LG... Life's Good
I’ve just returned home to Melbourne after covering the ANZPT in Sydney, Australia’s unofficial capital city. It’s the largest, and prettiest artificial eye-candy that Australia has to offer. While the natural beauty of the northern beaches of Australia are what really make this country famous, the stunning Sydney harbor with its extravagant architecture lining the magnificent water that streams throughout the neighbourhoods full of multi-million-dollar waterfront homes, really set Sydney as a town of glamour.
The day before a tournament starts is always my favourite, as that gives the video team our sole opportunity to soak up a week’s worth of Vitamin D as we tour the destination, catching as many sights through the lens as possible. Our tour of Sydney began on the Sydney Ferry – a public ferry that offers the best view of Sydney, making it my #1 recommendation to any visitor. You can catch the ferry from various spots throughout town, particularly the Pyrmont dock, just outside The Star.
We took the ferry around to Circular Quay to visit The Rocks, a preserved, historic area next that’s been transformed into a quaint, hippy neighbourhood full of pubs, cafes and markets. Having breakfast here on a sunny morning is one of my favourite things to do in Sydney.
If you didn't catch the tour video in my last blog post, you can check out these sights, and more, in the following video.
Every poker tournament run by PokerStars always comes with the added bonus of a player party complete with an open bar. This video shows just some of the antics that can come with said open bar.
The ANZPT’s fourth season kicked off with a bang, coming so close to breaking the record for this event at The Star Casino with 461 players each paying up $2,200 to play the Main Event. Almost AUD $1 million was collected, and dispersed amongst 54 lucky players who made it to the top 12%. After 29 one-hour levels spread across three days, and an epic final table that didn’t finish until well into the wee hours of the next morning, it was Gordon Huntly who defeated the lot. I had a chat with him, admittedly quite bleary eyed, after his win.
I've been trying to hold back on instagram-ing (follow me @lynngilmartin) too many pics of Sydney so that I don't drive everyone crazy - but I just love this place it's so hard not to! Sydney is definitely one of the world's most stunning cities - even when you fly in you can see exactly how gorgeous it is with a birds-eye view of the water canals lacing throughout the big city. If you've never been here, (or even if you have) then check out my quick tour around the main spots of town to see just some of the reasons why I love it so much!
I was faced with one of the toughest decisions of my week today. The decision of what the hell I was going to eat when I stepped inside the food haven that is Westfield Pitt Street's Food Court.
Angel and I were absolutely starving as we began our first afternoon in Sydney. After taking the ever-so-handy monorail to Pitt Street Mall, we were passing by Westfield and stopped at a small door with nothing but a gigantic, one-way escalator that seemed to go for days.
We were expressed to the mall's fifth floor, which opened up to a low ceilinged level with dim lighting. Apart from the burst of pink hitting us in the face thanks to the Priceline in the corner, we were surrounded by the most elegant, classy, modern and unique restaurants and food stands. The two of us walked three laps of this food court, turning around, and back again, in amazement of the ART that was on display. This is a FOOD COURT?
Me: It's not just sushi that offers awesome assortment sampler packs. The vegan store Iku, which is full of all-natural goodness, offered up this awesome sample pack ($10) of their rice balls, polenta slices and more. It was so fresh, healthy and super tasty. I topped it off with some fruit and yoghurt with toasted muesli ($6) from Top Juice. How could I not after seeing this colourful display?
Angel: His choice wasn't nearly as guilt-free as mine, but it was still pretty awesome! A Chorizo Hot Dog from the Snag Stand - the bread these guys use for their hot dogs is beyond incredible.
Call me crazy, but yes, I dedicated this entire blog to the food court. It's THAT good. Now if only I had a better camera than my iPhone to take pics!
UPDATE 22 MARCH
We had to go again... Couldn't resist! This time the choice was Ragu Pasta & Wine Bar for some yummy Italian food. I went with the prawn salad ($12) and the tuna a rice salad ($12) - both delicious!
I’m finally home in Melbourne, Australia, after the busiest two months of my life, including one heck of a November to remember. Last week, the PokerNews Live Reporting Team was in Sydney for the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour Grand Final.
Despite numbers dropping from last year, this was one quality field, and the final table could not have proven that any more than it did last Sunday. Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu and his travel-buddy, 2007 APPT Manila Champion Eddy Sabat, both made it to the final nine, along with Aussie-loving Brit Roland de Wolfe and 2010 WPT Grand Prix de Paris runner-up Antoine Amourette. For the Aussies, though, the biggest highlight was Jonathan "xMONSTERxDONGx" Karamalikis who not only joined the star-studded final table, but also crushed his way to victory.
A Main Event can never happen without a party to lubricate everyone before the tough week ahead. Some arrived fresh off Bondi Beach, others arrived fresh out of a spray-tan booth (refer to Daniel Negreanu's tan-line below); and when prawns are firing up on the barbecue, what better place would there be than the APPT Welcome Party to showcase some of Australia’s finest vocabulary?
