LG... Life's Good
Last week I paid my third visit to Uruguay’s pride and joy – Punta del Este – the loyal host of the Latin American Poker Tour. The four -day event drew a poker-playing crowd of 375 players to the plush Mantra Resort Hotel and Spa.
With Punta del Este being known as the place to be between December and February, people often ask why we go in winter. Well, there are many reasons, such as the ability for poker players to take over the town with ease, or at the very least, the Mantra Resort, without all the congestion of half a million tourists and the extraordinary prices that come with the high-demand summer months. While laying on the beach soaking up the rays is no longer an option in winter, the surf, and peacefulness at this time of year is bliss for a beachside getaway. You can check out the stunning sights of Punta del Este, and the Mantra, in the following video.
After three days of play, I found myself watching the most exciting final table I have yet to watch, and that was thanks to my boyfriend, Angel Guillen, who earned a seat. This event means a lot to him in Punta del Este, as it is basically where his career began, back in 2009, when he finished in third place of LAPT Season 2.
One of the luckiest hands of Angel's career to date hit him on Day 2. Here's Martin Harris' recount of the hand from PokerStars Blog:
“Guillen open from early position got callers in Dobrovolskiy (cutoff) and Rubinsztain (small blind). The flop came and a smorgasbord of bets ensued, leaving Rubinsztain and Guillen all in and Dobrovokskiy with only a little left.
Indeed, there were so many chips in the middle of the table, it looked a lot like our plates would at dinner, the cuts of beef, sausages, and chicken claiming nearly every square inch available.
Dobrovolskiy managed to find an empty space on the felt to table his . Guillen showed . And Rubinsztain turned over the hand that currently beat them both -- !
Rubinsztain had to think he was about to be served a nice, fortuitous helping of chips just before dinner. But the turn brought the , a card that complicated things enough to upset even the strongest constitution. Guillen had made a set and was now alive with a draw to a full house or four of a kind. And Dobrovolskiy, too, had improved his slim chances just a touch and was hoping for a jack to fill a gutshot to Broadway.
Then came the river... the ! Just before the rest of us filled up, Guillen had filled up... and how!
A whopping 550,000-chip pot was pushed Guillen's way, catapulting him into second place behind leader Juan Garcia. Dobrovolskiy was left with table scraps for chips with less than 60,000. And Rubinsztain was out in 25th place, having the rest of the night to ponder over his unfortunate fate.”
That hand left everyone speechless, most especially, Guillen. With that boost of chips he was then able to carry them through and secure himself a seat at the final table. He didn’t let the fact that he was the short stack get him down though. He was so determined to use this second chance to scoop that trophy he had come so close to doing back in Season 2.
As the payouts progressed through the final table, we were eventually left with just two players: Angel Guillen and Marcelo Ramos Da Fonseca. I found myself in this position...
As Dave Behr described, “Guillen and Marcelo Fonseca played a tough heads-up battle. Fonseca had a small chip lead to start and never relinquished it. Both players preferred to keep pots small pre-flop; most raises were for the minimum and three-bets were almost non-existent. After the flop, bets were hard to come by as the two men were very careful with all but the strongest hands.”
However, it had to end, and unfortunately for Guillen, Fonseca was dealt when Guillen shoved his . The three outs that would save Guillen were nowhere to be seen.
Securing a third and second place on the same final table is such an incredible feat by Guillen and I couldn’t be more proud. In Season 2 he then went on to huge success at the 2009 World Series of Poker, so lets hope that pattern continues!
Fonseca was an absolute gentleman and a fantastic player, which made it much easier to handle one of the toughest moments of my career to date. You can check out the winner interview below, in which I must say I impressed the pants off myself with keeping composed! Sending huge congratulations to both men, and to all that made the final table!
