The Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT) was held earlier this month in Lima Peru at the Atlantic City Casino in the beautiful district of Miraflores.
After four days of play, Team PokerStars Pro Jose "Nacho" Barbero became the first person to clinch two LAPT championships. He walked away (not really walked because he had to play a hell of a lot of games) with $250,000 in prize pool money. Viva la Nacho!
During the past year, I've covered a lot of big PokerStars tournaments at various locations all over the globe. But I have to say the LAPT was one of my favorites due to the style of play, the attitude of the fans and players, the chatter at the tables, the emotions when a big hand is won, etc..
Tournament poker is also about big personalities. At the LAPT, the personalities are even bigger. The South American culture brings a more flamboyant mix to the poker tables that adds another layer of entertainment to the game than you usually see at tournaments in the U.S.
For example, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) is going on as we speak in Las Vegas. With North American players, you are guaranteed to find a sea of players who look a hell of a lot like this:
On the North American poker circuit, it's largely a sea of clones in the gray hoodies and sunglasses who play at the tables and look a lot like the Unabomber. But at the LAPT there is more of a sense of flair and style; not to mention individual personalities that shines through the stacked colored chips.
Sure you get guys wearing hoodies, but they seem to pull it off better--looking like a part of Che's rebel forces:
Some players took the rebel-force-look even further and adopted a poker playing persona that resembled one leading a small revolution in Bolivia. Viva la Poker!
Hoodie-wearing also had a unique twist at the LAPT. Like this player from Costa Rica as an example; the hoodie accessory looks more like he's ready for a trek in the rainforest rather than a flip of the river card. Stylish!
And of course you get loads guys in sunglasses. The unique South American style can easily incorporate the poker visor and sunglasses all in one look--and make it work.
Maybe its all about having style and flair? Some LAPT players could players pull of the poker playing sunglasses-look and come across looking like a cool Latin pop star.
One of my favorite looks at the LAPT came from the Argentinean player Leandro "Peluca" Csome. With a constant huge stack of chips in front of him, he made his way up the tournament ladder while draped in the flag of Argentina.
With a flag signed by all his friends for good luck, he looked like the Superman of Argentina.
"What's that written on his flag?" I asked his friend about a particular signature written in Spanish that read "la uva."
"It means grape," he explained. "It's something very easy to squash. (Pause.) "It's ironic."
Though held in Lima Peru, the LAPT still attracted players from all over the world. The player with the best look was the sole entrant from Russia: Andreas Lobzhanidze. He spent the entire tournament wearing a T-shirt with Vladimir Putin blazoned on the front:
But what really made me really fall in love with this guy was his choice of horse and cat figurines that he put on top of cards for good luck during every hand.
"Why did you switch from the cat to the horse?" I asked.
"The horse wasn't working so well," was his deadpan reply.
Of course, there was one face on the scene new to the LAPT. Yes, I ripped up the tables in Lima as I made my way to a 2nd place finish in the LAPT media tournament with my sly Texas Hold 'Em proclivities. (And no, I didn't see Joran van der Sloot at my table!)
And the enthusiastic LAPT fans simply loved it. (If you truly believe this is a shot of them watching me play poker.)
All in all the LAPT is something to truly experience for any fan of the poker circuit. Grab a Pisco Sour and chow down on Ceviche and let the chips stack up.