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NBC Heads Up Poker Championship Players Confirm

Only One Name Left to be Announced After Online Qualifier Ends

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Paul WasickaThe fourth-annual National Heads-Up Poker Championship has its confirmed roster of invited contestants, which includes a mixture of poker professionals, celebrities, and qualifiers. These players will converge in the Caesars Palace poker room on Feb. 29 to compete in one of poker’s premiere events, characterized by an NCAA-style bracket of one-on-one competitions with a $1.5 million prize pool on the line.

On Feb. 28, the players will draw names for the first single-elimination matchup at a pairing party in PURE Nightclub. CardPlayer.com will post an initialTed Forrest player bracket as soon as it is made available. Play begins the next day and continues through Sunday, March 2 when a best of three championship match will determine the winner. Familiar with these processes are the many NHPC veterans that have been invited back. All three previous NHPC champions are scheduled to compete, including 2005 champion Phil Hellmuth, 2006 champion Ted Forrest, and 2007 defending champion Paul Wasicka.

Other seasoned pros returning for another shot at the NHPC title are Daniel Negreanu, Gavin Smith, Gus Hansen, Antonio Esfandiari, and Phil Laak. LHuck Seed and Barry Greensteinooking to accomplish the improbable are Barry Greenstein, Huck Seed, T.J. Cloutier, Forrest, and Scott Fischman who have cashed in all three NHPC’s. They are all returning to attempt a fourth.

Click here to view a video with Wasicka, Cloutier, and newly invited contender Bill Edler disussing the upcoming event.

No one is immune to catching the poker bug, including Hollywood celebrities like Jason Alexander, Don Cheadle, Orel Hershiser, Jennifer Tilly, and Shannon Elizabeth, who have all accepted their exclusive invitiations. Last year, Elizabeth went further than another woman in NHPC history when she advanced to theShannon Elizabeth semifinals. As a recent change to the original roster of invited players, Everyone Loves Raymond’s Brad Garrett will not compete. Taking his place is 2003 World Series of Poker champion Chris Moneymaker.

Two of the four spots left for online and live qualifiers have been filled. Winning the only live qualifier was Hooman Nikzad. He is an accomplished pro-amateur player with almost half-a-million in toLeeann Tweedenurnament winnings from Scottsdale, Arizona. To view an interview with him about winning his NHPC seat, click here. The only name left to complete the full roster is from an online qualifier.

The host casino is the same, and many of the players are the same, but new to the NHPC is model and television personality Leeann Tweeden. The beauty has been brought on to conduct sideline reports and player interviews. The event will air on NBC over seven consecutive Sundays beginning on April 13 at 12 p.m. ET or 9 a.m. PT.

Click here to find the NHPC page on CardPlayer.com where a list of 2008 players and bios can be found, as well as results from previous events.