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Chris Ferguson Reaches Final Four Second Straight Year

National Heads-Up Championship Ends Sunday on NBC

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Sunday was the day the field of eight was cut in two at the NBC National Heads-Up Championship, and even though this is only the second year for the tournament, only one man has been here before.

Chris "Jesus" Ferguson repeated his run of last year and made it to the final four. Last year, he made it to the final two before finally falling to Phil Hellmuth. This year, Hellmuth didn't even make it out of the first round. Ferguson, on the other hand, has again put himself in position to win it.

Joining Ferguson in the final four are Ted Forrest, Sean Sheikhan, and Huck Seed. The winner of the event receives $500,000.

The country saw Ferguson defeat author and World Series of Poker main event final table participant Jim McManus. McManus wrote Positively Fifth Street, which chronicled his improbable run to the final table of the 2000 WSOP, which Ferguson won. McManus finished fifth.

The cards seemed to be falling correctly in order for McManus to advance. He was dealt pocket aces twice, but was able only to win small pots with them. Eventually, the blinds got to him, and he went out holding a middle pair with Ferguson holding top pair with 9-7. Ferguson will have to get through Sheikhan in order to repeat a trip to the final two.

Sheikhan was a definite underdog in his quarterfinal battle, but came out ahead against Daniel Negreanu. On one of the key hands, Sheikhan bluffed Negreanu out of a large pot when a third club hit the board on the river. Negreanu's pair of sevens (he held 9-7) was good if he held his hand, but Sheikhan went all in after Negreanu bet 20,000 chips on the river, and the move let him take the big pot down. Negreanu couldn't recover and was soon eliminated.

Seed made it to the last episode by beating Barry Greenstein in the quarterfinal round. It was a frustrating day for Greenstein. It seemed every time he tried to raise, Seed would either call with the best hand or come over the top. Seed's strategy worked, and he got to the final four by taking many small and medium pots from Greenstein until all the chips were in front of him. Seed faces Forrest in the semifinals.

Forrest made it past Sam Farha to get to this point in a match that featured two players who were willing to put their chips in the middle of the table fast, but Forrest was the luckier player. Farha controlled the match most of the time, but the cards wouldn't let him advance. He even had a straight busted on the river (a queen gave Forrest a higher one), and repeatedly found his way into the pot with the best hand, only to come out a loser. Players have to win races to win these tourneys, and it just wasn't Farha's day.

The NBC National Heads-Up Championship took place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas March 4-6. CardPlayer.com's complete coverage of the event can be found here, but be warned: It reveals the winner of the tournament.

To watch how the tournament ended up, tune in to NBC next Sunday (May 21) at 1 p.m. EST for the two-hour finale.