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Today’s topic is the final day of the NBC Heads-Up Championship, which featured 8 remaining players battling for a $500k first prize. For an introduction to this invite-only tournament, please visit dthorne04’s blog because this is a continuation of his last post.

The anticipated final day of the championship would feature the elite eight battling for places in the final four, and then the final four competing for a place in the championship match.

Here were the match-ups for the elite eight:

Huck Seed vs. David Benyamine

Andy Bloch vs. Orel Hershisher

Gus Hansen vs. Phil Ivey

Jonathan Little vs. Chris Ferguson

Everyone in the elite eight was already guaranteed $75,000 in prize money.

Seed was the first to advance to the final four with a win over Benyamine. After gaining a large chip lead, Seed got dealt pocket dueces and flopped a set. Luckily (for him) the board came low, Benyamine shoved, and he instacalled to knock Benyamine out.

The Bloch vs Hershisher match took significantly longer as the two traded chip leads many times. The match finally ended with Bloch putting Hershisher all in while holding A9o. Hershisher called with JTo and lost, ending his Cinderella run and sending Bloch to the final four.

At the highly anticipated table seating Ivey and Hansen, a match was being played for ‘bragging rights’. After earning a slight chip lead over Ferguson, Ivey finished the match by flopping the second nuts versus Hansen’s bottom pair and calling Hansen’s push. Ivey earned both bragging rights and a spot in the final four.

The final match of the elite eight was a big draw, as well, with Ferguson and Little duking it out for a final four spot. At one point Little had a massive chip lead of 280,000 chips to Fergusons’s 40,000, but this wasn’t enough to seal the deal. Ferguson battled back and he eventually took his opponent out by raising and then calling a push with 99. He held versus T7s, and Little went home with $75,000.

The final four match ups:

Phil Ivey vs. Chris Ferguson

Huck Seed vs. Andy Bloch

Ferguson was the first to earn a highly sought-after final match seat, busting Ivey with pocket eights. He 3 bet his opponent preflop and then bet a 943 flop. After second barreling a 5 river, he tanked for 3 minutes after Ivey pushed. He finally called and was able to dodge a few outs to win the pot versus Ivey’s 66. This brought Ferguson to his third NBC Heads-up Championship final table in the last four years! Ivey received $125,000 for his finish.

Bloch and Seed traded pots back and forth for a while before Bloch finally got a 2-1 chip lead and then ended the match a few hands later. The match ended in a race: Bloch’s AQo versus Seed’s 99. Bloch rivered an ace and won a seat at the final table while Seed was sent home with a consolation prize of $125,000.

The championship match:

Andy Bloch vs. Chris Ferguson

Both players were competing for their first NBC Heads-Up Championship title and $500,000. The final round featured a best of three format.

The first match started off very slowly, as both players are very deliberate and calculating. At one point Ferguson had taken better than a 3 to 1 chip lead over Bloch, but he lost his large lead after getting it in with a set versus Bloch’s turned flush. Bloch then went on to win the first match, getting it in on a A99 flop with T9o versus Ferguson’s AKs.

The second match featured more tight play and very few flops. Eventually the blinds got high, however, and the players were forced to open up a bit. After granting Bloch a chip lead but then doubling up to put them back to around even stacks, Ferguson crippled Bloch with JJ versus a flopped open-ended straight draw. Bloch missed all his outs and then pushed his remaining chips in with K3o in a hand shortly afterwards. Ferguson called with QQ, his hand held, and the two players were tied at one match each.

Time for a tie-breaker! The third match went much quicker than the previous two. After gaining a slight chip lead over his opponent, Ferguson was dealt JJ and ended the match with this sexy pocket pair. He raised preflop with his pocket jacks and after Bloch called, he bet a T73 flop, called a Bloch check/raise, and then pushed over a turn bet. This caused Bloch to tank for seven minutes and then flip a coin! His coin landed heads and then he called Ferguson’s push, turning over T4s for top pair. Fergusons’s JJ held on a 7 river, and he was the 2008 NBC Heads-Up Champion!

Ferguson won the $500,000, a championship trophy, a lovely watch, and a seat to the World Series of Poker main event. He must have been relieved to win – who knows how long people would talk about failing to win a championship after three finals appearances! Bloch also did well for himself, taking home a nice $250,000 consolation prize for his second place finish.