For the first time ever, the PokerStars.net LAPT has come to Colombia. I've been in Medellin for four days now, and like every other Latin American country, I absolutely love it. The people are simply the friendliest in the world and I just can't help but smile as I walk around the streets. It's such a severe contrast having come here from EPT London. I did have a great time there with an unexpected (and extremely welcomed) heat wave! Everyday was no less than 26 degrees. One day even going as high as 30 - in October! My boyfriend and I hired those bikes you can pick up at any corner and rode around town - we loved it! The only let down is the vibe of the people. Of course there are always exceptions as I do have many friends who are from, or live in, London, and they are beautiful people, but from my experience with the hotel staff and the general gist of most shop attendants, waiters, etc - people just don't give a damn. Perhaps I just had an unfortunate string of bad luck with my interactions, but that's the vibe that I was left with when my boyfriend and I happily boarded the train/ferry combo over to Ireland and escape the gloom!! Our time in Ireland was brilliant. I was born in Dublin but moved to Australia when I was just a baby. I've been back many times throughout my 26 years to visit my extended family, and every time I have a blast. This time was particularly fun with Angel and I hiring a car and road-tripping across to Galway for a few days. We stayed in Galway City where I saw my friend (and future singing superstar) Coby Grant play in a local pub as part of her European tour. We then drove up to a stunning castle called Kylemore Abbey where we stayed the night in a quaint little Bed & Breakfast. It was then on to Dublin for the chaos to begin with my crazy, booze-hound cousins!
Now, we're on dinner break of Day 2 in the LAPT Colombia Main Event. It was a huge turnout with 681 players - the most players we've ever seen in any LAPT. The poker room of Casino Allegre has been chaos all day, everyday with the hundreds of players plus even more hundreds of spectators coming to watch and support their friends. Of course with the emotion that comes with a Latin American game of poker, the excitement is rife and the chaos is nothing but enjoyable!
On the first night we had the the PokerStars Welcome Drinks at a bar called The Charlee in Zona Rosa - it was AWESOME. The bar was on the rooftop of the hotel, up on the 19th floor, surrounding a pool and overlooking the spectacular views that come with Medellin, no matter where you stand. Check out this video from PokerStars.tv:
The city centre is in a valley with the 2.5 million residents sprawled up on mountains surrounding the city. Colombia is most famous for it's beautiful women and it's amazing coffee (yes, there's one other thing Colombia is so famous for but I'm happy to say I haven't crossed paths with anything related!) but you might not know that the city is full of public artwork by law, giving it a funky vibe of an outdoor gallery. Roads, buildings, parks, everywhere has some sort of sculpture, painting or construction that's aesthetically pleasing - it's such an awesome addition to a city that I would love to see more cities across the world adopt. You can see that, and more, in the following PokerNews video:
For more videos from the PokerStars.net LAPT, check out this link. For now, it's back to work! LG xxx
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!
I’m writing this as I’m sitting on my third of four flights in my trek out of Lima, Peru, after an awesome week at the PokerStars.net LAPT. As always I had an amazing time. It’s really hard not to with the awesome team PokerStars has both behind the scenes and on the felt, and of course the stunning destinations that each stop takes us to.
This time I was lucky enough to return to the classy little town of Miraflores – one of the most upscale neighborhoods of Lima. My first visit was on a warm and welcomed break from the Rio for a week during the WSOP last year when the LAPT went to Peru for the first time in season three. Of course, that visit was rushed with the need to get back to Las Vegas, so this time around I took the liberty of arriving a day early to really take in the sights around town, as I wrote about last week.
Once the rest of the PokerNews team arrived, including our new Aussie hostess Nichole Pickering for her "initiation," it was straight into Trojan Horse working mode. I was hosting videos for PokerStars.tv that week, and our first shoot was of all the beautiful sights around Mirafloress, which you can check below.
Larcomar is one of my favorite spots in Miraflores,. If you didn’t catch it in the video above, it’s a three-story mall built into the cliff’s edge overlooking the ocean, equipped with shopping, restaurants, cinemas and two of Lima’s best nightclubs. On the eve of the Main Event, I took Team PokerStars Pro Christian De Leon on a little shopping trip. He and fellow Mexican Team Pro Angel Guillen are definitely one of the best-dressed team of pros at the felt. Angel was supposed to join us on this shopping tour but after a late-night snack at the poker table he was bed-ridden with food poisoning. The moral of his story? Don’t order creamy pasta in the middle of the night in some foreign casino’s poker room! So Christian and I had set aside a couple of hours to find him a “Day 2 Shirt.” Little did I know that this man can shop. The first shop we went into was also our last, and we both came out with our hands full.
As I mentioned, Nicki Pickering joined us in Lima for her first-ever gig with PokerNews. Of course, that then required an official initiation with a calling of the clock! You can get to know Nicki a little better in the following “sixty-seconds” – lets face it, I’m a rule-breaker when it comes to the minute-limit in these videos, athough I’m sure many would appreciate it with some of the “post-minute” questions I threw at her.
