The final table is now set for the LAPT Main Event in Panama. The field of 550 entries dwindled down to just eight remaining players, all in the hunt for the title and the first place prize of $158,485. The man currently looking the best to achieve this feat is Fabian Ortiz, who bagged slightly over two million in chips and is coming back as the chip leader. Ortiz, in fact, is chasing his second LAPT title after a victory in Chile back in ’09.
Hugo Suarez and Nick Russo will be starting tonight second and third in chips and both of them could easily turn the tables on Ortiz as their stacks are over 1.9 million. The official short stack belongs to Mexican Antonio Hogaza, who bagged just shy of 500,000.
As 47 players returned to play yesterday, it took over ten hours before the eight-handed final table was reached. No one seemed eager to bust so close to reaching the final table, so it naturally took some time. But sure enough, one by one, players were sent to the rail. The only remaining PokerStars Pro in the field, Leo Fernandez, was eliminated in 35th, followed by Carter Gill in 31st, former LAPT winner Alex Manzano in 20th, as well as the chip leader to start the day, Derek Ecenarro, in 12th.
When players finally merged into a single nine-handed table and it was just one more player to go before calling it a night and forming the official final table of eight, play really tightened up. In fact, it took nearly three hours to lose the ninth place finisher.
It was the eventual chip leader, Ortiz, who made the best use of those three hours. He started nine-handed play as the short stack. Ortiz slowly built up that stack, punctuated by knocking out Ariel Scarparro in ninth place while holding #8h#8s. Scarparro had #as#10h and was racing for his tournament life, but he couldn’t get across the finish line. The pocket pair of Ortiz held up, sending Scarparro to the rail as the final table bubble – a finish worth just a couple dollars shy of $14,000.
So tonight, Ortiz is going in with everything he could possibly need for the win. He’s got a previous title, experience, the chip lead, and momentum on his side. All he needs is a bit of luck for his hands to hold up and he’ll be home free. Not that everyone else will be disinterested bystanders, of course. It may well be a dream of Ortiz to capture a second LAPT title, but every single player at the table will be trying their hardest to crush that dream.
Whose dream will come true? Who will walk away disappointed? We will find out soon enough, as the final table starts in a couple of hours and the name of the champion will be revealed!