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Paul Wasicka Wins National Heads-Up Championship

Wasicka Defeats Chad Brown in Heads-Up Finals, Earns $500,000 for His First-Place Finish

The 2007 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship packed the best parts of March Madness into one day. Play started with the Elite Eight, and, after the Final Four round, concluded with the championship match, and the crowning of the NHUC's newest $500,000 first-place finisher.

Elite Eight

Spade Bracket/Club Bracket

At 11:30 a.m. PST, the combined field of the spade and club brackets returned to the Caesars Palace cardroom for the first heat of the Elite Eight. Blinds for the round opened at $800-$1,600 and players started with $160,000 stacks.

At the featured table, Shannon Elizabeth attempted her third outright upset as she faced Humberto Brenes. Having already defeated heavy favorites Jeff Madsen and Barry Greenstein, Elizabeth became the first player to advance to the Final Four after her K 10 held against Brenes K 3.

While Elizabeth wasted no time in overcoming an early deficit, Paul Wasicka endured a back-and-forth contest with his opponent, Nam Le. A series of lead changes included a pair of double-ups for each player. Le's all in wins helped him rebound from a $234,200 disadvantage, but Wasicka, who first doubled up with a rivered deuce (A-2) to crack Le's A-6, ended the match when his A Q paired a queen and bested a short-stacked Le's 9 2.

Club Bracket result:

Shannon Elizabeth over Humberto Brenes ($75,000)

Spade Bracket result:

Paul Wasicka over Nam Le ($75,000)

Next-round match up:

Shannon Elizabeth vs. Paul Wasicka

Heart Bracket/Diamond Bracket

Elite Eight play in the heart and diamond brackets began at 2 p.m. PST, and saw the tournament's other remaining female player, Kristy Gazes, battle Chad Brown at the featured table. Brown built a substantial lead, and eliminated Gazes from the NHUC with top two pair against top pair.

Despite doubling up Andy Bloch twice, Gavin Smith won an all-in hand of his own (flopped two pair) to retake the chip lead. On the following hand, Smith's A-K held against Bloch's A-9, and the reigning WPT Player of the Year advanced to the semifinals round.

Heart Bracket results:

Chad Brown over Kristy Gazes ($75,000)

Diamond Bracket results:

Gavin Smith over Andy Bloch ($75,000)

Next-round match up:

Gavin Smith vs. Chad Brown

Final Four

For the first time in the NBC Heads-Up Championship the players from all four brackets joined together on the televised stage. Final Four play began at 5:30 p.m. with $1,500-$3,000 blinds and $320,000 starting stacks.

Following a big loss when his trip queens ran into Brown's trip queens with a better kicker, Smith avoided elimination after his 7 6 cracked Brown's pocket tens courtesy of a rivered straight.

Even with the double-up, Smith remained unable to catch his opponent, and, at 6:31 p.m., Brown became the first player to advance to the Championship round, when, holding pocket aces, he called Smith's all-in raise with pocket fives.

At the featured table, Elizabeth appeared poised to take down another high-profile opponent as she jumped out to a 5-to-1 chip lead over Wasicka.

With crowds of supporters on opposite sides of the televised set, Elizabeth and Wasicka provided arguably one of the biggest hands of the day. All in preflop with pocket tens, Wasicka's lead disappeared when Elizabeth's A Q paired a queen, but the 2006 WSOP runner-up rivered a straight to win the hand.

The pair battled for another 40 minutes before Wasicka ended Elizabeth's bracket-busting run when his A K stayed ahead of her 6 5.

Final Four results:

Chad Brown over Gavin Smith ($125,000)
Paul Wasicka over Shannon Elizabeth ($125,000)

Next-round match up:

Paul Wasicka vs. Chad Brown

Championship Round

At 9 p.m. PST, the two survivors of the 64-player starting field took their seats at the final table of the 2007 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship. The best-of-three contest opened with $5,000-$10,000 blinds and $640,000 stacks.

Match one began with Brown taking the chip lead, but Wasicka moved into first by taking down a number of small and medium sized pots.

The gap grew to a near 3-to-1 advantage, and, even after doubling up Brown three times, Wasicka scored a match one victory after his 8 6 call on a 6 3 3 flop held against Brown's A J.

In the second match, Wasicka continued to experience success. At 11:14 p.m., and after building yet another sizable chip lead ($924,000 to $356,000), Wasicka ended the 2007 NHUC.

On a K 10 9 flop, Wasicka called Brown's all-in reraise. Brown showed the K 4 for top pair, but Wasicka turned over the Q J, giving the Colorado native the hand-winning straight and the 2007 NBC National Heads-Up Championship title.

Brown took home $250,000 for his runner-up finish.

In his first-ever tournament win, Wasicka netted $500,000 and an event trophy. The victory, combined with a fourth-place finish at the 2007 L.A. Poker Classic, put Wasicka's March winnings alone over the $900,000 mark.

Money aside, the NHUC win also meant that 2006's most famous second-place finisher deserved a new title...champion.