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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

The Round Table – Sights and Sounds from NBC Heads-up Pairings Party

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The red carpet was packed last night with reporters on the back end of the red carpet, fans behind them with eager eyes and the poker players in the spotlight.

I headed over to the party just after it kicked off with Clonie Gowen, Annie Duke, Shannon Elizabeth, and Michael and Nick Binger.

After walking the carpet, the players drifted into Pure for the pairings party, noshed on appetizers and sipped cocktails.

Jeffry Pollock kicked things off and mentioned that the winner of this year’s event would win a seat into the WSOP Main Event this year.

As the drawings were being announced, I walked around and chatted with some of the players and asked who they didn’t want to draw.

Huck said he didn’t want to play any pro and got his wish when he was drawn to play Seinfeld alum Jason Alexander.

Phil Laak said he wanted Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Hellmuth or Phil Ivey. He said he wanted one of the top pros. He told me, “if you lose to them no big deal, no one remembers. If you win everyone remembers!” Phil found himself up against David Singer who has had good success at Caesars winning their first ever $10,000 event.

Annie stressed that she didn’t want to play her brother
and instead got paired up with player of the year JC Tran.

Shannon Elizabeth drew Andy Bloch and found herself in a tough second round match up as well. “If I beat Andy, both Vanessa [Rousso] and Antonio are tough players.”

After the pairings, players left Pure and headed their different ways. Some went off to bed, Clonie Gowen and Shannon Elizabeth. Others headed to the club, Antonio Esfandiari, and others headed to the poker table. Joe Sebok, who was in town to support his father spent the night playing Chinese poker on the specially made heads up tables with commentator Ali Nejad.

Here are the pairings in their respective brackets:


Antonio Esfandiari vs. Vanessa Rousso
Shannon Elizabeth vs. Andy Bloch
Todd Brunson vs. Scott Fischman
Jamie Gold vs. Tom Kelly
Ted Forrest vs. Orel Hershiser
Allen Cunningham vs. Chad Brown
Jean-Robert Bellande vs. Sam Grizzle
Paul Wasicka vs. Freddy Deeb


Jason Alexander vs. Huck Seed
David Pham vs. Brian Townsend
Jennifer Tilly vs. Clonie Gowen
Daniel Negreanu vs. Michael Mizrachi
Barry Greenstein vs. Howard Lederer
David Benyamine vs. Jennifer Harman
Sam Farha vs. Doyle Brunson
Erick Lindgren vs. Eli Elezra


Jonathan Little vs. Erik Seidel
Patrik Antonius vs. Gabe Kaplan
Greg Raymer vs. Hooman Nikzad
Kenny Tran vs. Scott Clements
Mike Matusow vs. Joe Hachem
Tom Dwan vs. Phil Hellmuth
Tom Schneider vs. Gavin Smith
Chris Ferguson vs. John Juanda


Don Cheadle vs. Gus Hansen
Scotty Nguyen vs. Bill Edler
Chris Moneymaker vs. Jerry Yang
David Singer vs. Phil Laak
Phil Ivey vs. Alisha Kunze
David Williams vs. Johnny Chan
Daniel Schreiber vs. TJ Cloutier
Annie Duke vs. JC Tran

The matches were set with the first bracket being held at 11:30 am. Check back in to see who wins and who goes home empty handed.

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