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Yesterday afternoon witnessed the first of two heads up competitions at the thirteenth Full Tilt Series of Poker. Over the past few years one-on-one battles have become a staple of high stakes tournaments, both live and online. The World Series now features a heads up tournament and the NBC National Heads Up Poker Championships has grown into a prestigious title. Luminaries such as Chris “Jesus” Ferguson and Huck Seed are both former champions of the NBC event.

This particular heads up tournament was a $500 + $35 No Limit Hold ‘em event with $500,000 guaranteed. The 1,024 entrants contributed just enough to exceed the guarantee, resulting in a prize pool of $512,200. For the next nine hours the players would compete in round after round of heads up contests in the hope of reaching one of the 128 paid spots.

In the final contest NNNobodYYY defeated MrsESPN to take home $89,088 and $53,248 respectively. Picking up $27,136 for their semi-final finishes were GeoffRas22 and elymint. The Full Tilt sponsored pros typically do well in the heads up tournaments, as they can better leverage their skill advantage in a 1 on 1 encounter. However, the internet brigade showed them a thing or two this time around. Of the Red Pros who entered, only Scott Clements managed to cash, although he did finish in a very respectable 14th place. Among those who missed out were Aaron Bartley, Andrew Black, Andy Bloch, David Pham, Erick Lindgren, Jeff Madsen, Roberto Romanello, Roy Winston, and Scott Fischman.

All the FTOPS events are hosted by an accomplished sponsored pro. This time it was the turn of little known Welsh player Roberto Romanello. His $520,000 career tournament earnings have all come since he first picked up the game in 2005. Just a year after starting to play he made a $40,000 run at the WSOP and then won €42,200 at the 2006 Barcelona Open. He most recently made headlines at the 2008 WSOP for making one of the greatest folds in the history of televised poker. Holding Jacks Full on the river against his opponent’s Kings Full he made an astonishing lay down to a standard raise. Both players showed their cards after the hand, prompting characteristic consternation from Mike “The Mouth” Matusow.

The next FTOPS XIII Heads up tournament is Event #18, hosted by UK pro and Hendon Mob member Ross Boatman. In a rare twist, however, this will be a $500 heads up Omaha event, rather than the more traditional Hold ‘em.