Final Eight Set In 2013 NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship
Quarterfinalists Will Battle For The Title And The $750,000 First-Place Prize
After two action-packed days and three rounds of matches, the final eight is set in the 2013 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship. All remaining players are guaranteed at least $50,000 in prize money, although each of the elite eight are sure to have their eyes on the $750,000 first-place prize. Take a look below at the bracket heading into the final day of play. (Click to enlarge.)
This meeting of the young guns from the clubs bracket will surely be a favorite amongst high-stakes cash game connoisseurs. Both Seiver and Cates have extensive experience playing in nosebleed-stakes cash games online, frequently in heads-up games.
Cates is listed as the fifth highest earning online cash game player with over $7 million in profits according to tracking sites. Seiver is the far more accomplished tournament player, however, with just under $7 million in live tournament earnings and $498,706 more online. Seiver is also coming off the biggest win of his career, scoring more than $2 million for winning the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $100,000 super high roller just weeks ago.
Both players have defeated tough competition to make the final eight. Cates topped Matt Slasberg, Chris Moorman and Antonio Esfandari en route to his clash with Seiver, who beat Will Failla, Kyle Julius and Vanessa Rousso.
If the Cates and Seiver pairing is a battle of the young-guns, then this match-up in the spades bracket is the old school showdown of the quarterfinals. With years of experience as cash game players, both found success on the tournament circuit during the height of the poker boom in the early 2000’s. Between the two of them they have five WSOP gold bracelets and collective tournament earnings of more than $11 million.
Of the two, Mike “The Mouth” Matusow has been the more frequent, and louder, presence on the tournament circuit. With three gold bracelets, ten career titles and $7.5 million in earnings, Matusow’s play speaks for itself. On the way to this round he topped some dangerous opponents in Michael Mizrachi, Viktor “Isildur1” Blom and Barry Greenstein.
John Hennigan has two bracelets, a World Poker Tour title and more than $3.5 million in earnings to his name, but he is mostly known for his prowess in high-stakes live cash games. To set up this clash with Matusow he beat David Williams, Sam Simon and the ever dangerous Phil Ivey.
This diamonds bracket quarterfinal features an interesting pairing of tournament specialist Joe Serock against heads-up cash game specialist Brian Hastings. While one has spent much of his career focusing on playing heads-up poker, the other is probably more familiar with the short stacks that arise in this invitational event’s brisk structure.
Brian Hastings has demonstrated his ability to succeed in the tournament format of heads-up play as well, however. At the 2012 WSOP he emerged victorious in the $10,000 no-limit hold’em heads-up championship to win his first bracelet. Still, he is best known for his exploits in nosebleed cash game tables. Most notably, he once won $4.2 million in the span of a few hours playing multiple tables of heads-up against Viktor “Isildur1” Blom at $500-$1,000 pot-limit Omaha. En route to the elite eight in this event he has defeated Card Player columnist Matt Matros, Eli Elezra and Tom “Durrrr” Dwan.
Joe Serock is coming off a one of his best years on the tournament circuit. In 2012 he made four final tables, including two third-place showings at WPT final tables. Over his career he has garnered $2.6 million in tournament earnings both live and online. He topped an impressive list of opponents on the road to final eight: reigning WSOP main event champion Greg Merson, 2009 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship winner Huck Seed and 2012 Player of the Year runner-up Dan Smith.
The fourth and final match is between two tournament heavyweights in the hearts bracket, including the only remaining prior winner of this event: 2005 champion Phil Hellmuth. The all-time WSOP gold bracelet leader won the inaugural running of this tournament, and is now looking to become the first player to win it twice. Standing in his way is Eugene Katchalov, a WSOP bracelet winner and WPT champion with more than $7.7 million in tournament earnings.
Hellmuth has possibly the greatest record in the history of tournament poker. In addition to winning this title and 13 total WSOP bracelets, he is also the only player to ever win both the WSOP main event and the WSOP Europe main event. In this event he defeated a murderer’s row of top professionals along the way, including Mike Sexton, Justin Smith and David “Doc” Sands. Katchalov overcame a tough draw that included Faraz Jaka, Phil Galfond and Joseph Cheong.
These eight players will return on Saturday to play until this year’s champion is decided. Check back on CardPlayer.com for a recap.
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