Queenstown: The hidden gem of the APPT
Today marks an historic day for poker in Asia. It is the first day of Season 6 of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour. The tour which has broken new ground for the development of the game, exposing poker to a new breed of players and visiting exciting destinations throughout Australia, New Zealand, Macau, Korea and the Philippines.
I've been lucky to be there for most of it, as have many of the tour's regulars. But if you asked them to pick a favourite poker destination, then the humble little town of Queenstown would have to be close to the top of that list.
For me personally, it's now my number one stop, so it's a pleasure to be back here to bring you updates throughout the week from the Queenstown Snowfest Main Event from the SKYCITY Queenstown Casino.
So what makes this place so special?
It is one of the most picturesque towns you'll ever see. The cute city laneways, set on the crystal-clear waters of Lake Wakatipu, and surrounded by the snow capped mountain ranges of the Remarkables. This place was built to keep postcard makers pretty busy.
But its beauty and tranquillity belies its reputation as the extreme sports capital of the world. If there's a bridge or a cliff face, you can be assured that you can tie a rope around your ankles and fling yourself off it! Perhaps that will be therapy for some of our players this week.
Besides being the home of the bungy jump, Queenstown also offers jet-boating, quad-biking, paragliding, white-water rafting, luging, and of course, plenty of skiing and snowboarding. If that's a little fast-paced for you then there are plenty of great walks, cruises, spas and golf courses. And if golf is just a good walk ruined for you, then you can join Danny McDonagh this week for the hotly-contested PokerStars Frisbee Golf World Championships (must be hungover to be allowed to compete).
But if there's one thing you must do this week, then take the gondola ride to the top of Bob's Peak to soak up a view like this:
Queenstown is also renowned for its fantastic restaurants and bars. No doubt Flame and Botswana Butchery will be getting a visit this week, and for an after-hours feed, you can't beat Fergburger. On our way to our hotel from the airport, our cab driver explained to us that the owner of Fergburger had received multiple offers from investors looking to franchise his wonderfully-popular burger joint around the country. Apparently the owner isn't interested in expansion, and is happy to keep Fergburger unique to Queenstown.
That's why we love this place.
Queenstown is one of New Zealand's most popular tourist destinations, with just 14,000 locals sharing the area with over two million visitors each and every year. And it's not hard to see why.
In between activities there is a little poker tournament to be won as the SKYCITY Queenstown Casino will once again be our hosts for the next week. There are three day one flights for the NZ$3,000 Main Event, but the word is that numbers are looking very good, so a field over 150 players is expected.
Among them will be the likes of Team PokerStars Pro Bryan Huang, WSOPE bracelet winner Andy Hinrichsen, Australian Poker Hall of Famer Billy Argyros and ANZ Player of the Year points leader Anthony Aston.
We're looking forward to a fantastic week here, and we can't wait to share it all with you back home.
Stay locked into the PokerStars blog as Day 1a action kicks off at 12:30pm (GMT+12).