the of Rafael. The board blanked off, and Rafael received $ 23,550 for 7th place.
After his early double up, the new chip leader Vitaly Kovyazin sent the German Oliver Kugler home. On a flop of , Oliver led out, and Vitaly called. The turn brought the , and the German announced all-in immediately. Vitaly snap called with , crushing the pocket Queens of Kugler. Kugler won his seat on the last possible satellite on PokerStars, and took home $ 31,400 for his efforts.
The only Brazilian at the final table was the next to go, much to the chagrin of the local crowd. Eduardo Henriques re-raised all-in against Julien, showing only against the of Julien. The flop gave hope to Brazilian fans, when it brought , but an came on the river, making local favorite Eduardo Henriques the 5th place finisher. He won $ 47,100 dollars for his fifth place finish, and took the money just down the street to his home, not far from the tournament site.
The lone familiar name at this final table, Alex Brenes, was the next one to go. Brenes brother, Team PokerStars Humberto Brenes was in the crowd sweating his brother, but couldn't help him when it was Alex's time to go. Alex opened for 80,000 with AQ, and had Nikolai Senninger move in over the top for 450,000. Brenes made the call, and Senninger showed pocket tens. The pair of Tens held against the AQ of Brenes, crippling him down to just 7,000 in chips. Alex was out shortly thereafter, and took home $ 62,800 dollars for fourth place.
Down to three handed, the chip counts roughly looked like this:
Vitaly Kovyazin - 1,400,000 in chips
Julien Nuijten - 1,000,000
Nikolai Senninger - 700,000
About 30 minutes later, Senninger was the next to go, and a bit unlucky when his ran into the of Nuijten. The board blanked off for the 18 year old German, and he was sent back to Germany with an extra $ 86,350 in his pocket.
When heads-up began, Kovyazin was sitting on 1,740,000 chips against the 1,400,000 stack of Nuijten.
Heads up was a wild ride, with both players trading the chip lead at times, with Kovyazin getting saved on the river on at least one occasion. Nuijten was the more aggressive player heads up, three betting Kovyazin on more than one occasion, and picking up a lot of small pots. The final hand looked like this:
Julien opened the betting by raising to 100,000. Vitaly called. The flop brought and Vitaly checked. Julien bet 100,000 chips again and was check-raised, by Vitaly, who made it 300,000 to go. Julien called. The turn brought the and Vitaly announced all-in. Julien called immediately, showing for trip sevens, against Vitaly's . The river was an inconsequential , and it was all over.
47 year old Vitaly Kovyazin, a Russian who has been living in the US for 15 years, took $ 117,750 dollars back home with him to America for second place. Julien Nuijten, the 19 year old Dutchman, took home $ 222,940 dollars, and will forever be the answer to the question 'Who won the very first LAPT event?'
See you in Costa Rica for the next LAPT event.