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2009 | Live & Online Poker Tournament News
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Saturday, March 7, 2009 | Francis Lee


The 2009 NBC National Heads Up Poker Championship opened up at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, the fifth time this event has been held.  64 players started out of which 58 were invited players and 8 players qualified. They were all fighting for the $500,000 first place prize and the NBC Heads Up Championship Crown.  To get this the winner must win six heads up matches in order to become champion.

The 58 invited players were some of the most well known poker pro’s around which included the last four champions Phil Hellmuth(2005), Ted Forest(2006), Paul Wasicka(2007) and Chris Ferguson(2008).  The field was split into four groups named after one of the card suits, with eight match ups per group.  So after all the action had concluded on the first days play the field would be reduced to 32 players.

Play started off with the Hearts field and they didn’t hang around as it only took 1 ½ hours to complete.  The fallers in this field included Allen Cunningham, Erick Seidel, Andy Bloch, Johnny Chan, J C Tran and Jamie Gold. The four, second round match ups set for day two in the heats field was as follows:

 Hearts Group Second Round Match Ups

  • Eli Elezra v. Erick Lindgren
  • Sam Farha v. Peter Eastgate
  • John Phan v. Jerry Yang
  • David Williams v. Scott Fischman

The Diamonds field was next to go with Layne Flack missing out after a driving incident in Las Vegas and he was substituted by David Oppenheim.  Oppenheim made it to round two beating Vanessa Selbst and will meet Phil Laak who overcame Kenny Yeh.  The other notable fallers included Chad Brown, Greg Raymer, Antonio Esfandiari, Annie Duke and David Benyamine.  The last eight players to make round two was paired as follows:

Diamonds Group Second Round Match Ups

  • Glen Chorny v. Brad Garrett
  • Phil Laak v. David Oppenheim
  • Gus Hansen v. Huck Seed
  • Kenny Tran v. Jennifer Harman

The Clubs field was packed with great match ups and this was the most anticipated field to take to the felt.  Ted Forest was beaten in the first round last year when defending his title last and was paired against his victor Orel Hershiser again.  He got his revenge this year though booking his next round match up with Scotty Nguyen who beat Hevad Khan.  The other big match ups in this group ended with Jenifer Tilly beating Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson was ousted by Vanessa Rousso, Daniel Negreanu beat Chris Moneymaker and Dario Minieri overcame Mike Matusow.  The last four match ups for the next round in this group looked as follows.

Clubs Group Second Round Match Ups

  • Don Cheadle v. Paul Wasicka
  • Phil Ivey v. Vanessa Rousso
  • Daniel Negreanu v. Dario Minieri
  • Scotty Nguyen v. Ted Forrest

The Spades field was the last group to start their matches, which turned out to be the longest to complete of the four groups.  It took just over 30 minutes for the first elimination to come about but after this they came along more frequently.  The first player out was Joe Hachem who was beaten by John Juanda and then Phil Hellmuth took down Mike Sexton.  Barry Greenstein made it through beating internet qualifier Blandino Gines. The first of our four previous champions fell as Chris Ferguson was beaten by Gabe Kalpin.  Bertrand Grospellier finished the day off when he beat Fred Collins.  The last eight to make the second round from this group was paired as follows:

 Spades Group Second Round Match Ups

  • Ilari Sahamies v. Bertrand Grospellier
  • Gabe Kaplan v. John Juanda
  • Tom Dwan v. Barry Greenstein
  • Jeffrey Ishbia v. Phil Hellmuth



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