The World Series of Poker (WSOP) might have kicked off in Las Vegas, but Kiwi grinders are preparing for the 2017 Auckland Poker Championships.

Auckland Poker Championships

SKYCITY is set to host one of its biggest tournaments when the 2017 Auckland Poker Championships gets underway. (Image: booking.com)

Hosted by SKYCITY Casino, the NZ$2,200 (AU$2,100) tournament will see Day 1A take place on June 2 before Day 1B kicks off a June 3. With tournament season well underway and Australasian players looking to sharpen their skills before a trip to Vegas, the organisers are expecting a big turnout.

Buy-in Set to Bring Out the Masses

Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, SKYCITY Senior Gaming Operations Manager Martin Coughlan said around 800 players have already taken part in satellites.

In fact, with live poker currently thriving in New Zealand, Coughlan wanted to ensure the event offered enough value for novices and professional players.

“With the 2017 Auckland Poker Championships we wanted to up the ante with a main event buy-in that would attract top local and international players and result in a more attractive prizepool,” Coughlan told the Herald.

If Coughlan gets the level of interest he’s expecting, the prizepool could top $300,000 which would be huge for New Zealand’s live tournament scene.

Back in November 2016, the SKYCITY Festival of Poker became one of the largest events in the country with 108 players paying AU$1,570 to help generate an AU$170,300 prizepool.

This time around, Coughlan believes the increased buy-in will bring out more players and push things to a new level. Helping to bolster the appeal of the event as a whole will be an AU$420 Deep Stack.

Set to take place on June 5, the tournament will feature 30-minute blind levels and players will start with 16,000 chips.

NZ Poker on the Up

Although the 2017 Auckland Poker Championships might be small in comparison to similar events held in Europe and the US, the economy is improving. If the main event can post the numbers those involved expect, it would become one of the biggest events of the year.

In fact, with poker on the up, more players from New Zealand are now breaking through on the world stage. David Yan, who has posted big results on the European Poker Tour, the WSOP and Aussie Millions, is currently leading the New Zealand all-time money list with more than AU$4.8 million in prize money.

Also making something a name for himself at the WSOP in 2016 was Jan Suchanek. After making it through to Day 6 of the Main Event and into the top 10, he found himself out of luck against US pro Tom Marchese.

Despite covering his opponent, Suchanek’s A Q was beaten by Marchese’s A 7 on a J 6 5 Q 10 board. Soon after losing the majority of his stack, Suchanek was sent to the rail in 49th place, but not before he picked up AU$147,100 and the honour of being one of the top Kiwi performers in WSOP history.

The eventual winner of the 2017 Auckland Poker Championships might not win quite as much as Suchanek did at the WSOP, but the event should still be something of a milestone for NZ poker.

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