Mentally preparing yourself for a high buy-in live poker tournament can be a tricky business.

It is unlike any other 'sport', because regardless of how well you play, and how much better you are than the field; there is still a very good chance you will not win.

Take this weekend's $1650 main event of the NZ Poker Championships in Christchurch for example. If it attracts 120 runners, only around 12 will make the money, and it's very unlikely they will be the 12 best players in the room.

There is a very good chance that a high number of the eliminated players will have made no mistakes, but instead be victims of plain bad luck.


So what is the attraction of poker tournaments? Why do players keep coming back if they lose so often, even if they are doing everything right?

Kiwi poker pro James Honeybone will tell you that a winning ride through a high-buy in tournament field makes all the bust-out pain worthwhile.

The 28 year-old professional poker player has amassed over $NZ 243,000 in live and $NZ 100,000 in online winnings over the past six years, while travelling to some of the most exotic locations in the world.

Honeybone has made a living from turning small online 'satellite' tournament buy-ins into giant five and six figure payouts and he describes the journey as the most exciting part.

"It's a pretty lavish lifestyle, almost like being a rockstar," Honeybone said.

"You win a tournament that you qualify for online, you receive the money in your account, you pay for the airfares and the rest is taken care of.

"Sometimes there is a sign in the airport with your name on it, they say 'this way sir', and then you're in some flash car being whisked off to some exotic location. The parties are amazing too."

Honeybone is a familiar face around the NZ poker scene and since recently returning from the Latin America Poker tour, has travelled down to Queenstown for the $3,000 ANZPT main event and will this week make his fifth run at the NZ poker champs.


"I finished my first day as the second chip leader in Queenstown and had a really good run, but unfortunately I lost the majority of my chips on a sick hand on day two," he said.

"My KK got undone by ATcc on a J87 board with two clubs. We got the money in on the turn when a red nine came and that pretty much crippled me."**

Honeybone plans on playing three events in Christchurch, the $600 buy-in Canterbury Champs on Thursday, the $880 South Island Champs on Friday, and the main event on Saturday.

"The trip will be a mixture of business and pleasure and the whole tournament experience is exciting for me."

Honeybone hopes to improve on his fifth placed finish two years ago at the NZ Champs where he earned $13,000.

"You also always get great service at the Christchurch casino. The guys in the poker room are really friendly and you definitely wouldn't receive the levels of service you get down there in Auckland."

While the Christchurch nightlife may not rival the Colombian after-parties Honeybone has become accustomed too, you get the feeling that win or lose, he will be having fun in Christchurch.

Click here for the NZ Poker Championship tournament schedule.

Steven Holloway will be attending the NZ Poker Championship main event courtesy of Christchurch casino. Follow him on Twitter for updates from the tournament.

Follow Steven on Twitter.

**For the poker illiterate.

Honeybone was dealt two kings, while his opponent had an ace of clubs and a ten of clubs.

The first three community cards the dealer spread out was the Jack (of clubs), eight (spades) and seven (of clubs).

After a round of betting, the dealer revealed a nine (of diamonds) next (the turn).

This gave Honeybones' opponent a straight, both players moved all their chips in the middle and Honeybone had no chance of winning.