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NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship -- Day 2

Elite Eight Stacked With Notable Poker Superstars

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Phil HellmuthThe NBC National Heads-Up Championship is always one of the more prestigious events of the year. Sure, the blinds are fast and some of the more deserving players are left on the outside looking in, but there's no denying that the tournament features the best players in the game.

In the past, that cream has not always risen to the top in all areas of the bracket. Sure, the likes of Ted Forrest and Chris Ferguson have won the title, but there have also been celebrity Cinderellas and never-say-die qualifiers that left many onlookers scratching their heads in disbelief.

The 2009 version is not only shaping up to be one the most anticipated televised poker shows in the series, but, before all is said and done, it may be one of the most memorable poker broadcasts of all time.

Here's a look at the action, bracket by bracket, as the field played down from 32 to eight. Click here for a look at the complete bracket.


Hearts Bracket -- Sam Farha vs. David Williams

Hearts Bracket

David WilliamsScott Fischman came into the day hoping to be one of the first players to cash in all five years of the NBC National Heads-Up Championship, but he was upset in the first round of the day by David Williams. Both players went back and forth with the lead several times before Williams and his pocket fours held up against K-2 to advance. Williams then overcame bad luck in his Sweet Sixteen match with Erick Lindgren to advance to the Elite Eight.

World Series of Poker main-event Champion Peter Eastgate was hoping to cash in his first-ever attempt, but cash-game veteran Sam Farha battled back from a deficit to take the lead and ultimately take the European out of the tournament. Farha continued his run to the Elite Eight by besting reigning Card Player Player of the Year John Phan.


Diamonds Bracket - David Oppenheim vs. Huck Seed


Diamonds Bracket

Huck SeedKenny Tran was looking to win his second major heads-up title after taking down the WSOP version last summer, but he ran into David Oppenheim in the Sweet Sixteen to end his tournament. Oppenheim, who took over for Layne Flack shortly before the tournament began, has made the most of his last-minute opportunity to reach the Elite Eight. This run comes just after his semi-final finish at the L.A. Poker Classic's heads-up event.

Huck Seed took out Gus Hansen to do what Scott Fischman could not. With his victory, Huck Seed became the only player to cash in all five tournaments since its inception in 2005. In addition, Seed coolered Glen Chorny in the Sweet Sixteen to advance even further, hoping to top last year's semi-final finish.


Spades Bracket - Bertrand Grospellier vs. Phil Hellmuth

Spades Bracket

Bertrand GrospellierTeam PokerStars scored one of its three Elite Eight members when Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier took out John Juanda in the Sweet Sixteen. Grospellier, who took out fellow European Ilari "Ziigmund" Sahamies to make the money, is no stranger to heads-up competition. In September of 2008, Grospellier finished runner-up in the $25,000 World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) heads-up competition. That finish netted him $320,000, but a victory on Sunday will bank him $500,000.

Former champion Phil Hellmuth took out satellite qualifier Jeffrey Ishbia to face off against Tom "durrrr" Dwan in the Sweet Sixteen. The two met the year before, when Dwan's pocket tens hit a set on the river against Hellmuth's pocket aces just three hands into their match. This time, it was Hellmuth who came out on top and will now take on ElkY for a birth in the Final Four.


Clubs Bracket - Vanessa Rousso vs. Daniel Negreanu

Clubs Bracket

Vanessa RoussoOne-time champion Paul Wasicka had a fairly easy road to the money after beating online qualifier Nicholas Joy and Oscar-nominated actor Don Cheadle, but the former WSOP main event runner-up ran smack into one of the hottest players in the tournament. Vanessa Rousso had a much different path to the sweet sixteen, having to overcome the legendary Doyle Brunson and one of the greatest players in the world, Phil Ivey. Rousso grinded down Wasicka and eventually her turned two pair were enough to advance.

Daniel NegreanuRousso will be playing fellow Team PokerStars pro Daniel Negreanu after one of the most entertaining matchups of the day. Negreanu, knowing he was up against the never-camera-shy Scotty Nguyen, decided to dress up like his opponent, donning a wig, loud gold jewelry, and and opaque sunglasses. Negreanu even developed his accent while finding ways to incorporate the word "baby" into nearly every sentence. The match pretty much went Negreanu's way from the beginning, and before long, Negreanu's flopped straight showed Nguyen the door.

Here is look at the Elite Eight matchups, which will commence Sunday at 11:00 a.m. PST.

 Elite Eight Matchups