This is the time of year when Australia establishes itself as the center of the poker universe.
The Aussie Millions, a tournament that attracts almost all the great pros and even finds some television time on FSN, is running right now and puts Australia in the spotlight as one of the most prestigious tournaments of the year.
Now there's another reason for Australia to tiptoe on stage and feel the light's white heat.
PokerStars just launched a new poker tour in its honor.
The PokerStars Australia and New Zealand Poker Tour's first event will be Feb. 4, in Adelaide.
The growth of poker, like it has all over the world, is astounding in Australia (thanks Joe Hachem) and New Zealand. Some figures show more than 400,000 Aussies are regularly playing poker.
The first season will run until July and follows the success of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour, which concluded in Sydney in December. That successful final tournament helped convince PokerStars to expand poker throughout that region.
It would be a good idea to download PokerStars now. You'll get a 100 percent matching bonus up to $50. You must enter the marketing code of POKERWORKS upon registration and the bonus code of STARS50 upon your first deposit.
That's because PokerStars, of course, is running satellites so you can get your seat to all the stops, including Adelaide's Sky City Casino, widely regarded as the home of Australian Poker. The casino first introduced Texas Hold 'Em to the country back in 1987. Packages worth more than $4,500 include a $3,000 buy-in, five nights accommodation at the luxurious Hyatt Hotel in Adelaide and travel expenses.
And the best part? It's free to enter.
Nightly freerolls from Monday to Saturday will take place on PokerStars each week leading up to the February kick off, with the top 20 players qualifying for a Sunday evening final. The winner of each Sunday final will receive a package to Adelaide.
There are also real money satellites that run nightly and feed into a weekly Sunday evening qualifier, and there's even a weekly Saturday afternoon re-buy direct satellite.
Get on PokerStars now, mate, where you just might be passed the sugar.