LG... Life's Good
I just had a nice and relaxing week at home in Melbourne, Australia after a whirlwind trip to Uruguay for the PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour in the awesome beachside party town of Punta del Este earlier this month. The LAPT’s are notorious for having fast-paced final tables, but I rarely see one over in less than five hours! That’s what happened when Alex Komolomi entered the final table of eight with 35% of the chips in play. He dominated his way to heads-up in just over three hours, and after a couple of unscheduled breaks and one chip-lead swap that only lasted a few minutes, we had a winner in lightning speed. The great part was that Komolomi was a local, not only being the first Uruguayan LAPT champion, but also winning it on his home turf. He was so nervous after his win that he politely requested he do his interviews after calming down for half an hour! What a sweetheart. As the event was drawing to a close with just the eight players returning for the fourth day of play, we put together a little string of highlights, taking out the hardwork for you if you failed to follow along at the time, rolling all the fun into one video.
The Mantra Resort, where the LAPT was held, was amazing. It is the middle of winter right now and freezing cold in Uruguay, but the sun came out to say hello on one of the days while Christian de Leon was drowning his sorrows after an unsuccessful LAPT. This was my favorite interview of the entire week simply because of the setting. You’ll notice that it’s not a PokerNews video, but actually a PokerStars.tv video, which the team here at PokerNews also produce.
Once the tournament ended it would have been a waste to come all this way and then just go straight home, so I added a couple of days to relax before the long journey back to Australia. Angel Guillen and I headed over to Buenos Aires for two days. I had no idea how amazing that place is. Leo Fernandez said to us one morning when convincing us to go "it's like Paris" at which Angel laughed, but now I understand why he said that. Argentinians are like the French, the walk with so much confidence and are so well dressed - and I didn't see a single overweight person there! Jose Ignacio Barbero took us to his "favourite restaurant in the whole world" - Osaka. It's in the heart of the stunning Palermo area and is a combination of Japanese and Peruvian food. It was incredible! He also recommended Guido's - a little Italian restaurant right by our hotel (across from the zoo so it was a bit of a stinky walk). You don't get given a menu here, you just get fed anything and everything the owner feels like feeding you! As you're sitting down the appetisers are already coming, and all the meals are like home-cooked Nona's specialties. It was so cosy inside, I loved it!
Filling out my customs arrival card when landing back in Australia two days ago was so bizarre. I said that I boarded that plane in Argentina, yet spent most of my time in New Zealand. What a strange route. Welcome to the strange life that I love! I’ve been from what feels like opposite sides of the world, from New Zealand to Argentina in just two weeks, and what a whirlwind it was.
Auckland, New Zealand
Despite feeling like I’m just next door to my home town in Melbourne, Australia, I find that Auckland has an extremely relaxed, peaceful atmosphere that’s so refreshing compared to the busy city lifestyle in Melbourne. I mentioned in my recent guide to Auckland that this is home to some of the friendliest people on earth, and it’s no lie. Despite the Maori looking like some of the scariest people (see The Haka, and even the champion Brotha D in the Wrap Up video), as soon as they open their mouths, you almost just want to give them a giant hug! Here is a video we made when we first arrived. I must say, it was hard work putting it together with every line taken from a different place across the city, so I’m pretty proud of it.
The APPT Main Event was short and sweet, with only one Day 1, which means we had a champion in just four days. It was a pretty entertaining four days, with Team PokerStars Pro Tony Hachem attempting the Haka and Daniel Neilson and Andrew Hinrichsen jumping off the Sky Tower. To top off a fantastic week, we saw the Main Event dwindle down to heads-up play between two extremely deserving people. Everyone was torn between Brotha D, the lovable and well-known Godfather of New Zealand Hip Hop, and Australian poker-scene regular Tom Grigg. It was quite the epic heads-up battle lasting more than four hours, and it was Brotha D who eventually triumphed, with Grigg being gracious about it. You can see all of this and more crammed into the following four minutes.
It was quite the ride getting to the LAPT Grand Final. After the long-haul flight from Down Under, throw in an expected three-hour drive from Buenos Aires that took twice as long because of a strike with a driver that couldn’t speak a word of English, and boy was I happy to finally arrive in Rosario and go straight to bed! Of course, it was all totally worth it. What a fantastic place Rosario is. We had a couple of days to wander the streets, and our hotel was just walking distance from the main strip, Cordoba, so there was plenty of sightseeing and shopping to be done. It was unbelievable how cheap everything is. From $60 shoes to $4 bottles of amazing local wine over dinner – we were loving life over there.
