Queenstown Snowfest: Kiwi redemption
We've already talked about the history of this event and, as an Aussie, it would be a shame for me to neglect to point out that the Kiwis are yet to actually win this tournament on their home turf. Ahhh, the Trans-Tasman rivalry is alive and well.
But it's a record that the Kiwis will be desperate to change at the Queenstown Snowfest this year.
Last year, the Day 1a field was dominated by the Kiwis as Cole Swannack, Koray Turker and Jackson Zheng led the end-of-day chip counts. We've counted a total of 21 Kiwis in today's Day 1a field of 51 players, representing just 41% of the entrants. Today's line up is predominantly online qualifiers, so perhaps we'll see more locals and casino satellite winners in the coming days.
Swannack and Zheng are both here again today as they look to replicate their Day 1a form of last year.
Swannack doesn't play too many events on the circuit but has amassed nearly US$200,000 in career earnings, highlighted by his 3rd place finish at the 2010 APPT Macau Main Event.
As we already mentioned, Swannack was the Day 1a chip leader last year and looked dangerous before scraping into the money with a min-cash for 15th place. He'll be looking for redemption and is already off to a fast start today with an early double up.
Zheng is an Aussie Millions gold ring winner and best known for his back-to-back wins in the New Zealand Poker Open Main Event in 2010 and 2011.
Zheng went on to finish in a frustrating 10th place last year. It's a result he was hoping to better this year, but unfortunately Zheng was a recent casualty from the Day 1a field.
Another familiar Kiwi we spotted in today's field is Richard Lancaster.
Lancaster has a final table result at the 2009 Auckland Main Event, and also finished in 12th place at the 2011 ANZPT Perth, but his best poker result was actually online. He finished 3rd in the PokerStars Sunday Million for US$130,425 in February 2011, playing under the online handle "richiebro".
Lancaster is one of the most qualified Kiwis to make a big run at the title here, and currently sits well-placed with a stack of 50,000. Only problem is that he probably has the worst seat in the room with the red-hot Mishel Anunu and WSOPE bracelet winner Andy Hinrichsen seated to his direct left.
We'll be keeping a close eye on the progress of the locals throughout the week as they look to finally keep the trophy (or the pieces of it that Robin Lim hasn't broken in his airplane luggage) on home soil.