By James Potter and Eliot James
Welcome all to the Pokerstars.net APPT SkyCity Auckland Festival of Poker Day 1A. It looks like we are well on our way to the NZD $1 million mark as we approach 180 players for Day 1A.
As the players drifted into the poker room, some looked fresh and rested; others looked like they may have really enjoyed last night’s welcoming party. The one thing that everyone had in common was they all looked eager and ready for some poker. The energy level built exponentially as we approached our kick-off time of 12:15pm local.
With players shuffling through the poker room here at SkyCity, a few names of note stand out – among those in the crowd are PokerStars Sponsored players Celina Lin, Tony Hachem and Emad Tahtouh, and Team PokerStars Pro Greg Raymer, all preparing for their Day 1. Many other well known players, such as Team PokerStars Pros Joe Hachem, and local legend Lee Nelson, will be waiting until Day 2A to take their seats.
Tournament Director Danny McDonagh is as busy and keen as ever, preparing to host what will be New Zealand’s largest ever event – in both player numbers and prizepool. Danny told us that he is excited to be running New Zealand’s first APPT event;
“The room here is really buzzing. Not only is it exciting to work in a room that is dedicated to poker, it is also great to be working with such a professional team. SkyCity is really leading the charge in this country when it comes to poker and they are going to break every record when it comes to a tournament here.“
The Main Event was opened with a powhiri, a traditional Maori welcome, which saw APPT President Jeffrey Haas and SkyCity Executive Manager Ejaaz Dean welcomed into the room. Keeping the energy high, a traditional haka was performed by a group of local Maori. The haka is a cultural icon of New Zealand, with its roots sunk deeply in the warrior culture of Maori tradition, giving a symbolic challenge from the local warriors to the incoming visitors. The challenge looks set to be answered by any number of eager players, ready to go to war over the felt.
PokerStars Pro Lee Nelson, being the country’s biggest poker celebrity, took time out from a ‘Learn to Play with the Pros’ seminar being hosted here at SkyCity and got the tournament underway with a traditional “shuffle up and deal!”.
The APPT usually has very friendly first days with only 7 levels usually being played. This will see a large contingency make it through to the Day 2. So buckle up for a long day guys and we will look to keep you up to date with all information, from both on and off the felt, as soon as it comes to hand.