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Round One of NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship

Tom Dwan Sucks Out on Phil Hellmuth to Advance on Hand No. 3


The first round of the 2008 NBC National Heads-Up Championship got under way this morning as 64 professionals and celebrities battled it out to advance to the round of 32. The day was broken down into four separate fields as each bracket, diamonds, clubs, hearts, and spades, competed within themselves to whittle down the field.

Click here to view the complete bracket.

The day got under way with the hearts bracket, which consisted of:

Ted Forrest vs. Orel Hershiser

The SetLast year’s final table of Chad Brown and Paul Wasicka was quickly eliminated when Freddy Deeb and Allen Cunningham advanced with relative ease. Scott Fischman flopped a set on Brunson to advance past the first round for the fourth consecutive year.

Jamie Gold beat out amateur Tom Kelly to keep his hopes alive, and then Orel Hershiser upset the 2006 winner, Forrest. Last year’s Cinderella story of Shannon Elizabeth never got anything going as she succumbed to Andy Bloch, and Vanessa Rousso was able to outlast her fiancée after beating Antonio Esfandiari. Despite having a big chip lead at one point, Jean-Robert Bellande faltered, and his match went to Sam Grizzle.

After a short break, the diamonds bracket started up, looking like this:

Doyle BrunsonDoyle Brunson started his match off with a flurry of all-ins, eventually cracking Sam Farha’s A-Q with his own K-Q by catching a king on the turn for all of the chips. Barry Greenstein made quick work of Howard Lederer, and Michael Mizrachi did the same over at the featured table in his match with Daniel Negreanu.

After Huck Seed busted actor Jason Alexander, Clonie Gowen hit a flush on the river to eliminate Jennifer Tilly. David Pham got it all in with pocket nines against the 10-9 of Brian Towsend, but the young cash-game wizard hit trip tens on the flop to bust the 2007 Card Player Player of the Year.

The remaining two marathon matches were determined by the large blinds as Jennifer Harman and Eli Elezra fell to David Benyamine and Erick Lindgren, respectively.

Arguably the toughest bracket in play, the clubs sat down next for their turn, consisting of:

Phil Hellmuths Aces Are CrackedDraw outs were the norm for everyone in this portion of the field, as player after player went in with the worst of it, only to come out on top. On just the third hand of play, Tom “durrrr” Dwan and Phil Hellmuth got it all in. Dwan held pocket tens and was behind the pocket aces of Hellmuth, but a 10 on the turn left the L.A. Poker Classic final tablist reeling.

The trend continued as Greg Raymer hit a two-outer to bust Hooman Nikzad. Joe Hachem, John Juanda, and Kenny Tran all got lucky to stay alive in their matches, but things balanced out in the end. The three players were eliminated by Scott Clements, Mike Matusow, and Chris Ferguson, respectively. Gavin Smith was short-stacked and in trouble, but two suckouts and a coin flip later, he moved on, and Tom Schneider was left wondering what hit him.

Jonathan Little had a back-and-forth battle with Erik Seidel, but he got the best of it when all was said and done. After Gabe Kaplan upset Patrik Antonius, the club bracket was done, as the spade bracket loomed in the distance.

The spade bracket players took their seats for the final round of the night, and the match-ups looked like this.

Phil Ivey vs. Alisha Kunze

Jerry Yang, Four on the RiverThe spade bracket picked up where the club bracket left off, as Jerry Yang got it in with pocket fours against the pocket tens of Chris Moneymaker and hit a 4 on the river. Both Bill Edler and Scotty Nguyen flopped a flush to get all of their chips in the middle, but Nguyen’s king-high flush sent Edler to the rail.

Phil Laak made a flush against David Singer’s two pair to knock him out, and then Johnny Chan’s pocket jacks held to bust David Williams. Pocket jacks weren’t so great for actor Don Cheadle however, as Gus Hansen hit his overcard to send his opponent packing.

Annie Duke got her remaining stack in with a dominated 10 and was eliminated when J.C. Tran made two pair on the river. PokerStars qualifier Alisha Kunze made a valiant effort, at one point having Ivey down to his last 5,000 in chips, but ultimately she was eliminated after Ivey won a race for all of the chips. The last remaining match between Daniel Schreiber and T.J. Cloutier was a marathon, but Cloutier outflopped Schreiber’s A-J two hands in a row to send the online pro home.

Tomorrow’s matches will look like this:


Vanessa Rousso vs. Andy Bloch
Scott Fischman vs. Jamie Gold
Orel Hershisher vs. Allen Cunningham
Sam Grizzle vs. Freddy Deeb


Huck Seed vs. Brian Townsend
Clonie Gowen vs. Michael Mizrachi
Barry Greenstein vs. David Benyamine
Doyle Brunson vs. Erick Lindgren


Jonathan Little vs. Gabe Kaplan
Greg Raymer vs. Scott Clements
Mike Matusow vs. Tom Dwan
Gavin Smith vs. Chris Ferguson


Gus Hansen vs. Scotty Nguyen
Jerry Yang vs. Phil Laak
Phil Ivey vs. Johnny Chan
JC Tran vs. TJ Cloutier

The action will get under way tomorrow at 11:15 a.m. PST. Stay tuned to for an updated bracket and photos of all of today’s action.



over 13 years ago

whens it air on nbc ?


over 13 years ago

"Joe Hachem, Chris Ferguson, and Kenny Tran all got lucky to stay alive in their matches, but things balanced out in the end. All three players were eliminated by Scott Clements, Mike Matusow, and John Juanda, respectively."

Actually Chris beat John Juanda. You might want to fix that.