One of the most interesting and unique tournaments in the world is well underway. That tournament being the NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship. This event is an invitation only event, with a Poker Stars qualifier also being in the sixty-four-player field. Unfortunately, she didn’t get an easy draw, having Phil Ivey as her first opponent, fresh off his LAPC win. Also, as it’s been in past years, it’s a single elimination tournament until the final two square off, when it then becomes a best out of three matches.
The brackets were split into four brackets, those being Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, and Spades. The first bracket to start was the Hearts bracket. Here were the matchups.
Vanessa Rousso vs. Antonio Esfandiari
Andy Bloch vs. Shannon Elizabeth
Scott Fischman vs. Todd Brunson
Tom Kelly vs. Jamie Gold
Orel Hershiser vs. Ted Forrest
Chad Brown vs. Allen Cunningham
Jean-Robert Bellande vs. Sam Grizzle
Paul Wasicka vs. Freddy Deeb
The first two eliminations were a bit surprising. Though the odds were heavily stacked against them, Paul Wasicka and Chad Brown were the first two eliminated. Wasicka and Brown played in the finals last year, with Wasicka winning the crown and $500k, but were the first two eliminated this year. Cunningham and Deeb advanced easily. Jamie Gold advanced over Tom Kelly; Scott Fischman defeated Todd Brunson; the former pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Orel Hershiser, won over Ted Forrest; Sam Grizzle took down Jean-Robert Bellande, fresh off his stay in Survivor: China; Rousso grinded out Esfandiari; and in the last match to finish up, Andy Bloch sent Shannon Elizabeth home in the first round.
Vanessa Rousso def. Antonio Esfandiari
Andy Bloch def. Shannon Elizabeth
Scott Fischman def. Todd Brunson
Jamie Gold def. Tom Kelly
Orel Hershiser def. Ted Forrest
Allen Cunningham def. Chad Brown
Sam Grizzle def. Jean-Robert Bellande
Freddy Deeb def. Paul Wasicka
Next up, was the Diamond bracket. Matchups:
Eli Elezra vs. Erick Lindgren
David Benyamine vs. Jennifer Harman
Howard Lederer vs. Barry Greenstein
Doyle Brunson vs. Sam Farha
Clonie Gowen vs. Jennifer Tilly
David Pham vs. Brian Townsend
Jason Alexander vs. Huck Seed
Daniel Negreanu vs. Michael Mizrachi
Some extremely interesting matches in this bracket, with many interesting storylines abound. Brian “sbrugy” Towsend – David Pham promised to be an exciting match, as well as a classic showdown between Doyle and Farha. The much anticipated Farha – Brunson matchup didn’t last too long, as Brunson’s KQ sucked out on Farha’s AQ to send Farha packing. Huck Seed eliminated the actor, Jason Alexander. Mizrachi eliminated Negreanu when they both hit two pair; with Mizrachi holding a higher two pair. Tilly was knocked out by Gowen, after Gowen hit a flush to crack Tilly’s straight. Pham got his money in with pocket nines against Townsend’s T9 offsuit, but two tens rolled out on the flop, no miracle hit, and last year’s Player of the Year was ousted. Greenstein took down Elezra, Benyamine eliminated Harman, and Lindgren grounded Elezra.
