242 avid poker players, including a few internationally known names, face a weekend of disappointment following official intervention in the Poker Stars.com Latin American Poker Tour event at the Marival Resorts and Suites in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico Friday. Despite having a favourable ruling from the Mexican Ministry of the Interior (SEGOB) allowing the tournament to take place, local officials suspended play late on Day 1.
Poker Stars' Mexican partner invested almost a full day trying to reach a positive solution with the local administration, but to no avail, and in the end the entire event was scrapped.
The 242 players who bought in for the event at $2 500 a head included Greg Raymer and Victor Ramdin, who were among the 89 players still in action when the tournament was halted. These surviving players will split the prize pool, and will receive some $5 000 directly from the prize pool, with the remaining prize money distributed to the players on a chip-count basis. An additional $500 will then be given to each player over and above the prize-pool distribution.
Tournament officials reported that everything had been going well until the ninth level of play, although local gaming officials had been in attendance and were watching the action closely. But their attitude suddenly changed and an abrupt decision was made to withdraw the LAPT's gaming license for reasons that were not immediately clear. Players, tournament officials, staff and even the media were escorted from the room, leaving the tables as they were. The venue was locked down, and tournament director Mike Ward had the unpleasant duty of informing everyone involved that play was suspended until further notice.
Some hours later there had apparently been no change in the situation and the crowd was told to return midday Saturday for the latest news, whilst LAPT lawyers wrangled with the locals. By midday Saturday there had been no improvement, and several hours later the disappointing news was released that the entire event had been cancelled.
The LAPT organisers releasing a statement which said:
"The Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT) confirms that it is cancelling the poker tournament in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, due to an indefinite suspension served on one of its local partners.
"The LAPT states it has cooperated fully and in good faith with the requirements outlined by the Mexican government. The LAPT respects and abides by local regulations in each market.
"LAPT's partner in Mexico obtained a formal ruling from the Mexican Ministry of the Interior (SEGOB) allowing the event to take place. As the LAPT complied with every rule stipulated by the Code of the Mexican Federal Law of Games and Raffles, the reasons for suspension are being reviewed by lawyers of all parties."
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