Poker has suffered some major blows lately and while the cancellation of the National Heads-Up Poker Championship by NBC isn't really a total shock, it's still unwelcome news. The news was first reported by Wicked Chops Poker after getting confirmation from NBC Sports Senior Director of Communications Adam Freifeld.
The National Heads-Up Poker Championship aired for the first time in 2005 with Phil Hellmuth taking down the inaugural event. An invite only event, the championship featured 64 of the world's top poker players and celebrities with many poker notables taking home the championship including Chris Ferguson, Ted Forrest, Annie Duke, and the 2011 Champion, Erik Seidel.
Televised poker has taken a huge hit since PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker have been removed from the U.S. market. Both online poker sites were major advertisers for the National Heads-Up Poker Championship and their contributions fronted the $20,000 buy-in for most of the sponsored players. But the National Heads-Up Poker Championship isn't alone when it comes to cancellations. Poker After Dark (NBC) was Full Tilt sponsored; The Big Game (Fox) was PokerStars sponsored; both became casualties of Black Friday.
On the upside of poker on TV, the World Series of Poker and ESPN have signed a contract that endures through 2017 - thanks to advertisers that include GoDaddy.com and Jack Link's Beef Jerky. In 2009 GoDaddy.com was the presenting sponsor for the National Heads-up Poker Championship.