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NBC Cancels National Heads Up Poker Championship

Tournament Will End After a Seven-Year Run

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The NBC Set at Caesars PalaceAfter seven seasons on NBC, Sports Senior Director of Communications Adam Freifeld has announced that the National Heads-Up Poker Championship has been canceled.

According to Wicked Chops Poker, the annual event will not take place in 2012, but NBC has not ruled out the possibility of it returning in the future.

The invitational event at Caesars Palace was a popular staple of the tournament circuit which pitted 64 of the world’s best players against each other in a single-elimination heads-up format. Phil Hellmuth won the inaugural event in 2005 and was followed by notable winners such as Ted Forrest (2006), Paul Wasicka (2007), Chris Ferguson (2008), Huck Seed (2009), Annie Duke (2010) and Erik Seidel (2011).

The Championship RingIn addition to top-notch pros, the tournament also attracted a number of celebrities including Shannon Elizabeth, Don Cheadle, Brad Garrett, Jason Alexander, Orel Hershiser, Emmitt Smith, James Woods, Rene Angelil, Jerry Buss and Gabe Kaplan.

The are a few reasons for the cancellation. Much of the show’s advertising came from PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, who have since been shut out of the U.S. online poker market. Also, ratings for the program have been steadily declining since their peak in 2007, though the numbers were respectable, averaging a 1.5 over the seven-year run.

This is the third major televised poker show to be canceled in the wake of Black Friday. Earlier this year, NBC also canceled the late-night Poker After Dark and Fox ended the PokerStars Big Game.