That video was made with ease thanks to our luck in finding a cab driver who just happened to live between Rosario and Las Vegas. Jackpot! An English-speaking cab driver is a rare find, so we kept him with us for about an hour to give us our own little guided-tour to catch all the sights.
I resurrected Calling the Clock after it sat off the shelf for quite some time. The first victim was Tennis Pro Gaston Gaudio, but then my highlight was on our very own PokerNews hostess Kristy Arnett with thanks to the help of the entire PokerNews team.
Throughout the LAPT Main Event, we had so much fun, as always. The Welcome Party that PokerStars threw at the City Center Casino was fantastic, with the band making use of the most bizarre things, such as plastic bags, as instruments, and cannons firing out PokerStars-themed confetti to send off Season 3 with a literal bang. We saw some of the most amazing looking women wandering around the poker room, and I met some of the most generous and lovely people. A third of the final table were local, and amazingly, in the back-to-back fashion that has existed on the LAPT, with Team PokerStars Pro Nacho Barbero winning two Main Event titles, and Team PokerStars Pro Christian De Leon winning back-to-back Second Chance side events, the LAPT Florianopolis Champion Matthias Habernig made his way to this Main Event final table. He didn’t take it down, but what an amazing achievement for him after starting off in Brazil as an unknown Austrian qualifier. The title eventually went to Peruvian Martin Sansour whom you can meet in the following wrap-up video, once again rolling our days of nonstop laughs and poker into just three minutes.
Another highlight while in Rosario, was when Kristy took the PokerNews cameras to the hotel to film a Sunday Grind with player manager Dan Frank and Team PokerStars Pros Victor Ramdin and Gualter Salles. I guess you could say Salles suffered a bad beat only seconds before our arrival, as his laptop screen was shattered when we got there. You’ll have to wait for that video to come out soon!
In just a few days, I will be airborne for Rosario, Argentina for the grand finale of the Latin American Poker Tour's third season. Am I excited? Hell yes! I’ve done a little reading on what to expect, and I’m here to share what I found with you.
Rosario is a cultural city full of museums, theatres, and structures all rich in history. This is no small town – it has 1.2 million residents – but it still manages to escape the busy “international flavor” of Argentina’s capital city – Buenos Aires.
Getting There and Around
Rosario is 300km (187 miles) northwest of Buenos Aires. Taking a 50-minute flight with Aerolineas Argentinas is the easiest option, but it only leaves once a day at 9:15 p.m. Travel by road takes around three hours. Unless you want to hire a car, taking a bus would be the next best option. The last resort is a six-hour train ride, but I’ve been warned against it as they’re in pretty bad shape and not much cheaper than the bus, so don’t try it.
Let’s face it, if you’re joining us for the Latin American Poker Tour Main Event, all but 24 of you will have at least a couple of unplanned days up your sleeves. Here are a few suggestions on exploring the gorgeous city.
The weather is starting to warm up, so it’s time for water sports. Taking a kayak on the Paraná River is the perfect escape from any bustling city. The beach lining the river’s edge, known as La Florida, is the perfect place to find a bar or restaurant and enjoy the day or night with a view of the island across the river.
Hire a bike and give yourself a personal tour of the iconic buildings, monuments and historic neighborhoods on your two wheels. There is so much to see in Rosario, including the National Flag Memorial, a structure that looks like a ship sailing to the future, representing the exact area where the Argentine flag was raised for the first time.
Can you shake it? Move it? Use it? Groove it?
This place is perfectly suited for the party-loving poker player. It sucks when you finally wind down after your long grind only to discover that the city is asleep. Rosario, however, is known for its nightlife. The clubs don’t heat up until 2 a.m., and they continue into the sunlit hours of the morning. Rosario is also known as the “Salsa Capital of Argentina,” so it's time to learn a thing or two.
The best news of this entire article? The women of Rosario are not only considered the most beautiful in Argentina, but there is a significantly disproportionate ratio of women to men. Meaning there are so many more women around. A little different to the usual scenery within any given poker room. Take it easy fellas.
Latin American Poker Tour
The Latin American Poker Tour Grand Final will be held at City Center Rosario, the biggest casino in all of South America with over 2,000 slot machines and 80 table games. The $4,700 + $300 buy-in Main Event commences on September 23rd 2010. With guaranteed fierce emotions at the table, five-star accommodation at Pullman, shopping, and a bowling alley, what more would you need?
See you in a few days at the beautiful Rosario, Argentina!