Leaving the heat wave in Melbourne we joked about how we were heading to Perth this week for some cooler weather. Arriving in Perth in the middle of a 30-something degree February afternoon, our cabbie kindly reminded us of our Southern roots, preferring the natural warmth of a wound-down window to the soothing comforts of the air-con that we have grown to love.
While it's hard to read too much into a cab driver's arm resting outside the car window, it's symbolic of the vibe that you get when you arrive in the West. The people have a relaxed charm about them, giving off a warmth of their own, as they seem freed from the stresses of life to make the most of the perfect climate and great outdoors.
And you can understand why, as Western Australia is home to some of the most scenic locations in the world. From the rugged outback in the north to the stunning beaches within close reach of the blossoming CBD.
It's certainly a lengthy trip to head West to one of the world's most remote cities, but there are few who would say the trip is not worthwhile, with many of the players this week at the ANZPT already talking about their time away from the felt. The beaches have already been enjoyed, while there are talks of fishing trips, crabbing trips, golf, street basketball and an indoor cricket match this afternoon that is set to reignite the great "East versus West" rivalry. We'll have a little more about those adventures throughout the week.
We'll also have updates from inside the newly renovated Crown Perth complex. Since last year there are plenty of new restaurants and bars for us to check out, with a lot more construction still in the works. Once it's complete, Perth will be home to one of the most impressive casinos and hotel complexes in the country.
The Poker Room itself is in its same home, but a sprinkling of poker tables out on the main gaming floor will give us three different locations to bring you action from the ANZPT Perth Main Event. That could prove challenging, but it enables the game of poker to be brought out amongst the people as they watch some of the best players in Australia and New Zealand take part in the region's premier poker tour.
This event is the third on the Season 5 schedule after previous stops in Melbourne and Auckland. Last year we saw Mat Carlsson emerge as our ANZPT Perth champion over a field of 310 players to take the $78,275 first-place prize. However the buy-in has been doubled to $2,200 this year, which should see a reduction in players but a likely increase in the prize pool. Will Carlsson be among them?
We know that if he is to defend his title, it won't be easy with many of the region's best players already in town. Dan Neilson, Kristian Lunardi, James Broom, Liam O'Rourke, Tristan Bain, Michael Chrisanthopoulos, Ricky Kroesen, Aussie Millions champ David Gorr and WSOP-E bracelet winner Andrew Hinrichsen have led the charge from the Eastern states, while Team PokerStars will also be well represented by Singapore's Bryan Huang and Mexico's Angel Guillen.
It all gets under way at 7:00pm (GMT+8) on Wednesday evening. We'll be bringing you stories from both on and off the felt throughout the week, while our friends at PokerNews bring you live updates and videos interviews in what should be an exciting week on the felt!