Huck Seed Wins NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship

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By Jennifer Newell The much-anticipated NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship returned to Las Vegas in early March for its fifth season. Players and fans anxiously awaited the list of players, which predictably consisted of many of the most notable and successful players in the world. And finally, on March 5, the drawing party was held at PURE Nightclub at Caesars Palace to determine the match-ups and bracket positions. With that, the first round kicked off the tournament on Friday, March 6, and the starting field of 64 eventually ended with 32 survivors - eight in each bracket. The only change in the line-up was noted early in the day, as Layne Flack was unable to attend due to his arrest the night before. He was charged with DUI, speeding, and failure to yield, though he released a statement upon his bailed release noting that he was not under the influence. Regardless, David Oppenheim was the alternate player chosen to play in place of Flack. When the exciting day came to an end, the results were: Hearts bracket: Eli Elezra defeated Johnny Chan Erick Lindgren defeated Howard Lederer David Williams defeated J.C. Tran Scott Fischman defeated Jamie Gold John Phan defeated Erik Seidel Jerry Yang defeated Clonie Gowen Sam Farha defeated Allen Cunningham Peter Eastgate defeated Andy Bloch Diamonds bracket: Kenny Tran defeated Antonio Esfandiari Jennifer Harman defeated Greg Raymer Phil Laak defeated Kenny Yeh David Oppenheim defeated Vanessa Selbst Gus Hansen defeated David Benyamine Huck Seed defeated Jonathan Little Glen Chorny defeated Chad Brown Brad Garrett defeated Annie Duke Clubs bracket: Don Cheadle defeated David Pham Paul Wasicka defeated Nicholas Joy Phil Ivey defeated Jennifer Tilly Vanessa Rousso defeated Doyle Brunson Scotty Nguyen defeated Hevad Khan Ted Forrest defeated Orel Hershiser Daniel Negreanu defeated Chris Moneymaker Dario Minieri defeated Mike Matusow Spades bracket: Gabe Kaplan defeated Chris Ferguson John Juanda defeated Joe Hachem Ilari Sahamies defeated Gavin Smith Bertrand Grospellier defeated Fred Collins Jeffrey Ishbia defeated Leon Yanovski Phil Hellmuth defeated Mike Sexton Tom Dwan defeated Gavin Griffin Barry Greenstein defeated Blandino Gines On Saturday, March 7, those 32 surviving players returned to Caesars Palace to play down to 16. The results of Round 2 were as follows: Hearts bracket: Erick Lindgren defeated Eli Elezra David Williams defeated Scott Fischman John Phan defeated Jerry Yang Sam Farha defeated Peter Eastgate Diamonds bracket: Kenny Tran defeated Jennifer Harman David Oppenheim defeated Phil Laak Huck Seed defeated Gus Hansen Glen Chorny defeated Brad Garrett Clubs bracket: Paul Wasicka defeated Don Cheadle Vanessa Rousso defeated Phil Ivey Scotty Nguyen defeated Ted Forrest Daniel Negreanu defeated Dario Minieri Spades bracket: John Juanda defeated Gabe Kaplan Bertrand Grospellier defeated Ilari Sahamies Phil Hellmuth defeated Jeffrey Ishbia Tom Dwan defeated Barry Greenstein Going into Round 3, Vanessa Rousso was the only female player remaining, and no qualifiers or celebrities remained. Everyone was guaranteed a $25K payout at that point, though they were all pros and clearly playing for the $500K first prize and the heads-up title. The matches played out as follows: Hearts bracket: David Williams defeated Erick Lindgren Sam Farha defeated John Phan Diamonds bracket: David Oppenheim defeated Kenny Tran Huck Seed defeated Glen Chorny Clubs bracket: Vanessa Rousso defeated Paul Wasicka Daniel Negreanu defeated Scotty Nguyen Spades bracket: Bertrand Grospellier defeated John Juanda Phil Hellmuth defeated Tom Dwan The rematch of Hellmuth and Dwan was a highly anticipated one, and Hellmuth indeed got his revenge for Dwan’s victory at the 2008 NHUPC. The other highlight of the third round was Negreanu’s attire, as he was dressed like Scotty Nguyen - wig, sunglasses, and gold chains - for the entirety of the match. Upon its completion, the eight eliminated players took their $25K in prize money, and the Elite Eight planned to return the following day to play for the win. The quarterfinals began on the morning of Sunday, March 8. The Hearts and Diamonds brackets played first and finished quickly. Sam Farha eliminated David Williams to advance, and Huck Seed took care of David Oppenheim. Soon after, the Clubs and Spades brackets took to the stage, where Phil Hellmuth was eliminated on the fifth hand of the match by Bertrand Grospellier. Daniel Negreanu and Vanessa Rousso battled for quite awhile to determine their outcome, but ultimately it was Rousso who doubled up twice to take the lead and then beat Negreanu to advance. Williams, Oppenheim, Hellmuth, and Negreanu received $75,000 each for their quarterfinal round finishes. The four remaining players were set to compete as follows: Sam Farha vs. Huck Seed Vanessa Rousso vs. Bertrand Grospellier The semifinals were much slower than the previous round, as so much more was at stake with the championship round only one win away for each player. Grospellier and Rousso were the first to end their match, only it wasn’t without some changes in the chip lead. Grospellier led in the beginning until Rousso doubled up twice to take that lead. Finally, Grospellier pushed all-in with kc 6c, but Rousso called with pocket sevens. The board of 2d 4d 5c 6s 8h not only allowed Rousso’s hand to hold up but turned it into a straight. Bertrand Grospellier was dispatched from the NHUPC with $125,000 for his efforts. It took Farha and Seed much longer to determine their outcome, with the chip lead changing multiple times. Finally, with Farha as the short stack, he pushed with ac kd. Seed called with only tc 8c, but the board came 7c 5s js 3c 9c to give him the flush and the win. Sam Farha was eliminated with a $125,000 prize. The championship round was set with Vanessa Rousso and Huck Seed as the players for the best-of-three competition. Each started with 640K in chips, blinds at 3,000/6,000, and 15-minute levels. Play began quietly, and Rousso calmly took the lead early in the first match. But Seed reversed that without much delay and proceeded to widen the chip-gap between the two. Finally, Rousso pushed preflop with qd jc, but Seed just happened to have her dominated with kd jd. The dealer gave them ac 9h 5s 6h ad, and the first game went to Seed. The next match began in a similar manner, without chatter and with Rousso as the early aggressor. Seed then took the chip lead away and never gave it back. Ultimately, both players limped in to see a 8h 3h kd flop, which was checked to the ts on the turn. Rousso put herself all-in at that point with jd tc, but Seed called and was ahead with ks 7h. The 5c came on the river to end it for Rousso, who finished in second place and received $250,000 for the effort. Huck Seed became the 2009 NBC National Heads-Up Poker champion, for which he received a trophy, presented by last year’s champion Chris Ferguson, and $500,000 in prize money.