The PokerStars.com LAPT Nuevo Vallarta event was suspended late on Day 1 during the middle of play by local gaming officials. It was announced just a short while ago that the tournament as a whole has been canceled.
242 players bought into the $2,500 main event championship hosted at the Marival Resorts and Suites in Nuevo Vallarta, in the tourist destination area of Puerto Vallarta, which began at noon local time on Friday. The event attracted several American pros in addition to some of the premiere players in Latin America. After nearly a full day of deliberations and negotiations with local officials, it was announced late on Saturday afternoon that the tournament in its entirety was canceled.
The remaining 89 players will split the prize pool, and play will not resume. Each of the 89 players reportedly will receive $5,000 directly from the prize pool, and the remaining prize money will then reportedly be distributed to the players on a chip-count basis, though this may be done by estimate due to the locked-down nature of the tournament facility. An additional $500 would then be given to each player over and above the prize-pool distribution.
The tournament had been running smoothly until the ninth level of play. Local gaming officials were on hand for most of the day, observing the tournament. At approximately 10:30 pm local time, gaming officials made an abrupt decision to rescind the LAPT's gaming license. At that time, as players, tournament officials and media were escorted from the room, tournament director Mike Ward made an announcement that play was suspended until further notice.
At that point, there were 89 players remaining, including Greg Raymer and Victor Ramdin, who was among the leaders. All of the players and spectators were ordered to vacate the tournament room immediately. Players left their chips on the table and headed for the, joined by the staff, dealers and media. For a couple of hours, perplexed players and media milled around while they eagerly awaiting a clarification on the suspension of the tournament.
At midnight, the remaining 89 players were told to return at noon on Saturday when they would be provided with a status update. Meanwhile, attorneys for the LAPT continued to negotiate with local gaming officials.
When players returned on Saturday, the LAPT informed them that the tournament was still suspended. Several hours later, players were informed that the tournament has been canceled. It is unclear at press time what this means for the future of tournaments in Mexico, but with the often murky legal environments that exist in the country, things like this always loom as a possibility, and it may well be some time before another major poker event is held on Mexican soil.
Soon after the cancellation was confirmed, the LAPT released this brief statement:
The Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT) confirms that it is cancelling the poker tournament in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, due to an indefinite suspension served on one of its local partners.
The LAPT states it has cooperated fully and in good faith with the requirements outlined by the Mexican government. The LAPT respects and abides by local regulations in each market.
LAPT's partner in Mexico obtained a formal ruling from the Mexican Ministry of the Interior (SEGOB) allowing the event to take place. As the LAPT compiled with every rule stipulated by the Code of the Mexican Federal Law of Games and Raffles, the reasons for suspension are being reviewed by lawyers of all parties.