ANZPT Auckland: Kia Ora!

Kia Ora! Welcome to Auckland!

We're here this week for the first stop on Season 6 of the Australia New Zealand Poker Tour (ANZPT) and what a great pleasure it is to start off a new season here in Auckland.

We always land in New Zealand in great spirits. I'm not sure what it is about the local people, but they always bring a charming and chipper personality to everything they do which is uplifting for new visitors. It even starts before you land, at least if you're flying Air New Zealand who are renowned for their entertaining safety demonstration videos. I was welcomed by this Betty White doozy:

Even when you land, the taxi drivers are ridiculously friendly. As I habitually clambered into the back seat, the driver chirped, "You can ride in the front if you want bro, eh?". Southern hospitality.

The discussion of course turned to the weather, as it does on most taxi rides in a new country. I've come across the Tasman Sea from a Melbourne climate which has jumped around between torrential rain, disgusting winds and oppressive heat.

"It's been perfect here all week, eh?" said the cabbie as I raised an eyebrow and looked out the window at the thick, low-lying white clouds that stretched as far as I could see.

Perhaps cloudy was his idea of perfect. We are in the "Land of the Long White Cloud" after all. I got the feeling that it didn't matter what the weather was like, these guys simply embrace the day as it comes.


Another "perfect" day in Auckland

We arrived at our destination, and I was too scared to look at the final number on the meter as I handed over a credit card (Travel tip: consider a shuttle bus if you don't like expensive cab rides). The SKYCITY Auckland Casino greeted us and will be our home for the next week as the ANZPT Auckland event takes centre stage.

It's been three years since I was last here in Auckland. I remember it quite well as an eccentric character by the name of Brotha D burst onto the scene with a sensational victory. I also remember my laptop frying and having to work the entire event with my laptop in "safe" mode, but that's another story. Before that, I've seen Daniel Craker and WSOP bracelet winner Simon Watt claim victories in this poker room. Then last year, I missed out on seeing Geoff Smith win one of the fastest final tables ever witnessed.

We haven't seen Daniel Craker or even Simon Watt on the scene for some time, and I believe Geoff Smith will also be missing this year. Will we uncover a new poker champion of New Zealand in this event?

Keep your browser locked into the PokerStars Blog throughout the week as we bring you the stories both on and off the felt, while the guys at PokerNews provide the live hand updates in the section at the top of the page. Day 1a of the ANZPT Auckland Main Event kicks off at 12:30pm (GMT+12). Stay tuned!

Heath "TassieDevil" Chick is a Freelance Contributor for the PokerStars Blog.

@PokerStars in Auckland