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NBC National Heads-up Poker Championship Field Announced

Seven Online Qualifiers Included in the Field This Year


NBC Heads-Up Poker ChampionshipAfter weeks of speculation, the full list of professional and celebrity names was announced today for the upcoming NBC Heads-up Poker Championship.

The list contains many familiar names to past NBC championships, but there are a number of new faces this year as the invitation committee decided to bring in a bunch of players who will make their debut at this year’s heads-up tournament.

2007 World Series of Poker Europe champion Annette Obrestad, who just recently turned 21, will compete in her first NBC Heads-up Championship, as will High Stakes Poker’s new host Kara Scott.

Twenty-two players had already qualified for the prestigious 64-person event, which will take place March 4-7, but not all of them are going to play. Both Jeffrey Lisandro (who qualified as a result of being the reigning WSOP Player of the Year, as well as a multi-bracelet winner from 2009) and Barry Shulman (who qualified as reigning WSOP Europe champion) were not included on today’s list.

Automatic qualifiers who are on the list include Joe Cada, Darvin Moon, Peter Eastgate, Jerry Yang, Phil Ivey, Sam Farha, Brock Parker, Greg Mueller, Leo Wolpert, Peiter de Korver, Eric Baldwin, and Jason Mercier.

Annette ObrestadPlayers qualified as a result of their performance in past WSOPs and select tournaments around the world.

The last five winners of the heads-up event (Huck Seed, Chris Ferguson, Paul Wasicka, Ted Forrest, and Phil Hellmuth) and the last two runner-ups (Vannessa Rousso and Andy Bloch) also received automatic entries.

Many pros who were invites to participate in the 2010 event were seemingly self-explanatory — such as Patrik Antonius, Doyle Brunson, Tom Dwan, Annie Duke, Eli Elezra, Antonio Esfandiari, Gus Hansen, Mike Matusow, Chris Moneymaker, Daniel Negreanu, Scotty Nguyen, and Mike Sexton.

Brunson had previously blogged that he would not play in the event, but NBC has included him on their official list.

In his Card Player blog, Brunson wrote: “I’ve got an invitation to play in a big Poker Stars TV tournament and immediately afterwards is the NBC Heads Up Championship. I’ll have to bow out of all these tournaments because there is no use playing unless you are at your best. The competition has gotten so good you need to feel good physically as well as mentally to have a chance to win.”

A few players who aren’t as well known to the poker community at large were invited to participate in the 64-person field, including Jesper Hougaard and John Paul Kelly, who both won a WSOP and a WSOPE bracelet in a single calendar year in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

Huck Seed won last year's event.As has become tradition at this tournament, a number of celebrities will also be in the field. The 2010 field includes Don Cheadle, Orel Hershiser, Gabe Kaplan, and Jennifer Tilly.

Many players who were invited to or had qualified for the 2009 event either were not invited back or declined to play in the 2010 event, including Layne Flack, Chad Brown, Scott Fischman, Ivan Demidov, David Pham, John Phan, Kenny Tran, Jonathan Little, Glen Chorny, Brad Garrett, Gavin Griffin, Vanessa Selbst, David Benyamine, Clonie Gowen, J.C. Tran, and Ilari “Ziigmund” Sahamies.

A record seven internet qualifies will be included in the 2010 field.

The tournament runs March 4-7 at Caesars Palace. Invited and qualified players (with the exception of internet qualifiers) will be required to put up $20,000 to play. Check back to for live updates and special features during the event.

The complete list, in alphabetical order, can be found below:

Patrik Antonius
Eric Baldwin
Andy Bloch
Doyle Brunson
Joe Cada
Johnny Chan
Don Cheadle
Allen Cunningham
Pieter de Korver
Annie Duke
Tom Dwan
Peter Eastgate
Eli Elezra
Antonio Esfandiari
Sam Farha
Chris Ferguson
Ted Forrest
Jamie Gold
Phil Gordon
Barry Greenstein
Bertrand Grospellier
Joe Hachem
Gus Hansen
Jennifer Harman
Phil Hellmuth
Orel Hershiser
Jesper Hougaard
Phil Ivey
John Juanda
Gabe Kaplan
John Paul Kelly
Phil Laak
Howard Lederer
Erick Lindgren
Mike Matusow
Jason Mercier
Dario Minieri
Chris Moneymaker
Darvin Moon
Greg Mueller
Daniel Negreanu
Scotty Nguyen
Annette Obrestad
Brock Parker
Dennis Phillips
Greg Raymer
Vanessa Rousso
Kara Scott
Huck Seed
Erik Seidel
Mike Sexton
Gavin Smith
Jennifer Tilly
Paul Wasicka
David Williams
Leo Wolpert
Jerry Yang
Plus: Seven Online Qualifiers



almost 8 years ago

For whatever reason, they're calling the two seats give out at Caesars' "Internet qualifiers". One of those winners is UB pro Shawn Rice.


almost 8 years ago

Annie Duke. Seriously?


almost 8 years ago

Too many internet qualifiers. 4 is OK, one for each region at the very most but 1 is best.


almost 8 years ago

when does the bracket part come out?


almost 8 years ago

Mizzou -- the drawing party is on late Wednesday night, March 3, so the official bracket will only be available after that. We'll be releasing it ASAP here on for you guys to print out/follow along.


almost 8 years ago

how does jennifer tilly keep making the list for these events? She is horrible at poker and is not very interesting anymore. At least in my opionion


almost 8 years ago

Jennifer Tilly is a celebrity?


almost 8 years ago

Oops, I take it back, Mizzou -- the drawing party is late on March 4, actually. Tomorrow night.