For a little “team bonding,” Nicki and I decided to enter the LAPT Ladies Event with our iPhones glued to PokerNews and microphones ready to go for break-time interviews, of course. I’m not going to lie; I was pretty impressed with the two of us at the multi-tasking awesomeness that took place over these two hours. The players always seem so pleasantly surprised when they see us actually playing for a change rather than always standing over them. So besides having our Mexican backers railing us, it was also side-bet-central around our table of ladies. Those who had faith in me were deservedly paid off as I managed to make it to the money with a three-way chop. There were only two tables, so it’s nothing to write home about, but obviously I was still excited, seeing as how I managed to not only last longer than Nicki, but I actually knocked her out. That’s what happens when the new girl challenges the old duck!
It's rare that I get to write my blogs while in the subject city, but this week I arrived in Lima, Peru, a couple of days early before jumping into a crazy working mode for the PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour. My initial goal was to squeeze in a quick trip to Machu Picchu, but it was harder to get to than I thought, so, unfortunately, those plans fell through. Nonetheless, roaming the stunning streets of Miraflores is certainly not a disappointing backup plan.
When I checked into my hotel, the Thunderbird Fiesta Hotel & Casino, I got my first pleasant surprise. My room, like all the others in the hotel, is a two-story loft with a kitchen equipped with a giant fridge ready to be filled with goodies from the 24-hour supermarket next door. Anyone who stays in hotels regularly knows that's an extremely rare treat! On top of that, the host venue for the LAPT is conveniently across the street. That is where I am right now, sitting in the media office of the Atlantic City Casino, a small but stylish casino, getting ready for the third stop on the LAPT's fourth season to get under way.
Miraflores is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Lima, set almost 80 meters above sea level, with some of the ritziest hotels and restaurants lining the cliffs of Costa Verde ("Green Coast"), overlooking the stunning ocean. It was here that I was lucky enough to eat at one of the prettiest restaurants I've ever been to, La Rosa Nautica (pictured below), a seafood restaurant set at the end of a pier with the waves crashing around you and a view of Miraflores atop the cliffs behind you as you eat. It was stunning! Surprisingly when the bill came it was relatively well priced for a gourmet meal in such a gorgeous setting, and considering the menu had no prices listed in it. That's usually my trusty indicator that I can't afford it!
On the cliffs above La Rosa Nautica sits Larcomar, a gorgeous three-story, open-air mall, overlooking the ocean, full of shops, restaurants and, what's said to be two of the best nightclubs in all of Lima. I've only been to one of them, Aura, and it was pretty awesome. It was here that I had my first "Reggaeton dancing experience." All I can say is that it's certainly different to the way we dance back in Australia! The only downside to Larcomar is that the complex is certainly not something typical of Peru, lacking the local culture. This is where you'll find the true Americanization of the area with Tony Roma's, Burger King, Pizza Hut and all that jazz tucked into what I call the "American Corner." If you ignore the corner and take in the stunning view, especially at sunset, then you will remember where you are again.
Speaking of sunset, the perfect place to watch it, if you've brought your girlfriend along, or picked one up on the way, is at El Parque del Amor (The Park of Love), just a 10-minute walk along the cliff side from Larcomar. Some say it's a poor smaller imitation of Gaudi's Park Guell in Barcelona with its rounded mosaic benches and romantic quotes tiled into the walls. In the middle of the perfectly manicured gardens is a giant statue of two lovers embraced in a kiss just to set the scene. Warning: skip this and watch the sunset elsewhere if you're feeling a little lonely -- all the loved-up couples surrounding you will probably just make you cringe.
My last recommendation is to take a trip to downtown Miraflores, right by Parque Central, to enjoy a pizza at any of the restaurants along Calle de las Pizzas ("Pizza Street"). It's a quaint little street lined with bricked restaurants similar to something you would see around Europe. There are a few pubs and bars that fill up at night, so it's a great place to come for a drink or two. The biggest bonus? Free Wi-Fi! After a few minutes of heckling from various restaurant servers we decided on Mezzaluna Cafe & Bar for one of its specialty pizzas and my first sip of the popular local soda, Inca Kola. The Inca Kola was average (perhaps choosing the Diet option was to blame) but of course the pizza was delicious. Although much to my disappointment, the Wi-Fi wasn't working, so there went my opportunity for on-the-spot TwitPics.
