Travel Journal: Queenstown

Queenstown, New Zealand. What a place. I had no idea I lived just a three-hour flight away from such a paradise on Earth. Last week, 127 poker players took their seats in the SKYCITY Queenstown Casino for the biggest poker tournament this little slice of heaven has ever seen. The Asia Pacific Poker Tour held its very own "Snowfest" in the Southern Hemisphere. The boutique casino had just seven poker tables, which forced the structure into a slow, stretched event with three Day 1s. A structure like this is exactly what you need when in a city like this. Queenstown has all you could ever want in a winter holiday, plus more. So with that, you don't want to be spending every single day and night in the casino!

Bungy jumping, snow boarding, jet-boating, paragliding, cruising down the peaceful lake in slow motion on a boat, indulging in some of the world's most extravagant day spas, sipping on the finest glass of local wine by an open fire or reading your book with a hot chocolate in hand while soaking up the breath-taking views - whatever tickles your fancy, you can do it perfectly in Queenstown.


Before the poker-action began, we took the camera around town to capture some of the magnificent sights, which you can witness here from Day 1a, but believe me when I tell you, nothing is as good as seeing this view in person.

Being as uneasy with heights as I am, I was not about to swing off of the ledge of a canyon or jump off Queenstown's cliffside for the videos, so instead I roped (pardon the pun) PokerStars Qualifier and well-known Australian poker-pro Grant Levy into doing it for us! The shots look awesome, especially his cheeky tongue-out while hanging in mid air after the leap. That guy's got guts!!

The main reason we were in Queenstown was of course the NZD $342,900 that was being battled for in the SKYCITY Queenstown Casino for the APPT Snowfest Main Event. After a relaxed-paced five days of play, we were left with nine players to fill out Sunday's Final Table, and what a table full of stories it was. You can hear all about them in the following preview.

So despite all those stories of the Australians, they actually all ended up busting in the first half of the day. We were then left with all three Kiwi's fighting against the lone German to keep the title on home soil once again as has happened for all of the past three seasons. Although one by one, they dropped off, including John Waterman - a PokerStars Freeroll Qualifier. That's right, freeroll qualifier. He managed to turn zero dollars and a little hard work on PokerStars and in the SKYCITY Queenstown Casino into more than NZD $35K with his third-place finish in this Main Event. It was then up to Matty Yates to do it for his country. He and German Marcel Schreiner danced with the chip lead throughout the entire final table, but in the end Germany took the title from the locals for the first time in New Zealand and Marcel Schreiner became our newest APPT Champion! Congratulations Marcel!

Lynn Gilmartin
@PokerStars in Asia Pacific Poker Tour