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Play at the 2008 PokerStars LAPT Nuevo Vallarta tournament was suddenly stopped by gaming officials late on the first day of the event, leaving 89 players out of a field of 242 entrants wondering if they’d get to play on. The players were hurriedly ushered out of the tournament room, leaving their chips behind on the tables, after the tournament director announced that play was suspended until further notice. After the room was vacated there was no further news until near midnight a couple of hours later, when players were advised to return at noon on Saturday for an update.

Today, the Latin American Poker Tour released a statement that said it was canceling the tournament 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,” said the statement on the LAPT web site.

“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 compiled 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.”

At last word, the 89 players who were waiting to play out the tournament will each get $5,000 from the prize pool, with the remainder of the pool being distributed among the players based on chip count. Only 27 players would have cashed if the tournament had played to its conclusion. Tournament sponsor PokerStars has said it also will give each of the remaining players $500 in addition to their winnings from the prize pool.

Sponsored by PokerStars, the Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT) started in May 2008 in Brazil and has staged events in Rio de Janeiro, San José in Costa Rica and Punta del Este in Uruguay.