I knew I was in for a good time at the first stop of the PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour's fourth season when I found out it was in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Many of my friends are from that city and they have raved on for as long as I've known them about how amazing it is. Now I know why!
We've all heard the reputation Brazil has for its gorgeous women, and to prove this theory correct, upon first arrival you're greeted with some of the most stunning female immigration officers. There was one in particular who was so gorgeous that when I brought her up that night to other friends who traveled separately they knew exactly who I was talking about. On our first night a local friend, Sergio Prado, who so kindly supplied all of my pre-game tips on Sao Paulo, took the PokerNews video team out to my now-favorite area in Sao Paulo, Vila Madelena, for our first round of Caipirinhas. We had the traditional kind with Cachaça, a Brazilian liquor, and boy-oh-boy were they strong. I could only handle one and it took us about an hour to finish!
That night was Team PokerStars Pro Jose Ignacio Barbero's birthday, so we all ended up at a samba club nearby. It was only a Wednesday night, but the club was still full with the most amazing dancers decked out in the most extravagant costumes shaking their hips all over the stage. Full Tilt Poker Red Pro, and local resident, Felipe "Mojave" Ramos organized a VIP table for Nacho's birthday with fellow Team PokerStars Pro's Angel Guillen, Christian De Leon and the latest addition to Team PokerStars Online Jorge 'Baalim' Limon. It was here that the stunning women continued to appear, which you can see a sample of thanks to Felipe's tweet.
The next day was our first day of shooting around the city. It got off to a very hot and sweaty start at our first few sights until the biggest, most unexpected storm came bucketing down around us. This was when we learned all about Sao Paulo's unreliable and extreme weather trend during the summer. After braving the rain for half, and realizing it just wasn't going anywhere, we prematurely wrapped up our video and jumped in the first cab we could find for what was supposed to be a 15-minute ride home. Three-hours later we pulled into our hotel. Three of the longest and possibly most frustrating hours of my life! Sao Paulo traffic is like no other, and then add flooded roads on top of the already stand-still rush hour, and you have yourself a three-hour journey. Once we got back to the hotel it was straight into the party dress for the Welcome Party and round two of the Caipirinhas, but this time just with vodka!
The next day was a historic one for the PokerStars.net LAPT with the Main Event attracting 536 players -- the most we've ever seen in a live poker tournament south of the border -- setting the fourth season off to a brilliant start. Despite having a field (and final table) of mostly Brazilians, the locals still couldn't keep the title on their home turf and it was Chilean Alex Manzano who pocketed the R$615,000 and prestigious trophy.
One of the most celebrated events in all of Latin America is football (or soccer). Our very own Kristy Arnett also shares this passion, so I took her, Felipe Ramos and Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari to a local park for a "soccer-off." Kristy absolutely blew us away with this little maneuver she pulled, rightfully winning the competition.
The next most-celebrated event in Brazil is the world-famous Carnaval, and again Akkari and Ramos took the PokerNews video team (pictured above) to samba school, Império de Casa Verde, to watch (and take part in) a practice session for one of the participating schools in the upcoming competition. This was definitely one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I can't even begin to imagine what the "Main Event" is like, and all I know is that this addition has been made to my bucket list. That night was topped off with an early-morning visit to Joakins, where I can promise, you will find the best burgers in all of Sao Paulo.
I'm sure most of you will enjoy this edition of Calling the Clock. You really can't get much hotter than ESPN Argentina's LAPT Hostess Luli Fernandez. If you've never heard of her, then do yourself a favor and type her name into Google Images. You're welcome.
Lastly, if all of that is not enough of a nutshell of our fabulous week in Sao Paulo, Brazil, then here's even more of our highlights wrapped into less than 5 minutes.
Follow me on Twitter! @LynnGilmartin
The PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour is returning for its fourth season next week, starting in Brazil’s concrete jungle, Sao Paulo. The LAPT has been to Brazil before (how could we forget the stunning Florianolpolis last August?) but never to Brazil’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, and never in the heart of summer, which is just perfect timing for a famed Caipirinha in one of Brazil's many bars. This will be mine and Kristy Arnett's first time to grace the paths of Sao Paulo, so as always, we’re beaming with excitement to get there and start working on more PokerNews videos. I even hear that Paulistanos (residents of Sao Paulo) love a good barbeque - I might feel right at home, in that case!
