Annie Duke Wins 2010 NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship

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Each year the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship takes over the Caesars Palace poker room in Las Vegas to put on an invitation-only $1.5 million series of heads-up matches. The bracket-style action of the 64 players is popular with poker fans, and the presence of NBC Sports in preparation for eventual broadcast adds an air of excitement to the event. The sixth annual event prepared for action on March 4 with the drawing party to determine the starting match-ups, and the play got underway on March 5.

Day 1 began with the following pairings and results:

Clubs Bracket:

David Williams defeated Joe Cada
Chris Moneymaker defeated Patrik Antonius
Leo Wolpert defeated Eric Baldwin
Erik Seidel defeated Huck Seed
Erick Lindgren defeated Dan Ramirez
Peter Eastgate defeated Bertrand Grospellier
Stephen Quinn defeated Ted Forrest
Jamie Gold defeated Dario Minieri

Diamonds Bracket:

Sam Farha defeated Antonio Esfandiari
Barry Greenstein defeated Vanessa Rousso
Jennifer Harman defeated Jennifer Tilly
Jerry Yang defeated Mike Matusow
Darvin Moon defeated Bill Huntress
Annie Duke defeated Andy Bloch
Paul Wasicka defeated Andrew Wilson
Gus Hansen defeated Greg Raymer

Spades Bracket:

Jason Mercier defeated Daniel Negreanu
Phil Ivey defeated Gavin Smith
Scotty Nguyen defeated Richard Edwards
Joe Hachem defeated Shawn Rice
Gabe Kaplan defeated Johnny Chan
Pieter de Korver defeated Mike Sexton
Phil Gordon defeated Tom Dwan
Phil Laak defeated John Juanda

Hearts Bracket:

Phil Hellmuth defeated Howard Lederer
Allen Cunningham defeated Jesper Hougaard
Doyle Brunson defeated Brock Parker
Dennis Phillips defeated Kara Scott
JP Kelly v. Don Cheadle defeated JP Kelly
Eli Elezra defeated Greg Mueller
Annette Obrestad defeated Orel Hershiser
Chris Ferguson defeated Annette Dworski

Day 2 began with the 32 remaining players, and the following results were the first of the day:

Clubs & Spades Brackets:

Scotty Nguyen defeated Phil Ivey
Gabe Kaplan defeated Joe Hachem
Jason Mercier defeated Pieter de Korver
Phil Laak defeated Phil Gordon
Chris Moneymaker defeated Leo Wolpert
Erik Seidel defeated David Williams
Peter Eastgate defeated Erick Lindgren
Jamie Gold defeated Stephen Quinn

Diamonds & Hearts Brackets:

Annette Obrestad defeated Phil Hellmuth
Dennis Phillips defeated Chris Ferguson
Jerry Yang defeated Jennifer Harman
Paul Wasicka defeated Gus Hansen
Doyle Brunson defeated Don Cheadle
Barry Greenstein defeated Sammy Farha
Annie Duke defeated Darvin Moon
Eli Elezra defeated Allen Cunningham

The 16 remaining players returned to the poker room to play down one more level. Each person eliminated in the third round was guaranteed a $25,000 payout, but those who survived moved on to the Elite Eight.

Clubs & Spades Brackets:

Erik Seidel defeated Chris Moneymaker
Peter Eastgate defeated Jamie Gold
Scotty Nguyen defeated Gabe Kaplan
Jason Mercier defeated Phil Laak

Diamonds & Hearts Brackets:

Dennis Phillips defeated Eli Elezra
Doyle Brunson defeated Annette Obrestad
Jerry Yang defeated Barry Greenstein
Annie Duke defeated Paul Wasicka

The Elite Eight moved on to Day 3, where the matches would be played until only one player remained standing. It started with the following four pairings and results, and the losing players walked away with $75,000 for their efforts:

Clubs Bracket: Erik Seidel defeated Peter Eastgate
Spades Bracket: Scotty Nguyen defeated Jason Mercier
Hearts Bracket: Dennis Phillips defeated Doyle Brunson
Diamonds Bracket: Annie Duke defeated Jerry Yang

Round 5 was the semi-finals, and the two matches got underway on the afternoon of March 7 as follows:

Erik Seidel v. Scotty Nguyen
Dennis Phillips v. Annie Duke

Phillips started his match with Duke in the lead, but Duke quickly and aggressively took that lead. Phillips doubled up once to stay alive but soon attempted it again, that time with ad 8s. Duke called with pocket sevens, and the blank board of 9d 3d 2h 6c 4h eliminated Phillips with $125,000, and Duke prepared to be in the finals.

Nguyen also took an initial lead but lost it to Seidel. On a very short stack, Nguyen looked for an opportunity but played cautiously through a 9h td 5h 7d 9s board. Nguyen bet and when Seidel raised all-in, Nguyen called with kh 9d, but the trips were outdone by the 9c 7s full house of Seidel. Nguyen left with $125,000, and Seidel moved on to the finals.

The evening hours brought the best-of-three finals for Annie Duke and Erik Seidel, two long-time poker pros both eager to take this coveted title.

The first match started with Duke at a chip deficit but a quick comeback. The two went to see a 7h ks js flop, at which point Seidel moved all-in for 8s 6s, but Duke called with as kd and top pair. Seidel’s draw never got there on the jh turn or ah river, and Duke took down the first victory.

The second match started with Seidel in the lead again, but he never let it go. Duke was finally down to less than 100K in chips, and though she doubled up once, she needed to move again and pushed with kh 5d. Seidel called with 8s 7h, and the board of 6h 9d 4h 5h 9s gave him the straight. Seidel took the win to even the score and bring it to a final match.

The third and final match saw Duke with an immediate lead but Seidel taking it over. Duke then doubled up with qd 9d over the ad kd of Seidel when a queen hit on the flop and nines came on the turn and river. Seidel was then low on chips and pushed all-in with ah 2c. Duke called with pocket nines, and the board came 8h 6h 7c 5d 8s to provide a straight for Duke. Erik Seidel was eliminated in second place for which he received $250,000.

Annie Duke became the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Champion of 2010, for which she was awarded a trophy and $500,000.