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NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship Lineup Announced

12 Former World Champions, Two Academy-Award Nominees, a Baseball Player, and 49 Others Slated to Play


Get your empty brackets ready, because poker's own March Madness is set to kick off in 10 days, and the roster of invitees has been announced.

The names of the 64 players to participate in this year's NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship (NHUPC) was just released, and included on the list are the names of 12 former World Series of Poker main-event champs, two Academy Award-nominated actors (Don Cheadle and Jennifer Tilly), and one former baseballer (Orel Hershiser, looking to repeat his successful run as an underdog last year).

The NHUPC will run from March 6-8 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and will be a bracket-style, single-elimination heads-up tournament, similar in format to the college basketball championship tournament. The final heads-up match is the only match that is not single elimination, as the last man standing needs to defeat his final foe in a best-of-three matchup. The winner of the event will pick up a cool half million dollars, while the runner-up will pocket $250,000.

The first-round matchups will be drawn for at the Draw Party at PURE Nightclub at Caesars Palace on Thursday, March 5. (the sponsor of the event) will have its CEO and founder Bob Parsons on hand to draw the names, and Go Daddy Girl Candice Michelle will award the big check and trophy to the winner on the final day of play, March 8.

Here is an alphabetical listing of the invited players:

David Benyamine
Andy Bloch
Chad Brown
Doyle Brunson
Johnny Chan
Don Cheadle
Glen Chorny
Allen Cunningham
Ivan Demidov
Annie Duke
Tom Dwan
Peter Eastgate
Eli Elezra
Antonio Esfandiari
Sam Farha
Chris Ferguson
Scott Fischman
Layne Flack
Ted Forrest
Brad Garrett
Jamie Gold
Clonie Gowen
Barry Greenstein
Gavin Griffin
Bertrand Grospellier
Joe Hachem
Gus Hansen
Jennifer Harman
Phil Hellmuth
Orel Hershiser
Jeffrey Ishbia (Caesars qualifier)
Phil Ivey
John Juanda
Gabe Kaplan
Phil Laak
Howard Lederer
Erick Lindgren
Jonathan Little
Mike Matusow
Dario Minieri
Chris Moneymaker
Daniel Negreanu
Scotty Nguyen
David Pham
John Phan
Greg Raymer
Vanessa Rousso
Ilari Sahamies
Huck Seed
Vanessa Selbst
Erik Seidel
Mike Sexton
Gavin Smith
Jennifer Tilly
J.C. Tran
Kenny Tran
Paul Wasicka
David Williams
Jerry Yang
Leon Yanovski (online qualifier)
TBD (Caesars qualifier)
TBD (online qualifier)
TBD (online qualifier)
TBD (online qualifier)