The top poker players in New Zealand will this weekend converge on Christchurch casino, hoping to take home a share of the likely $550,000 prize pool generated from one of the country's biggest poker events.

The 2018 New Zealand Poker Champs start on Saturday with a $440 deepstack turbo tournament and culminates next weekend with a $1650 buy-in main event tournament which is expected to drum up a prizepool of $300,000.

In between there are ten different events, which range in buy-in from $250 to $1100 and include No Limit Holdem, Pot Limit Omaha, a women's event and a bounty event.

This year's series will also include a Key to Life charity tournament on Tuesday night, where 100% of the $2250 prizepool goes to the Key to Life charity, which is focused on changing societies view of suicide. Christchurch casino is providing a free ticket to the main event for the winner.

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The New Zealand Poker Champs Main Event has produced six Kiwi winners over the past six years after Ben Rendall won $75,000 last year, Jack Efariamo won $50,000 in 2017 Jay Gilbert and Jason Brown split the purse in 2015, taking home $40,500 each. Australian Shane Hicks won $45,500 in 2014, Kiwi Steve Smith took $47,000 in 2013 and Paul Hockin won $35,000 in 2012.

The tournament series has been running since 1999 and is the longest established poker championship series in Australasia and Christchurch Casino poker manager Warren Wyllie expects around 660 entrants to all 12 events.

Last year, the Christchurch Poker Championships main event attracted 147 players and a prizepool of $337,000.

"We are very much looking forward to welcoming our poker guests and to crowning the 20th NZPC Main Event champion," said Christchurch Casino poker manager Warren Wyllie.

2016 Aussie Millions main event winner Shurane Vijayaram will be attending the series, along with Efariamo, Kiwi comedian Mike King and local legend Scott Hamilton-Hill who finished third in this year's WSOP seniors event for $440,710.

Click here for full 2018 New Zealand Poker Championship schedule.