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NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship -- Day 1

The Field Slices Down to 32 Players on the First Day of this Prestigious Event at Caesars Palace

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NBC Heads-Up LogoThe most prestigious poker invitational tournament of the year began today at 1:30 p.m. at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas when cards got into the air for the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship. During the course of the day 64 of the top names in poker battled in 32 heads-up battles to see who would advance in the clubs, spades, hearts, and diamonds brackets. Some of the matches played out how many poker fans thought that they would, while others produced upsets during the course of the day.

Card Player’s live reporting team was on hand to catch all of the action. Check out the recap for each of the brackets below and be sure to tune back in tomorrow at 1 p.m. PST for live udpates from the round of 32.

Huck SeedClubs Bracket

Chris Moneymaker def. Patrik Antonius
Leo Wolpert def. Eric Baldwin

David Williams def. Joe Cada
Erik Seidel def. Huck Seed (pictured right)

Erick Lindgren def. Dan Ramirez
Peter Eastgate def. Bertrand Grospellier

Stephen Quinn def. Ted Forrest
Jamie Gold def. Dario Minieri

The first match concluded when Chris Moneymaker defeated Patrik Antonius. The next triumphant player was also a former world champion. Jamie Gold defeated Dario Minieri when his pocket sevens topped the pocket deuces of the young, Italian Team PokerStars pro. Peter Eastgate took the run of World Series of Poker champion victories to three when he topped Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier. The next WSOP champion didn’t fair so well. The reigning world champion, Joe Cada, lost to David Williams on a coin flip. Cada held A-J but Williams won the hand with pocket sevens.

Two former champions of the event fell next, as Erik Seidel topped Huck Seed, and then qualifier Stephen Quinn topped Ted Forrest. Seed was the only player to cash in each of the previous five years of the event and he was also the defending champion. This year he goes home empty-handed in the first round though. Reigning Card Player Player of the Year Eric Baldwin was knocked out of the tournament next by reigning WSOP heads-up champion Leo Wolpert, and Erick Lindgren then defeated qualifier Dan Ramirez to finish out the round.

Vanessa RoussoDiamonds Bracket

Barry Greenstein def. Vanessa Rousso (pictured right)
Sam Farha def. Antonio Esfandiari

Jennifer Harman def. Jennifer Tilly
Jerry Yang def. Mike Matusow

Darvin Moon def. Bill Huntress
Annie Duke def. Andy Bloch

Paul Wasicka def. Andrew Wilson
Gus Hansen def. Greg Raymer

The first match to finish in the second round of the day took only 15 minutes to decide a winner. Sam Farha topped Antonio Esfandiari when his A-10 dominated the A-5 of the Magician and won the hand. Gus Hansen then defeated former world champion Greg Raymer, and that was followed by a victory for the 2007 NBC Heads-Up champion Paul Wasicka. He defeated qualifier Andrew Wilson with ace-high. Annie Duke then defeated the 2008 NBC Heads-Up runner-up Andy Bloch.

Jerry Yang kept the strong run by former world champions alive for the day when he topped Mike Matusow. Darvin Moon defeated qualifier Bill Huntress after that when his king-high held against a flush draw. Barry Greenstein then topped the defending NBC Heads-Up runner-up Vanessa Rousso. Greenstein held J-8 preflop and Rousso K-6 when a J-7-4-10-7 hit the table and the Go Daddy Girl was eliminated. A battle of Jennifer’s finished out the round, with Harman beating Tilly to advance.

Phil IveySpades Bracket

Phil Ivey (pictured right) def. Gavin Smith
Scotty Nguyen def. Richard Edwards

Joe Hachem def. Shawn Rice
Gabe Kaplan def. Johnny Chan

Jason Mercier def. Daniel Negreanu
Pieter de Korver def. Mike Sexton

Phil Gordon def. Tom Dwan
Phil Laak def. John Juanda

Jason Mercier scored the first victory in the round when he topped Daniel Negreanu early. Mercier held pocket queens against the pocket fives of Negreanu in the hand. Phil Gordon knocked out Tom Dwan next with pocket sevens holding strong against the A-Q of Durrrr. Phil Ivey held A-J to dominate the A-10 of Gavin Smith in the last hand of their match and Ivey advanced when the board ran out J-6-3-Q-3. Former world champion Joe Hachem knocked off Shawn Rice next. Rice was the only poker professional in the event who won his seat as a qualifier.

Reigning European Poker Tour Grand Final champion Pieter de Korver then defeated Mike Sexton, and Scotty Nguyen topped qualifier Richard Edwards. Johnny Chan then fell at the hands of Gabe Kaplan, and the round came to a close when Phil Laak topped John Juanda. Laak held A-2 preflop against the pocket sixes of Juanda on their final hand, and the board ran out A-K-Q-9-8 to give Laak the victory.

Doyle BrunsonHearts Bracket

Allen Cunningham def. Jesper Hougaard
Eli Elezra def. Greg Mueller

Chris Ferguson def. Annette Dworski
Dennis Phillips def. Kara Scott

Doyle Brunson (pictured right) def. Brock Parker
Don Cheadle def. J.P. Kelly

Phil Hellmuth def. Howard Lederer
Annette Obrestad def. Orel Hershiser

The winner of the first NBC Heads-Up event was also a winner in the last round of the evening tonight. Phil Hellmuth defeated Howard Lederer in 20 minutes. Doyle Brunson scored the next knockout punch when he topped Brock Parker. Brunson held A-Q preflop against the pocket eights of Parker and the board ran out Q-9-6-9-10. The 2008 NBC Heads-Up champion, Chris Ferguson, defeated qualifier Anette Dworski next, and that was followed by a victory by Allen Cunningham over Jesper Hougaard. Cunningham held A-2 preflop against the K-Q of Hougaard and the board fired all blanks.

Eli Elezra defeated Greg Mueller and then Dennis Phillips topped NBC Heads-Up rookie Kara Scott. She was all in with K-Q preflop and Phillips held pocket eights, which were enough to win the hand. Annette Obrestad defeated former MLB pitcher Orel Hershiser next when her K-Q led the whole way against the 10-9 of Hershiser. The day came to an end when actor Don Cheadle scored another impressive upset. He defeated J.P Kelly when his A-Q went to battle with Kelly’s pocket eights preflop. The board delivered K-Q-9-6-6 to give Cheadle the win and day 1 at the 2010 NBC Heads-Up Championship was in the books.