Years before the Aussie Millions was conceived, our best players were regularly jetting across the Tasman Sea to contest the New Zealand Poker Championships in Christchurch Casino.
The welcoming atmosphere created by the staff and management at Christchurch Casino combined with the attractions of the city and the surrounding Canterbury region made the NZ Champs a must for players across the region.
As we all know, Christchurch was hit by a pair of devastating earthquakes – the first in September 2010 which caused extensive damage before a second on February 22 last year, resulting in the death of 185 people. The city still bears the deep scars of the quakes but the hardy folk of Christchurch have picked up the pieces and the city is slowly getting back to normal.
Christchurch Casino closed for a short time after last year’s quake but the building escaped serious damage and it was business as normal in time for last year’s series in which Jamil Dia became the first player to win Aussie Millions and NZ Poker Champs main event titles.
Eight years earlier, Dia was the first New Zealander to win the title after Aussies Martin Comer, Gerry Fitt and Leo Boxell had claimed the first three titles (1999-2001) before US visitor Matthew Hilger triumphed in 2002. Dia was back at the final table in 2004 but Andrew Dimock improved on his sixth-place of 2003 to claim the title, then another well known NZ poker identity, Constantin Harach, added his name to the honour roll in 2005.
In the wake of Joe Hachem’s win in the 2005 WSOP main event, suddenly everyone wanted to play Texas Hold’em and the NZ Champs was one of the region’s main beneficiaries. The buy-in was back to NZD $1350, the field surpassed 100 for the first time and the new generation were out in force to challenge the old guard. NZ-based Englishman Alan Goodrum recovered from a huge chip deficit at the final table to overtake Sydney’s Nick Nicolaou to win NZD $62,000 plus a WSOP Main Event seat.
The prize pool more than doubled for the 2007 NZ Champs Main Event, as Eric Assadourian became the first Aussie in six years to win the title. Having clawed his way back from the felt, the Sydneysider became the first player to win a six-figure prize in New Zealand as he outlasted rising young local star Richard Grace heads-up. One of Assadourian’s closest mates, David Borg, joined the defending champ for the trip to Christchurch Casino last year, and returned home with the title.
For a time, it seemed that Tony Hachem would break through for his first major title, but Borg took a massive chip lead into their heads-up battle and claimed the $100,000 first prize. Borg was back in the heads-up contest for the Main Event title 12 months later but fell one spot short as locally based Dane Soren Eriksen emerged victorious. Amazingly, Eriksen would go back-to-back in taking out the 2010 title.
The 2012 NZ Poker Champs is scheduled for August 18-26 and comprises one of the extensive line-up of events ever offered. Traditional events such as the Canterbury, South Island and Women’s Championships (NLHE), the NZ Pot Limit Omaha Championship and the Minh Tran Memorial Two-card Manila will again be offered.
There are also a pair of NLHE Turbo tournaments and an NLHE Repechage leading up to the $1650 buy-in NZPC Main Event on August 25-26. Keep an eye on PMA for more details about the 2012 NZPC in coming months.
2012 NZ Poker Champs schedule (buy-ins $NZD)
August 18 (11.30am) $220 NZPC No Limit Hold’em Women’s Championship (capped at 60 players)
August 19 (11.30am) $440 Welcome to the 2012 NZPC No Limit Hold’em Turbo (capped at 60 players)
August 20 (11.30am) $550 NZPC No Limit Hold’em Repechage flight 1 (capped at 60 players)
August 20 (7pm) $330 NZPC’s Minh Tran Memorial Two-card Manila (capped at 40 players)
August 21 (11.30am) $550 NZPC No Limit Hold’em Repechage flight 2 (capped at 60 players)
August 21 (7pm) $550 NZ Pot Limit Omaha Championship (second chance format; capped at 40 players)
August 22 (11.30am) $550 NZPC No Limit Hold’em Repechage flight 3 (capped at 60 players)
August 22 (6.45pm) $550 NZPC No Limit Hold’em Repechage final
August 23 (11.30am) $660 Canterbury Championship No Limit Hold’em (capped at 80 players)
August 23 (7pm) $120 South Island Champs satellite w/ $50 rebuys (capped at 30 players)
August 24 (11.30am) $880 South Island Championship No Limit Hold’em (capped at 80 players)
August 24 (7pm) $120 NZPC Main Event satellite w/ $50 rebuys (capped at 30 players)
August 25 (11.30am) $1650 NZPC Main Event day 1 (capped at 80 players)
August 26 (12.30pm) $1650 NZPC Main Event day 2
August 26 (1pm) $440 Farewell to 2012 NZPC No Limit Hold’em Turbo (capped at 60 players)