2009 National Heads-Up Poker Championship match-up draws have been finished for the 64 players; the tournament starts today, March the 6th, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas with Johnny Chan vs Eli Elezra. Among the other players battling it out to be crowned the best heads-up poker player and win $500,000 are 11 former World Series of Poker Main Event champions including the defending champ Chris Ferguson, Doyle Brunson, Peter Eastgate, Jamie Gold, Joe Hachem, Phil Hellmuth, Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer, Huck Seed, and Jerry Yang. Seven newcomers were invited, including comedian Brad Garrett, and poker professionals Gavin Griffin, Bertrand Grospellier, Hevad Khan, Dario Minieri, Ilari Sahamies and Vanessa Selbst.
Three of the newcomers, John Phan, Bertrand Grospellier and Peter Eastgate, had exceptional years in 2008. John Phan won two WSOP bracelets and a WPT title, in addition to capturing Player of the Year awards from both Card Player and Bluff magazines. France’s Bertrand Grospellier won the EPT PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January 2008 for $2 million, and then won the WPT Championship in October for another $1.4 million. And as we all remember Denmark’s own Peter Eastgate won the 2008 WSOP Main Event, defeating the field of 6,843 players.
In order to make the money in the 2009 tournament, a player needs to win their first two matches and advance to the Round of 16.
Places 9-16: $25,000
Places 5-8: $75,000
Places 3-4: $125,000
2nd place: $250,000
1st place: $500,000
Total prize pool: $1,500,000
This year’s NHPC players have won a total of 119 World Series of Poker bracelets, 14 WSOP Main Events, 27 WPT Open championships, and 3 European Poker Tour titles. If this is not impressive enough, the field has collectively amassed more than $286 million in lifetime live tournament winnings. By way of comparison, last year’s field had accumulated $124 million; less than half the amount in NHPC 2009.
Full story and bracket with updates at NBC Sports
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