ANZPT Queenstown: Day 2 to burn bright but brief

australia_poker_tour.pngWhen I looked out my hotel room window this morning, I spotted a dump truck across the street. It was filled to the brim with recently-split firewood, likely culled from the dense forests of fir trees that carpet this corner of New Zealand. Almost every home and business in Queenstown, it seems, makes auspicious use of a fireplace. The sweet, smoky aroma of burning logs curling through the town is as much a part of life here as the skiing, snowboarding, quad-biking and late-night revelry.

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Fir-covered forests drape the mountains around Lake Wakatipu

The scent of wood smoke drifts into the SKYCITY Queenstown tournament room from time to time, as players in the ANZPT Queenstown Main Event slip out onto the smoking balcony for a quick second-story cigarette break. Perhaps today it will even flow from the 56 Day 1 survivors themselves, as they consider difficult decisions in their journey towards the final table.

Today's Day 2 promises to be a light day. Because the early Day 1 and 2 flight that played in Auckland last weekend stopped play with 35 minutes remaining in Level 9, that will be the schedule today here in Queenstown. Three full levels and 25 minutes of Level 9 will be played before the chip bags come out again. The 10-15 players expected to bust today will be replaced tomorrow for Day 3 by the 15 survivors from Auckland.

The man at the top of the pack right now is Michael Spilkin. We'll see if Spilkin's Day 1A good fortune holds after having a day off yesterday -- a day which he spent testing out the local luge track (really) and socializing with a large group of staff and players last night at a local establishment called Barmuda. He looks to be a Day 3 shoo-in, as do the rest of the Top 5 -- Mishel Anunu, Jackson Zheng, Jesse McKenzie and Koray Turker.

Until Day 3 there will be few worries. The players will have an early day of play today so that they can squeeze in some nighttime skiing at one of the area ski resorts. When the skiing ends, the drinking will begin. During winter in Queenstown, there's always a party or a friendly face waiting to have some fun with you.