Round One National Heads-Up Poker Championships Matchups Released

Published on March 6th, 2009 5:13 am EST

black and white logo national heads-up poker championshipsThe first round match-ups for the 2009 National Heads-Up Championship have now been released.

Every player that was invited to participate in the event will be taking part, with the exception of Ivan Demidov. According to reports, Demidov was unable to secure a visa for the event and won't be able to attend. Hevad Khan took his spot in the tournament, and will be squaring off against Scotty Nguyen in the first round.

Here are the four brackets, followed by some notes about each bracket:

Hearts Bracket

Johnny Chan v Eli Elezra

Erick Lindgren vs Howard Lederer

J.C. Tran vs David Williams

Jamie Gold vs Scott Fischman

Erik Seidel vs John Phan

Jerry Yang vs Clonie Gowen

Allen Cunningham vs Sam Farha

Andy Bloch vs Peter Eastgate

Probably the toughest bracket of the tournament by far. You have 9-10 highly skilled players in this draw.

Am I the only one that is hoping for a Lederer / Gowen showdown?

Jerry Yang vs Clonie Gowen - this match-up will be ridiculed more than any other match-up in the tournament.

Bloch was runner-up last year and will be very hard to beat. As mentioned, this is a very tough bracket.

Diamonds Bracket

Kenny Tran vs Antonio Esfandiari

Greg Raymer vs Jennifer Harman

Kenny Yeh vs Phil Laak

Vanessa Selbst vs Layne Flack

David Benyamine vs Gus Hansen

Huck Seed vs Jonathan Little

Chad Brown vs Glen Chorny

Annie Duke vs Brad Garrett

Watch out for Vanessa Selbst - she is an excellent heads-up player. She has placed third in the WSOP heads-up event two years in a row.

Benyamine and Hansen have logged many hours against each other online - this should be an entertaining match-up.

I like Selbst in this bracket.

Spades Bracket

Gabe Kaplan vs Chris Ferguson

Ilari Sahamies vs Gavin Smith

John Juanda vs Joe Hachem

Fred Collins vs Bertrand Grospellier

Jeffrey Ishbia vs Leon Yanovski

Mike Sexton vs Phil Hellmuth

Gavin Griffin vs Tom Dwan

Barry Greenstein vs Blandino Gines

Plenty of dead money in this bracket.

Ferguson has performed unbelievably in this event and is the defending champion.

Hellmuth, Greenstein, Grospellier and Dwan all have great shots of making it out of this bracket, but they will all have to get by Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, which is no easy feat.

Grospellier and Dwan both have a TON of experience playing heads-up online - don't discount this.

Clubs Bracket

Don Cheadle vs David Pham

Paul Wasicka vs Nicholas Joy

Jennifer Tilly vs Phil Ivey

Doyle Brunson vs Vanessa Rousso

Hevad Khan vs Scotty Nguyen

Ted Forrest vs Orel Hershiser

Daniel Negreanu vs Chris Moneymaker

Mike Matusow vs Dario Minieri

Ivey will be tough to beat (obviously) - I don't see him having much trouble getting past Tilly in the first round. His friends will torment him if he loses to Tilly, so expect him to be on his "A" game.

Negreanu is playing really strong poker right now.

David Pham shouldn't be overlooked - he has a good draw in the first round and could easily make it out of this bracket.

Matusow vs Minieri should prove to be an entertaining match-up. Cue the scarf comments.

How much longer will Chris Moneymaker keep getting invited to this event? I know that his win at the 2003 World Series of Poker ignited the poker boom, but that was almost six years ago.


This should be a very entertaining event, and I can't wait for it to get underway.