Latin American Poker Tour

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Based upon its success in organising the European Poker Tour since 2004 and the Asian Pacific Poker Tour in 2007, PokerStars decided to offer a similar series of poker events on a very different continent in 2008—The Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT). Brazil was selected as the initial base of operations.

When questioned regarding the decision by PokerStars to create the new tour, David Carrion, President of the LAPT, said, “The poker communities in Latin America are extraordinary. They are growing quickly and are extremely enthusiastic and passionate about playing in the tournaments.”

With the intention of bringing “exciting, world-class poker action to a new region of the globe,” LAPT adopted a format similar to the one used with success in its other poker tours. Main Events all feature No Limit Hold’em, while at some venues, side events, Sit & Go tournaments and cash games may include other poker variants, such as Stud or Omaha.

The buy-in levels at LATP events can vary greatly from event to event, ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 (or the equivalent in local currency). To make entry easy and accessible to the broadest market possible, PokerStars began hosting qualifying tournaments to live LAPT events on a regular basis, thus allowing players to secure LAPT packages for free.

The very first season in 2008 included stops in three countries: Uruguay, Costa Rica and Brazil. The inaugural LAPT Punta del Este set the bar high with a $241,735 first prize for its Main Event, won by Jose Miguel Espinar of Spain. LAPT San Jose had an even larger prize pool, and Valdemar Kwaysser of Hungary took home $274,103 for top honors. Then, Julien Nuijten of the Netherlands was triumphant at LAPT Rio de Janeiro, picking up a $222,940 reward.

Brazil was dropped from the schedule in 2009 and replaced by two new venues, Argentina and Chile. Dominik Nitsche of Germany got the largest prize of Season Two, beating a field of 291 players to win $381,030 at LAPT Mar del Plata. The biggest treat of the season, however, was the crowning of the first South American winner, Fabian Ortiz of Argentina who was successful at LAPT Viña del Mar, worth $141,426.

In 2010, the number of stops on the tour was expanded to five—Costa Rica, Uruguay, Peru, Brazil and Argentina. Again an Argentinean dominated the competition, Jose “Nacho” Barbero, first winning the LAPT Punta del Este in February for a whopping $279,330 and then traveling to Peru to win the inaugural LAPT Lima, worth $250,000—the tour’s first double champion. Meanwhile, Martin Sansour of Peru returned the favour by capturing LAPT Argentina and its $322,280 prize.

The six stops of the 2011 tour included Chile and Columbia replacing Argentina. LAPT Punta del Este drew 422 entrants and paid $244,720 to the eventual winner, Alex Komaromi of Uruguay. If not for Germany`s Daniele Nestola winning the LAPT Grand Finals Carnival Poker Festival, every single one of the Season Four events would have been taken by a native of Latin America.

In 2012, a local won the kick-off event. Alirio Diaz of Chile claimed victory in the LAPT Viña del Mar, worth $76,580. Brazilian Marcelo Fonseca won the second leg, LAPT Uruguay, and $144,240. To date, Argentina has delivered the most victories with four, followed by Germany, Chili, Peru and Brazil with two apiece. In terms of seats at final tables, Brazil leads with 31, trailed by Argentina with 21 and then Chile and the United States with 16 each, while Colombia has 12.

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