APPT Auckland: Kiwi pride fills the poker room

By James Potter and Eliot James

There is a big charge of local hopefuls here taking on the world. We all know the exploits of Team PokerStars Pro Lee Nelson but we would like to introduce you to some of New Zealand’s biggest names and best poker players who are battling it out on Day 1B of the APPT Auckland SkyCity Festival of Poker:

James “Paddywhack” Honeybone is New Zealand’s newest poker sensation. This lovable teddy bear turns into a shark when he is at the table. Honeybone has a final table at APPT Seoul in Season 1 and has travelled the globe getting some excellent results.

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James 'Paddywhack' Honeybone - where are MY flag waving girls?

If Honeybone represents the new then some may venture to say that Graeme ‘Kiwi G’ Putt may represent the old. But don’t let this friendly ‘grandfather figure’ of a poker champion fool you. We don’t have enough time to tell you the poker exploits of Kiwi G but he has been considered one of the region's greatest poker players for many decades.

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Local legend, Graeme 'Kiwi G' Putt, and his furry friend.

New Zealand born Shane Dye is one of the regions finest jockeys. Not only has he ridden multiple group 1 winners he is also an accomplished poker player. When he returned from a riding stint in Hong Kong he started his love affair with the game and has recently won two tournaments at Sydney’s Star City Casino, which is the home of the APPT Final in Sydney later this year.

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Jockey Shane Dye assesses the track conditions of today's play.

Auckland born Brooke Howard-Smith has returned to New Zealand after growing up in the United States. Co-hosting New Zealand television show ‘Joker Poker’ with Team PokerStars Pro Lee ‘Final Table’ Nelson, Howard-Smith has been a keen poker player for the past nine years, having been one of the early pupils of the hold-em boom. Howard-Smith speaks highly of Nelson’s love of the game: ‘Lee is like the crack rock of poker, he has such a passion for the game and passes that passion on to others. You can’t be around him and not develop a love for the game.’

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Joker Poker co-host and local celebrity Brooke Howard-Smith.

Mike King, New Zealand comedian and television personality, has been a keen hold-em player for the past three years and a Manila player for a decade before that. King has been a regular sight at local poker tables and has had some great success in local tournaments. Currently working on a New Zealand documentary on the Treaty of Waitangi, as well as his local comedy gigs, King commented “I’ve got a gig tomorrow night that I’m hoping I have to cancel”, as he cracked his trademark grin.

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Local celebrity Mike King.

With the local talent packed into the tables, there will be a number of strong contenders looking to making the APPT Auckland Main Event a New Zealand title. We will be keeping you posted with updates as we track our local boys through the course of the day!