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List Released For NBC Heads-Up Invitational

Group Consists Of Poker Professionals And Celebrity Players


The list of poker players for the 2013 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship was released Friday. Some of poker’s biggest names will be at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Jan. 24 to compete in a single-elimination bracket.

The bracket for the 64 entrants will be determined, at random, the evening of Jan. 23.

Here’s a look at the players:

1 Gaelle Baumann
2 Jean Robert Bellande
3 Andy Bloch
4 Viktor Blom
5 Liv Boeree
6 Justin Bonomo
7 Doyle Brunson
8 Olivier Busquet
9 Daniel Cates
10 Mohsin Charania
11 Joseph Cheong
12 Shaun Deeb
13 Jonathan Duhamel
14 Tom Dwan
15 Eli Elezra
16 Antonio Esfandiari
17 Will “The Thrill” Failla
18 Andy Frankenberger
19 Phil Galfond
20 Matt Glantz
21 Barry Greenstein
22 Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier
23 Jennifer Harman
24 Brian Hastings
25 Isaac Haxton
26 Phil Hellmuth
27 John Hennigan
28 Maria Ho
29 Phil Ivey
30 Faraz Jaka
31 Kyle Julius
32 Eugene Katchalov
33 Phil Laak
34 Ben Lamb
35 Andrew Lichtenberger
36 Matt Matros
37 Mike Matusow
38 Jason Mercier
39 Greg Merson
40 Michael Mizrachi
41 Chris Moneymaker
42 John Monnette
43 Chris Moorman
44 Carlos Mortensen
45 Daniel Negreanu
46 David Oppenheim
47 Greg Raymer
48 Vanessa Rousso
49 Rob Salaburu
50 Matt Salsberg
51 Nick Schulman
52 Huck Seed
53 Erik Seidel
54 Scott Seiver
55 Joe Serock
56 Mike Sexton
57 Sam Simon
58 Dan Smith
59 Justin Smith
60 Jason Somerville
61 Jennifer Tilly
62 Yevgeniy Timoshenko
63 David Williams
64 Qualifier

The TV episodes will begin airing in March and run for six consecutive weeks.

Phil Hellmuth won the first running of the event in 2005, followed by Ted Forrest (2006), Paul Wasicka (2007), Chris Ferguson (2008), Huck Seed (2009), Annie Duke (2010) and Erik Seidel (2011). Forrest, Wasicka, Ferguson and Duke will not be returning this year.

The event did not run in 2012 in the wake of online poker’s Black Friday.

Players not on the list either declined their invitation or weren’t offered a seat. After the list was announced, poker pro David Sands took to Twitter in frustration.



almost 6 years ago

Gotta love Howard Lederer, his skag sister Annie Duke and Chris Ferguson not being there. They got rid of three bigger cheaters!


almost 6 years ago

How on earth are some of these names still on this list. Jennifer Tilly? Are f*&$#*g kidding. This bulls*&t show has zero to do with poker. Where the hell is Selbsts name? I hope she got the invite and shot them down. Greg Raymer are your serious? Moneymaker is the only has been that should always be invited. They gotta do better then this . At least a guy like Will the Thrill deserves a shot at some branding and getting his act in TV.


almost 6 years ago

I P Excellent point as usual on the Raymer and Tilly situation .
Now for you not to know who Will the thrill is kinda strange if you follow who's making noise in the poker world. This guy is a pure grinder that finally started winning some big tournaments a few years ago. Trust me this guy will get more TV coverage then anyone . he's a real character .
Check his stats this guy 100% earned his way to this invitation .


almost 6 years ago

Rob Salaburu & Gaelle Baumann? Really? All you have to do is make the top 12 of main event & you get more exposure than people who have been putting up great results constantly. Dunno how or who chose to send invites.


almost 6 years ago

Thanks for the link to the analysis .. It made my comment a lot shorter. So go read it folks!! In a made for TV event they have to consider the product going out to the screen. Doc Sands is someone who I would have liked to see .. they could have said that his girl (AM) needed to 'team' up with him and then that might have worked!!

I don't really pay attention to these shows since I am more interested in the poker aspect, not the entertainment aspect. 6 episodes really limits their ability to show any true poker skills but they are fun to watch if you run across them or can DVR or on-demand them.

It is also tough for poker players to commit to a 'one-game' show since most tournaments have more than just one event to try and enter. Also the $25k entry has to come from somewhere and poker sites and/or NBC might not be comping as much.

Lets go with the true TV final of Kid Poker against The Magic Man !!


almost 6 years ago

You'll post the brackets and start-times tonight as soon as they're done? Our bracket pool group is counting on you for the quick news, and time to make our choices! Go Doyle... ;)


almost 6 years ago

"Tony G, Vanessa Selbst, Joe Hachem, Jesse Sylvia, and Sam Trickett declined invitations.

Non-pros & celebrities who should have been invited: Guy Laliberte, Bill Perkins, David Einhorn, Michael Phelps, and Norman Chad.

Erick Lindgren did not get invited because he is a broke deadbeat. Matusow is in the same category and should not have been invited.

Johnny Chan is officially a "has been" and was not invited. John Hennigan and Huck Seed could be on that list soon, too."

This Tourney is slowly dying so the Pro's that declined their invitations saw the writing on the wall before anyone else.
This used to be a good tourneys but now it's full of tainted ignorant has been Pros looking for 5 more minutes of fame.


almost 6 years ago

You guys forget this is a made for TV event... Sorry to David Sands.. He obviously deserves to be there, but they are trying to attract viewers not poker pros... That is why it is called an "invitational" not "open". A non poker enthusiast or former viewer of all the poker shows, just flipping channels might find the show on NBC and say "hey... i remember that guy being fun to watch (Matasow)" and he will stop channel surfing. Same for Tilly... "hey isnt she that actress with big boobs." Again..sorry David Sands you aren't an actress and you don't have big boobs.

If this show gets ratings, maybe it spells the return of other poker shows, which Sands (and other unknowns to most viewers) could appear.