- Language: Portuguese
- Currency: Real (R$). R$1 = USD $0.60
- Weather: A perfect 82ºF average
- Legal Age: 18 years and up can drink and gamble
The host venue of the LAPT is the Sheraton WTC São Paulo, the largest convention space in all of Latin America, so it’s due to hold plenty of eager players ready to cough up 5,000 BRL on February 17th for the kick off to the Main Event. With almost 300 hotel rooms and situated in the heart of the city, it's the perfect start to another successful season of the PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour.
Where to Go, What to See
As I’ve never been before, I enlisted the help of a dear friend, PokerStars Blogger and resident of Sao Paulo, Sergio Prado, to guide me around his fabulous city. Of course, my most important query was, where is the best place to have a Caipirinha? According to Sergio, "there are two famous neighborhoods near Sheraton. There is Vila Olímpia, with intense nightlife on the clubs, more focused on the playboys and high society people, and there is Vila Madalena, which is kind of like SoHo, more hippie, more relaxed vibe, with a lot of bars." So as soon as I arrive, you will find me at Vila Madalena sipping on that lime-flavored goodness with my Brazilian friends.
After the success of the football video above, which we made in Florianopolis last year, I’ll be sure to take some of the boys for a rematch to the Ibirapuera Park, which Sergio calls "the biggest one in town, our little version of the Central Park."
Keeping to the nearby sights includes one that you really can’t miss "if you open the window of your Sheraton room, you'll see Estaiada Bridge, a bridge that's becoming a landmark here in Sao Paulo." By taking a look at the main picture above, you will understand why. Last, you might recognize Paulista Avenue if you’ve seen any postcards of Sao Paulo. The 2.8-kilometre thoroughfare atop of the highest point in Sao Paulo is one of the most important avenues in this city for financial institutions and retail businesses, and is home to Latin America’s most comprehensive fine-art museum, MASP. It’s easy to make your way to Paulista Avenue on a subway line and various bus routes serving this most expensive real estate area in all of Latin America.
Living with a severe shopping addiction means that the part I’m most excited about is sneaking off during dinner break to the giant shopping malls all within one mile of the venue!
For a real taste of what to expect in Sao Paulo, check out the following video with all of our PokerNews highlights from Florianopolis last season:
Follow me on Twitter! @LynnGilmartin
The PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour season-four schedule has been released, so, naturally, I’m excited. I’m about to show you why it’s almost impossible to not have fun at LAPT events with some highlight examples from 2010. Unless of course, some Argentine slaps his slow roll on the felt in front of you as he runs circles around the table screaming with joy over hitting his one-outer on the river to end your Main Event early. That would suck a little.
The bright side? Not only do you get to stare at stunning girls all day such as LAPT Hostess Luli Fernandez (in the photo with me above chilling on a beach in Brazil) linger around the poker room all day, but there are so many amazing places to explore just outside the poker room.
Sao Paulo, Brazil – February 16-20, 2011
Season three took us to the Brazilian island of Florianopolis. It was a slight tease being on the beach in the middle of winter, but we still had such a fantastic experience. This year, the LAPT is returning to one of Brazil’s proudest cities, Sao Paulo, and best of all, not only is it going to be in the peak of their summer, but you know what they (Kristy Arnett) say about Brazilian women -- they simply win at life. Feast your eyes on the below video from this year’s LAPT Welcome Party in Brazil, and you'll see why.
Viña del Mar, Chile – March 17-20, 2011
Chile was a new addition to the LAPT season-three schedule, however, after the devastating 8.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Viña del Mar in late February, only a few weeks before the March event, the LAPT stop was cancelled. Twelve months later, the stop returns to the schedule, and we will head to Chile’s beach-resort town to pump our well-needed tourism dollars into the bounced-back stunner of a city.
Lima, Perú – April 12-17, 2011
I was lucky enough to escape the WSOP madness for one week this year, and head south to cover the LAPT in Lima, Peru, and this year we will return in April. It was here that headlines were created when Jose "Nacho" Barbero won his second LAPT title in back-to-back events. The event was held in the quaint town of Miraflores, offering us some brilliant nights out at the clubs in Larco Mar, and gorgeous surrounds, which you can see in the following video courtesy of PokerStars.tv.
