The PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour’s third season kicked off its Grand Final Championship at the extravagant City Center Casino in Rosario, Argentina. The $5,000 buy-in event attracted 258 players from around the world who were vying for their share of a $1,176,200 prize pool. At the end of Day 1, only 131 players had successfully navigated the field. Leading the way was Nicolas “PKaiser” Fierro, who emerged as the chip leader with 278,200. A late-night battle between Fierro and his tablemate, Hugo Franca, led to an epic rise and fall that rocked the chip counts.
It all began when Franca, who had amassed a massive stack of 216,000 late in the evening, became involved in a pot with Fierro. In the hand, Franca attempted an all-in bluff with a board reading but was snapped off by Fierro, who held the stone cold nuts with the . Suddenly, Franca was down to 135,000, still a healthy stack, while Fierro took the chip lead with over 150,000.
Less than ten minutes later, the two became involved in another massive pot — over 80,000 with the board reading . Franca checked to Fierro. The chip leader took his time counting out 70,000 in blue chips before sliding them in the pot. Franca was clearly frustrated but announced “Call.” Fierro turned over , which left Franca shaking his head in disgust as he revealed . In a matter of minutes, Franca went from the overwhelming chip leader to a below average stack of 25,700. On the other hand, Fierra went from a mediocre stack to the biggest in the room.
As fate would have it, Fierro ended with more than double that of the other large stacks including Argentineans Mario Niciforo (130,000) and Arnaldo Meses (116,600). A little further down the chip counts are a number of Team PokerStars Pros vying for the title. Andre Akkari, Veronica Dabul, Maria Mayrinck, Angel Guillen and Dennis Phillips are just a few of the PokerStars Pros who made it through the day. Even more exciting: they will be joined by two LAPT Season 3 superstars.
Jose Ignacio Barbero became an LAPT sensation this year when he won back-to-back Main Events at the LAPT Punta del Este and LAPT Lima stops. He earned an impressive $529,330 for his victories and has a chance to capture his third LAPT title. Another LAPT champion still alive is Mattias Habernig — he won the LAPT Florianopolis just last month. If the young Austrian can make it all the way to the end, he will equal Barbero’s feat of winning back-to-back LAPT tournaments.
Although there are still plenty of amateurs and pros in the mix, not everyone was fortunate enough to make it to Day 2. The tournament saw some early eliminations including 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Chris Moneymaker and Team Pro USA member Victor Ramdin — both busted within the first four levels. In the second half of Day 1, many of the field’s biggest names had hit the rail. Among the casualties were Pascal Perrault, Dominik Nitsche, Alexandre Gomes, Gualter Salles and Humberto Brenes.
Players will return tomorrow at noon local time to play through the money bubble and down to the final 24 players. Be sure to check PokerNews for all the latest action, eliminations and chip counts as Day 2 of the LAPT Season 3 Grand Final gets underway.
Speaking of big tournament action, check out our $10,000 Sunday Million Freeroll on PokerStars. This is the fourth big Sunday Major freeroll we have had in as many months, and this time the qualification target has been slashed.