Erick Lindgren def. Eli Elezra
David Benyamin def. Jennifer Harman
Barry Greenstein def. Howard Lederer
Doyle Brunson def. Sam Farha
Clonie Gowen def. Jennifer Tilly
Brian Townsend def. David Pham
Huck Seed def. Jason Alexander
Michael Mizrachi def. Daniel Negreanu
Onto the Club bracket. Again, ripe with some extremely intriguing matches, which should be a common theme deep into this tournament. Matusow vs. Hachem, Tom “Durr” Dwan vs. Phil Hellmuth, John Juanda vs. Chris Ferguson, Kenny Tran vs. Scott Clements, every match sounded ridiculous. This bracket also created the biggest storyline of the first round, and the source should be no surprise. Here’s the list of the eight matches in the Club bracket:
John Juanda vs. Chris “Jesus” Ferguson
Gavin Smith vs. Tom Schneider
Tom “Durr” Dwan vs. Phil Hellmuth
Mike Matusow vs. Joe Hachem
Kenny Tran vs. Scott Clements
Hooman Nikzad vs. Greg Raymer
Gabe Kaplan vs. Patrik Antonius
Jonathan “FieryJustice” Little vs. Erik Seidel
Hellmuth, fresh off his 6th place finish at the LAPC, squared off against Tom “Durr” Dwan, regarded by many to be one of the top players online, if not in the world. Their matchup lasted just three hands, and the final hand has spurred a plethora of threads all over the Internet. Dwan and Hellmuth got it in preflop, with Dwan holding pocket tens, and Hellmuth holding pocket aces. Dwan spiked his two outer on the turn, and this of course sent Hellmuth off the deep end. Surprisingly, Dwan has received a lot of criticism for his play with the tens, despite it being an extremely standard hand in heads-up play. On top of that, there have been numerous rumors floating around about Hellmuth and Dwan working out details of a series of heads-up matches for what would most likely be for a great deal of money.
On the calmer side of things, Greg Raymer defeated Nikzad, Scott Clements took out Kenny Tran, Gabe Kaplan of “Welcome Back Kotter” fame eliminated Patrik Antonius, Jonathan Little won a race against Erik Seidel to send him packing, Gavin Smith finished off Tom Schneider, Mike Matusow beat out his fellow 2005 WSOP Main Event final tablemate in Joe Hachem, And in the final match, Chris Ferguson eliminated John Juanda.
John Juanda def. Chris “Jesus” Ferguson
Gavin Smith def. Tom Schneider
Tom “Durr” Dwan defeated Phil Hellmuth
Mike Matusow def. Joe Hachem
Scott Clements def. Kenny Tran
Greg Raymer def. Hooman Nikzad
Gabe Kaplan def. Patrik Antonious
Jonathan “FieryJustice” Little def. Erik Seidel
The fourth and final bracket of the first round was the Spades bracket.
Annie Duke vs. J.C. Tran
Scotty Nguyen vs. Bill Edler
Jerry Yang vs. Chris Moneymaker
David Singer vs. Phil Laak
Phil Ivey vs. Alisha Kunze
David Williams vs. Johnny Chan
Daniel “Rekrul” Schreiber vs. T.J. Cloutier
Don Cheadle vs. Gus Hansen
One would have to figure Ivey and Schreiber as favorites in this bracket. Ivey is one of the very best players in the world, and just took down the LAPC for over 1.5 million. Schreiber is a very successful online high stakes cash game player, as well as a holder of a bracelet from last year’s WSOP. The event he won? A heads-up tournament.
In an extremely talented match, Nguyen beat Edler, in a flush over flush situation. Chan defeated David Williams; Phil Laak defeated David Singer; Gus Hansen took down the actor, Don Cheadle; Ivey hit a cooler against the PokerStars qualifier, Alisha Kunze, and went on to prevail after winning a coinflip; Jerry Yang hit a two outer to eliminate Chris Moneymaker; J.C. Tran sent home Annie Duke, and T.J. Cloutier had an upset over Daniel Schreiber, when his fours held up against Daniel’s AJ, all in preflop.
J.C. Tran def. Annie Duke
Scotty Nguyen def. Bill Edler
Jerry Yang def. Chris Moneymaker
Phil Laak def. David Singer
Phil Ivey def. Alisha Kunze
Johnny Chan def. David Williams
T.J. Cloutier def. Daniel “Rekrul” Schreiber
Gus Hansen def. Don Cheadle
These are the results of Round 1 of the NBC Heads-Up Championship, check back in the coming days for the upcoming results!