Queenstown Snowfest: The snowball effect
Over the past three years, the Queenstown Snowfest event has snowballed from humble beginnings into one of the premier events on the Australasian poker calendar.
The inaugural Queenstown event was part of the Australia New Zealand Poker Tour (ANZPT) in 2009. A field of 134 players descended upon the snow-capped town with snowboards in hand as Queenstown played host to a major poker tournament for the very first time.
Danny Chevalier was victorious over young gun Andy Hinrichsen to pocket NZ$87,435 in prize money.
In 2010 it was Julian Cohen who continued the Aussie dominance with victory over a field of 119 players. Cohen pocketed NZ$73,630 for the win as Australians took the top five finishing spots. Andrew Watson, Vesko Zmukic, Mike Spilkin, Jason Gray, John Maklouf and Team PokerStars Pro Bryan Huang were also part of a stacked final table lineup.
Last year it was Marcel Schreiner who flew in to town to take the title back to Germany. It was the first time the Queenstown event was classed as part of the APPT, and it attracted an international field as Schreiner defeated a healthy turnout of 127 entries, and Kiwi Matty Yates heads up, to collect NZ$94,300 in prize money. Daniel Laidlaw, Tom Grigg, Hugh Cohen and Jonathan Karamalikis were also part of the final table.
Whoever takes down the title this year will probably lock up a six-figure pay day as we are on track to set a new record for this event. APPT head honcho Danny McDonagh has confirmed that we're already sitting at 130 confirmed entrants, which is more than last year's total, with several additional direct buy-ins expected over the next two days. It's a great show of support for the popularity of this stop on the tour, that it will show a growth in numbers where most events around the world have either hit a plateau or dropped in numbers in recent times.
This year's event is also unique as it fills several important voids. The event forms part of the New Zealand Poker Tour (NZPT), the Australia New Zealand Poker Tour (ANZPT) and is the first event of Season 6 of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT). So that means the winner of this tournament will instantly become a triple crown winner! (credit Didier Guerin)
To save the confusion, we'll just refer to this event as the Queenstown Snowfest, although this week, that name is also a little misleading. In the past, we've arrived to see snow covering all corners of the town, but due to a recent run of unseasonably mild weather, most of the snow has actually melted from the city and surrounding mountains. Skiers shouldn't be concerned though, as the major ski resorts are still bustling with activity, with plenty of runs open and ample opportunity for players to break a few limbs or fall off the edge of a mountain.