Poker Coverage:

NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship -- Day 1

Don Cheadle Supplies Another First-Round Upset as 32 Players Survive


Clubs Baracket Group ShotThe first day of play at the 2009 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship saw 64 players enter the ring in the hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades brackets at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. At the end of the night, 32 players remained. These survivors will take their seats in the round of 32 in two groups tomorrow. The first group will feature the hearts and diamonds survivors, and the second group features the clubs and spades survivors.

The final 16 who emerge from these early rounds tomorrow all will have made the money and at least $25,000. The Sweet Sixteen will end day 2 tomorrow night. Second-round action will begin at 1 p.m. tomorrow, and Card Player will bring you all of the action as the field loses 24 more players.

Check out the full tournament bracket for an overview of the most current results.

Here is a look at the highlights from each bracket on day 1:

Hearts Bracket

The hearts bracket was the most business-like of the day to kick things off. Allen Cunningham, last year's runner-up Andy Bloch, and Erik Seidel fell early, while Sam Farha, Peter Eastgate, and John Phan advanced at their expense, respectively. Seidel was eliminated in the first round for the fifth year in a row, which is now a record. The next flurry of bustouts in the bracket sent Howard Lederer, Johnny Chan, and Clonie Gowen to the rail, and Erick Lindgren, Eli Elezra, and Jerry Yang into round two.

Scott Fischman then kept his consecutive-cash-streak hopes alive by defeating Jamie Gold to advance to the round of 32. Fischman and Huck Seed are the only two players to cash every year at the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship since it first started in 2005. The longest match during this bracket provided the biggest surprise when David Williams defeated J.C. Tran to advance and end action in the hearts bracket for the day.

Hearts Bracket Results

Diamonds Bracket

A change of plans was apparent when the first round began in the diamonds bracket and David Oppenheim was filling in for Layne Flack, who was unable to make it to the match because of a DUI incident. Oppenheim won his opening-round match against Vanessa Selbst, and he advanced to round two tomorrow. Huck Seed also kept his five-consecutive-cash-streak hopes alive when he defeated Jonathan Little to advance to day two. Glen Chorny then defeated 2007 runner-up Chad Brown, and Jennifer Harman eliminated Greg Raymer. Kenny Tran defeated Antonio Esfandiari, and Gus Hansen beat David Benyamine to leave all but two matches decided.

Brad Garrett pulled off the first celebrity upset when he topped Annie Duke to advance to the next round. Garrett was the most animated player of the day, by far, and he quickly became a fan favorite. The final match of the diamonds bracket almost provided a second upset in the bracket. Kenny Yeh took Phil Laak to the limit before the Unabomber was able to hold off the online qualifier to advance.

Diamonds Bracket

Clubs Bracket

The third flight of the day began after dinner at 7 p.m. and it brought the second major upset of the day from a familiar bracket-buster. Phil Ivey promptly defeated Jennifer Tilly to start the second half of play, and then Vanessa Rousso defeated Doyle Brunson to advance. Daniel Negreanu ousted Chris Moneymaker next at the featured table, and then 2006 NBC Heads-Up Champion Ted Forrest put last year's Cinderella to rest when he defeated Orel Hershiser.

Another former champion prevailed when Paul Wasicka beat online qualifier Nicholas Joy, and then Don Cheadle once again pulled off the largest upset of the first round when he defeated one of the most feared heads-up players in the world, David "The Dragon" Pham, to advance to the round of 32 tomorrow. Dario Minieri won the final match in the exciting clubs bracket when he beat Mike Matusow in one of the best matches in the first round.

Clubs Bracket Resulsts

Spades Bracket

The spades bracket took a little while to build up steam at the end of the night, but once the eliminations began, they came fast. John Juanda was the first to wrap things up against his opponent in this bracket when he defeated Joe Hachem. Phil Hellmuth won his match against Mike Sexton at the featured table and kept alive his campaign to become the first repeat champion in NBC Heads-Up history. The Poker Brat won the inaugural title in 2005.

Barry Greenstein then won a PokerStars battle when he defeated online qualifier Blandino Gines, and then the only first round-battle between two online qualifiers was won by Jeffrey Ishbia, who defeated Leon Yanovski to advance to tomorrow. The eliminations just kept coming at that point, when Ilari "Ziigmund" Saharies hit a jack on the river to give his opponent Gavin Smith his only first-round elimination in the history of the event. Gabe Kaplan then scored another win for the celebrities when he eliminated defending champion Chris Ferguson.

Another tough first-round match was won by Tom Dwan when he defeated Gavin Griffin to advance to day 2 in the battle between the two young poker superstars. The last match of the night came down to another PokerStars battle, and online qualifier Fred Collins doubled up multiple times against Bertrand Grospellier to survive for a while. Grospellier eventually prevailed, and he was the 32nd player to advance to day 2.

Spades Bracket Results




almost 14 years ago

Say it ain't so, LUCK a factor in POKER??? :-)