There is no doubt in saying that Karamalikis is a ridiculously good poker player both online and live, and he continues to prove it over and over again. He is also quite a veteran on the old joystick (there’s a flashback to 1995) when it comes to NBA Jam. One thing he and Daniel Neilson could take a few lessons on, though, is cleaning their rooms.
For a light break from the xMONSTERxDONGx show, please enjoy some gorgeous pictures of the stunning city that is Sydney. I literally fell in love with this place – I always say there is no other place in the world besides Melbourne that I want to live, but Sydney has now crept up on my extremely small “maybe list.” Oh, and look at that, an unavoidable Dong reference crept up in the photos too.
So now it’s back to the Monster Dongination. I wonder what it’s like to be Jonathan Karamalikis. Catching your two-outer when your kings run into aces. Claiming the prestigious APPT Grand Final title from one of the best final tables seen in 2010? Drinking "Dong-Perignon" straight from the bottle knowing you’re about to cash out of that casino for almost half a million Australian dollars. It must be nice. Although, there were other players in the Main Event – 289 of them in fact. So here is a quick snapshot of the fantastic week we had in Sydney. I hope you enjoyed our live coverage as always, and if you were crazy enough not to follow as we covered the event, then the following video will be the fastest and most enjoyable way to catch up!
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Sydney, Australia’s unofficial capital, is the oldest, largest and most extravagant city in my home country. I’ve been all around the world, yet up until last December, I had freakishly never been to Sydney. I finally had the opportunity for the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour Grand Final, and with the days flying by so fast, I cannot believe that time has come around once again.
Sydney is a city that draws you outside, whether it be for surfing at Bondi Beach, sailing under the Harbor Bridge, jogging (or even horse riding) through Centennial Park, shopping in Paddington, or simply having a drink while overlooking the Sydney Opera House. It would be a waste to spend too long indoors, except for going deep in the APPT Main Event!
I have to say that Melbourne definitely wins for the people and atmosphere of Australian cities (call me biased), but Sydney offers some serious eye-candy along the Harbor and at Bondi Beach, and I’m not just talking about the Aussie chicks. There’s a free ferry that takes you along the Sydney Harbor from the dock just outside the Star City Casino over to the Sydney Opera House. The views are stunning.
Unfortunately, in typical southeastern Australia summer fashion, my experience last year of Bondi was attacked by some unexpected torrential rain, so I am excited to revisit for another attempt at checking out one of Australia’s most popular beaches, and you definitely should, too.
- Weather: averages at a perfect 25°C (77°F)
- Currency: Australian Dollars are almost equal to USD right now
- Language: I feel the need to include this because a couple of Americans had been surprised at how good my English was when they found out I was Australian -- I’m not kidding. We’re pretty much all English, folks.
The Star City Hotel & Casino
The Star City Hotel & Casino is once again the host venue of the PokerStars.net APPT Grand Final, tucked within the heart of Sydney with the Darling Harbor at its doorstep. This is the only place in the state where you’ll find gaming tables, but with over 200 of them woven through this complex of six restaurants, eight bars, a 2,000-seat theatre and 480 hotel rooms, you won’t be short of options.
One of my biggest peeves is when you have a 10-minute break and nowhere to go for a cheap, easy, on-the-go meal. You won’t have that problem here with the Trophies Foodcourt or even the Garden Buffet where you can load your plate with as many prawns as you can eat.
The AUD $6,300 APPT Sydney Main Event attracted almost 400 locals, well-known pros and international qualifiers, forming a juicy prize pool of AUD $2.37 million, and with the Australian dollar so strong at the moment, there are really too many reasons not to miss it this year. To add to that, I hear that Daniel Negreanu will be making a trip down under for this event.
A Taste of Australia?
One of the most common first questions I receive when I meet non-Australians is something about kangaroos. If you’re heading to Australia for the first time, let me tell you that you certainly will not see any hopping around the city streets. Unless you have the time to head out to the countryside to spot some wild roos, then I would suggest an afternoon at Wildlife World where you can see roos, wombats, and you can even pet a koala (please don’t ever attempt this if you see one in the wild. Although they look as friendly as your little sister’s teddy bears, they’re not). If you love this wildlife kind of activity, you can even back up Wildlife World with a visit underwater in the Sydney Aquarium right across the harbor from Star City Casino. And don't forget the zoo, which you can reach by ferry.
For a traditional Aussie lunch or dinner, head to Centennial Parklands and fire up one of the public barbeques. All it will cost you is the price of the snags (sausages) and the Esky (cooler) of beers you’ll sneakily drink while in the park.
A Video Tour
Had enough reading? Here’s a glimpse of the city that we crammed into one minute and thirty-eight seconds during last year’s APPT Grand Final