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Poker News | World Poker News

Match-Ups Announced for NBC National Heads-Up Championship

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The 64 players were at the ready on Thursday night, March 5. All of the pre-selected competitors for the 2009 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship gathered at PURE Nightclub at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for the drawing party, where the drinks flowed and the players discovered the names of their competitors and the set-up of the brackets.

When the players were announced more than a week prior, none of them knew who they would play in the first round match-ups or who else would share space in their brackets. At that time, there were even still several spots open for those who would win seats at Caesars Palace or through an online poker satellite. But by the time of the drawing party, those players had been determined, and only one change had been made to the overall player list, as Ivan Demidov was unable to make the tournament due to visa issues and was replaced by alternate Hevad Khan.

Some notable match-ups in the first round of play include the pairing of 2008 champion Chris Ferguson against Gabe Kaplan, and the rematch of last year’s first round upset in which Orel Hershiser defeated Ted Forrest. One of the initial pairings puts two qualifiers at the same table with Jeffrey Ishbia and Leon Yanovski, and other well-known poker pros pitted against qualifiers include 2007 champion Paul Wasicka versus Nicholas Joy, Bertrand Grospellier versus Fred Collins, Barry Greenstein versus Blandino Gines, and Phil Laak versus Kenny Yeh.

Only six women will compete in the 2009 NHUPC, as compared to the seven of last year, one of whom was an internet qualifier. It is also interesting to note that the final four from last year - Chris Ferguson, Andy Bloch, Huck Seed, and Phil Ivey - are all in separate brackets this year, making it possible for similar match-ups in the late rounds should all of them survive.

And without further ado, here are the brackets and first round match-ups:

Clubs Bracket:

Don Cheadle v. David Pham
Paul Wasicka v. Nicholas Joy
Jennifer Tilly v. Phil Ivey
Doyle Brunson v. Vanessa Rousso
Hevad Khan v. Scotty Nguyen
Ted Forrest v. Orel Hershiser
Daniel Negreanu v. Chris Moneymaker
Mike Matusow v. Dario Minieri

Spades Bracket:

Gabe Kaplan v. Chris Ferguson
John Juanda v. Joe Hachem
Ilari Sahamies v. Gavin Smith
Fred Collins v. Bertrand Grospellier
Jeffrey Ishbia v. Leon Yanovski
Mike Sexton v. Phil Hellmuth
Gavin Griffin v. Tom Dwan
Barry Greenstein v. Blandino Gines

Hearts Bracket:

Johnny Chan v. Eli Elezra
Erick Lindgren v. Howard Lederer
J.C. Tran v. David Williams
Jamie Gold v. Scott Fischman
Erik Seidel v. John Phan
Jerry Yang v. Clonie Gowen
Allen Cunningham v. Sam Farha
Andy Bloch v. Peter Eastgate

Diamonds Bracket:

Kenny Tran v. Antonio Esfandiari
Greg Raymer v. Jennifer Harman
Kenny Yeh v. Phil Laak
Vanessa Selbst v. Layne Flack
David Benyamine v. Gus Hansen
Huck Seed v. Jonathan Little
Chad Brown v. Glen Chorny
Annie Duke v. Brad Garrett

The first round will play out on March 6th to thin the field to 32 players. The second and third rounds will take place on March 7th, which will leave the quarterfinals, semifinals, and championship best-of-three rounds for Sunday, March 8th. The ultimate victor will walk away with the 2009 title and $500,000 in prize money.

With new presenting sponsor at the helm and NBC on board to film the action, players and the general public who were able to obtain seating will be at Caesars Palace this weekend to view the action. Ultimately, everyone will be able to see it when the shows air throughout April and May on Sunday afternoons.

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