With a competitor list of 64 of the top poker players in the world, a buy-in of $20 000 generating a prize pool of $1.28 million and a first prize of $500 000, the 2009 NBC National Heads Up Poker Championship lived up to expectations this week, delivering an exciting tournament of champions which culminated a tough grand finale heads up between Vanessa Rousso and Huck Seed.
In a best-of-three contest, Seed took the first two games, making a third clash unnecessary; Rousso collected a $250 000 check for her second placing.
The fifth edition of the poker epic took place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Along with several online and live qualifiers and a star studded list of pros, all four previous winners of the tournament entered for the 2009 edition, with last year's champion Chris Ferguson leading the way. Unfortunately he was eliminated on Day 1, whilst the other former champs Phil Hellmuth, Paul Wasicka and Ted Forrest all won their opening matches but failed to make the final heads up.
Also in the field were poker legends Johnny Chan, Daniel Negreanu and Doyle Brunson, World Series of Poker champions Jamie Gold, Chris Moneymaker, Joe Hachem, Jerry Yang, Greg Raymer, and a host of other top names.
The field was structured into four 16 player flights, each named after suits of cards. Players competed within their flights on Day 1, as the first 32 single-elimination matches cut the field in half. The Hearts section proved to be the most dynamic, with all eight matches over and done with in ninety minutes!
The win brings Seed's career winnings to well over $4 million. The 40-year-old Caltech-educated poker pro includes a 1996 WSOP Main Event victory and a 1999 WSOP final table cash in his cv, along with many other key competition wins.
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