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NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship Day 1 Results

32 Players Remain After Some Great First Round Match-Ups


The NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship has returned for it’s eighth running this year. Once again, 64 of poker’s best players and brightest stars have turned out for this no-limit hold’em heads-up shootout invitational event. After a long day of play, the first round is complete and only 32 players remain. Here is a look at the day’s results broken down into quarters represented by the four suits.

Spades Bracket

D’oh! - Co-creator of The Simpsons Sam Simon overcame high-stakes cash game regular David Oppenheim and will next face another top cash-game player in John Hennigan.

Online pro, live tournament - Viktor “Isildur1” Blom has played some of the largest heads-up cash games in the history of poker, taking seven figure swings in a matter of hours while sitting in front of his computer. Although he has had success in live tournaments before, he is not seen on the live circuit nearly as much as his first round opponent Andrew “luckychewy” Lichtenberger. This match went the longest of any in the spades bracket, and in the end Blom prevailed.

Frying pan, fire - Justin Bonomo topped his friend Isaac Haxton in the first round. Before play began Bonomo lamented his draw. “First I have to play the best online player. If I win, I have to play the best live player.” The second player he’s referring to is none other than Phil Ivey, undeniably one of the most accomplished and intimidating players to ever play the game.

Hearts Bracket

Watch the news!- qualifier Bruce Miller won his first round match against Jean-Robert Bellande. The Las Vegas resident gained entry to this event as a result of watching the local evening news. One broadcast announced a password, which the retired great grandfather of three entered into the WSOP’s web poker client, and a few weeks ago he received an email saying that he’d won the contest. Now he is one more win away from a five-figure payday and one step closer to the title.

Rematch- In the 2011 running of this tournament, Eugene Katchalov topped Faraz Jaka in the first round, flopping top set against Jaka’s two pair to end one of the quickest matches of the tournament. Jaka was probably looking for a bit of revenge when he drew Katchalov as his first round opponent again. The result was the same, however, as this time around the last of the money got in preflop in a coinflip situation and Katchalov’s pocket eights were able to hold up against Jaka’s AHeart SuitJHeart Suit.

Ladies Love Cool Justin- Justin Smith ran pocket queens into pocket kings and was a strong favorite to hit the rail early in his match with Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier. The flop and the turn changed nothing, but the QClub Suit on the river changed everything. As a result, Grospellier was left with a short stack that he could not recover from while Smith moved into the next round.

Clubs Bracket

Money men- Antonio Esfandiari defeated Jennifer Tilly and Jonathan Duhamel overcame Matt Glantz to set up an interesting round two clash. These two players share a common trait in that they have both recently had the distinction of being the highest earner of the year on the tournament circuit. In 2012 Esfandiari cashed for just under $19 million dollars, $18.3 of which came from his win in the $1 million buy-in Big One For One Drop. In 2010 Duhamel won the World Series of Poker main event, and as a result topped the earnings list with $8.9 million. The two have combined lifetime earnings in excess of $34.5 million, and one of them will increase their number by winning tomorrow.

Runner-up race- Vanessa Rousso and Yevgeniy Timoshenko both have had success in heads-up shootout tournaments previously, with Rousso’s best showing being a runner-up finish in this event in 2009, while Timoshenko came in second in the 2011 WSOP $25,000 heads-up no-limit hold’em championship. Rousso emerged victorious from this first round battle and continues her quest to improve on her prior best finish.

Diamonds Bracket

Two-time champ?- 2009 NBC National Heads-Up Championship winner Huck Seed topped Mohsin Charania to join 2005 champ PHil Hellmuth as the only two prior winners of this event remaining. Four prior champions where not in attendance (Annie Duke, Chris Ferguson, Ted Forrest and Paul Wasicka), and the only other previous winner to play was Erik Seidel, who lost in this round to Tom “Durrrr” Dwan.

Dan Smith continues hot form- In 2012 Dan Smith won six titles, made nine final tables and cashed for nearly $3.7 million. He finished in second place in the Card Player Player of the Year race by the smallest margin in recent memory. He had a tough draw in the first round, but was able to beat Jason Mercier to move on to a second-round match against 2012 WSOP main event 10th place finisher Gaelle Baumann.

Here is a look at the complete bracket. Click the image to see a higher resolution version.