APPT Auckland: Full wrap-up, local champion crowned at SkyCity Casino.

Well the party is over, we have crowned our champion, Kiwi Daniel Craker, and now it is time to reflect on yet another great event from the Asian Pacific Poker Tour. The APPT Auckland SkyCity Festival of Poker has certainly rocketed poker’s profile in the country. SkyCity Auckland has smashed all records here in New Zealand and can now lay claim to being the home of poker here.

Winner_01.jpg APPT Auckland 2008 Main Event Champion, Daniel Craker of New Zealand.

New Zealand is a wonderful country full of natural wonders and incredible culture. Adding to this is the warmth of the locals making it such an inviting place to come. Whether bungee jumping off the Sky Tower or sampling some of the finest cuisines in the world is more to your liking, players from throughout Asia, Pacific, and indeed the entire globe, have enjoyed the wonders of the Land of the Long White Cloud, Aotearoa, New Zealand.

SkyCity is one of the friendliest Casinos we have reported from and all the players will walk away from this experience raving about the standard of service they have received here. The poker here has been nothing short of amazing with some of the world’s best flying in to enjoy all that was on offer. Team PokerStars Pros Joe Hachem, Greg Raymer and local celebrity Lee Nelson were all here and spent time out of their busy schedules, not only to play the game they love, but to spend their time with other players and the many fans that have flocked into the Festival.


SkyCity Executive Manager of Table Games, Ejaaz Dean, awarding the cheque to APPT Auckland Champion Daniel Craker.

Notable Sydney duo and sponsored PokerStars players Eric Assadourian and Grant Levy have both had good weeks and showed that they are also great ambassadors of poker. Assadourian and Levy went head to head in the $550 Pot Limit Omaha side event during the series, taking an hour and a half to find a winner, with Assadourian finally taking first and $12,000 NZD, while Levy pocketed himself $7,500 NZD.

Eric As 01.jpg

PokerStars Sponsored Player Eric Assadourian.

While the remaining few players continued in the Main Event, the table next to it saw the High Rollers event in an epic heads up battle between Carter Gill and Michael Long, both from the USA. Finally it was Carter Gill who triumphed and took away $83,000 NZD for his troubles.


The final five from the APPT Auckland High Rollers. Winner, Carter Gill, on the far right.

From a local perspective we had the antics of James “Paddywhack” Honeybone and his side-kick Chris Walton who both made Day 2 of the Main Event and showed some real New Zealand flair. The duo were often spotted wrapped in New Zealand flags or, for an appealing alternative, flanked by girls behind them holding the flags up.


Chris Walton and James Honeybone, pictured with James' girlfriend Christina.

The final table of the main event was the real highlight as locals packed the into the SkyCity Poker Room to watch Daniel Craker from Wellington, New Zealand, walk away with $257,040 NZD and the title of the APPT Auckland 2008 Main Event Champion. Daniel will be a great ambassador and it was fantastic to see the title (and the cash) stay in New Zealand. South Korean born New Zealander, Wang Che Jung, 3rd place, and Australain Matthew Konnecke, 2nd place, also performed amazingly throughout the event and it was a pleasure to watch them play.


The local crowd packs into SkyCity Casino Auckland to watch the Final Table battle.

The pressure was intense and even though we got to the final table quite quickly it was a hard fought event. Once the play was down to four handed things moved slowly and the action became steady and serious as the players came to terms with how close they really were to holding the first New Zealand Main Event title for the APPT Series.

Ultimately it was New Zealander Daniel Craker who took down the title. Craker won his entry into the event at SkyCity Casino for just $80 in the very last satellite tournament held in the poker room. After winning the main event, Craker said of his victory "I didn't get much sleep last night, I felt that I played flawless poker yesterday but didn't really play that well today. When I got lucky and made two pair with my king-deuce I felt as if I had nothing to lose. I'm not sure what I am going to do now, but I know I'm going to go and celebrate tonight with my Wainuiomata mates!"

So now we move our attention to Manila in the Philippines for the next leg of APPT Season 2. APPT Manila is always one of my favorite events. If you are looking to immerse yourself in one of the most fascinating countries in the world for some culture mixed with your poker then put this one on your list of must attend events. PokerStars, as always, is running a myriad of different satellites for all bankrolls so there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to join the team over there for Season 2 of the APPT Manila, the tour that brings world class poker to exotic travel locations.

Well that’s all we have for you Auckland, congrats to Daniel Craker, our APPT Auckland Main Event Champion and from the PokerStars blogging team we look forward to bringing you all the action from Manila.