Kia ora! Welcome to the third event of Season Four of the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour coming to you live from SKYCITY Casino in Auckland, New Zealand!
One of the youngest and most remote cities in the world, Auckland provides a unique backdrop for a major poker event, bringing all the charm and personality of a local town wrapped up in the hussle and bussle of an International metropolis.
Usually the cab ride from airport to city is nothing more than a six-lane mega-freeway, but in Auckland the experience is more reminiscent of a tour bus winding through suburbia than the country’s largest city. The people are friendly and the cabbies are usually a wealth of information. Such is the laid back, relaxed nature of the locals, that our driver’s most pressing political issue was the potential for a fee to be introduced to access the local swimming pools.
Soon you’ll make your way to the central business district and quickly find your bearings as the infamous Sky Tower provides an ever-present beacon to direct weary travellers safely home at the end of a long day (or night!). The 328-metre tower is the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere and has become an iconic structure in Auckland’s skyline. With the SKYCITY Casino nestled at its base, the tower will also become a popular outlet for de-tilt over the next week as many poker players will take the leap of faith on the 192-metre “SkyJump”.
While New Zealand is still considered a young country in many respects, over the last twelve months, poker in New Zealand has started to come of age. This time last year a young software developer from Auckland named Simon Watt shone brightly above a field of 263 players to capture the PokerStars.net APPT Auckland Main Event crown and a handsome NZ$209,000 payday. Simon then proved he was no one-hit wonder, as he cemented his place in New Zealand poker history when he captured the nation’s first ever World Series of Poker bracelet. And it wasn’t just any old bracelet. Simon defeated online phenom Tom “durrrr” Dwan in one of the most eagerly-watched final tables of all time. Most youngsters would let such accomplishments go to their head, but Simon remains one of the most approachable, modest and genuine people in the industry. In 2005 Australia experienced a poker “boom” following Joe Hachem’s WSOP heroics. Are we about to witness a similar boom in 2010 here in New Zealand?
We’ll soon find out as the 2010 PokerStars.net APPT Auckland Main Event is about to kick off from the SKYCITY Auckland poker room. The best players in Australia and New Zealand, including Team PokerStars pros Tony Hachem and Lee Nelson, will be joined by a swarm of overseas PokerStars qualifiers for one of the most fiercely contested events in Australasia. Stay tuned to the PokerStars Blog over the next week to watch it all unfold!