APPT Auckland: Big names set to shine through grey skies

They call New Zealand the "Land of the long white cloud". Well, today the city of Auckland is more representative of a long, rather threatening, grey cloud, as overcast conditions greet a new batch of arrivals for day 1b of the PokerStars.net APPT Auckland Main Event today. The threat of rain won't dampen the spirits of any players tucked safely inside the comfort of the SKYCITY Auckland Poker Room, as we set sail for another action-packed day of poker.

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Our hosts for the week are the SKYCITY Casino in Auckland

Today's field will feature a couple of the bigger names in poker in this region. Team PokerStars Pro Tony Hachem has jumped out of his big brother's shadow to confirm himself as one of the finest and most consistent players on the tournament circuit over the last few years. His fellow Team PokerStars Pro, and local Kiwi, Lee Nelson has been the model of consistency in this game for well over a decade - you don't earn the nickname "Final Table" for nothing. Having said that, Nelson will be looking to survive a little longer today than last year, when he was on the wrong end of a quads versus full house cooler on just the second hand of the day. Although Nelson still speaks with an American twang, there's no doubting that Nelson's heart lies in New Zealand and he's always proud to represent when this tournament rolls into town.

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Lee Nelson - when a man is ready to "Kill Everyone" you know he means business

However the man they are all talking about is young gun Simon Watt who has taken the poker world by storm since winning this title twelve months ago. During the winter months Watt took his talents over to the World Series of Poker and beat the best in the world to capture New Zealand's first ever WSOP bracelet. He has put New Zealand firmly on the poker map and will be doing his best to create history again today as he looks to become the first player to successfully defend his title at an APPT stop.

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Simon Watt will be hoping to amass just as many chips today

We're expecting a big day of action with seven levels of play, kicking off at 12:15pm local time. We look forward to your company throughout the day on the PokerStars Blog.