Rosario, Argentina – June 1-5, 2011
Not many tour operators bother competing with the World Series of Poker. I like to think of those six weeks as the Bermuda Triangle of major poker-event scheduling, but PokerStars did it with success this year, and they’re certainly not stopping. Season four will take us to South America’s largest casino in Rosario, Argentina, the Grand Final destination of season three. Being the first week of June means the beginning of winter in South America – the perfect time to start hitting up the popular cities rather than the beach towns. I’ll let this video paint the picture of the fantastic week we had this year in Rosario.
Bogotá, Colombia – August 3-7, 2011
Returning to loved cities is one thing, but breaking new ground is what really gets me excited, and Columbia, the home of the most amazing coffee in the world, is just that. Bogotá is Columbia’s largest city, labeled the “Athens of South America.” If my crazy trip to Greece with five girlfriends a few years back is anything to go by, then I’m bursting at the seams with excitement to get there! It's said to be a roller-coaster of a city high in the Andes at an elevation of 8,646 feet. All cities have contrasts, but few have them like Bogotá, as described in this interesting passage by goway.com.
"Nestled high in the Andes at 8,646 feet, Santafé de Bogotá is a city of contrasts. It's a city of high-rises standing next to colonial churches; a city of universities, theaters and shantytowns. It is a mixture of influences, Spanish and English and Indian; a city of great wealth and material well being and abject poverty. It is a city of wild traffic and calm oases reflecting a bygone day. It is a modern city with futuristic architecture, graffiti and congestion; restaurants, bookstores and street vendors peddling emeralds, thieves, beggars, street people and drug dealers wrapped around the inner core of the old city."
The LAPT Grand Final destination is still to be confirmed, so in lieu of this unknown city, I'll leave you with a perfect taste of Latin America: a friendly game of football.
Follow me on Twitter! @LynnGilmartin
My job here at PokerNews is really hard. It’s so tough that I have to endure party after party after party when attending all of these poker tournaments across the globe. Throughout all the sweat and vodka cocktails, I can promise you, with so much dedication to my job, I will never fail to attend each and every one of these parties, just so I can show you what you could have been going through. In self-recognition for such hardship, I decided to compile my most standout parties to date and tell you why I loved them so much, of course!
PokerStars.net LAPT Florianopolis
I’ve always spoken openly about the giant soft spot in my heart for the Latin American Poker Tour, as it never fails to provide such a good time with such amazing people. The party in Florianopolis, Brazil, would definitely be my favorite of Season 3. I’m not sure if that’s because I spontaneously tore up the dance floor with Team PokerStars Pros Joe Cada and Veronica Dabul until the wee hours of the morning, had my first taste of a Caipirinha, or because I was lucky enough to receive dance lessons from the best of the best – as Kristy Arnett puts it, Brazilian women win at life – and wow, can they move their hips like no other! Enjoy the second half of this one fellas.
PokerStars.net APPT Cebu
It excites me so much knowing this tournament is just around the corner. The PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour is returning to Cebu, Philippines, to fill up the stunning Shangri-La Mactan Resort once again for a trip of absolute luxury. I’ll be writing more about this amazing location in coming weeks, but for the party – think crashing waves, palm trees, sand, balmy nights, fireworks, incredible food, and flowing drinks served by sexy Filipina. What more could you want?
My favorite time of year at home in Melbourne is Australia Day – the entire country goes wild. The day always falls during Aussie Millions, which is just another reason to add to the long list of reasons why you should head to Melbourne for one of the best tournament series in the world. I snuck out to St. Kilda Beach during the 2010 Aussie Millions to show off just how crazy the national holiday party is.
World Series of Poker
Surely it's no surprise that there is more than one party on my list for this category. The first: combine Snoop Dogg with Las Vegas and there is some serious fun to be had. All I am going to say is, thank you PokerStars!
Next was the PokerNews Kick off Party at Lagasse’s Stadium on the eve of the 2010 World Series of Poker. The team got together for the first time for the year, and we were all bursting at the seams with anticipation to get started. It’s always a treat when Gloria Balding, Kristy Arnett and I get to actually work together in the same video, and on top of that including the rest of our PokerNews friends that usually hide behind the screens of their laptop for the Live Reporting Blog. Meet some of our team and their not-so-accurate predictions pre-WSOP. Note: don’t miss Editor in Chief Matthew Parvis' red-wine mouth.
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!