A new automatic invitation list to play in one of poker's premier televised tournaments – the NBC National Heads-Up Championship – is was released this week, providing a tourney with increased expert participation and viewer interest.
 
Now four years old, the championship generates so far unsurpassed poker television viewerships, with the likes of Phil Hellmuth (2005), Ted Forrest (2006), Paul Wasicka (2007), and Chris Ferguson (2008) the top stars so far.
 
According to a release from the NBC, the automatic invitation list will be used for the 2009 spectacular and will be structured as follows:
 
* Previous 5 National Heads-Up Poker ChampionsPokerStars
 
* Previous 2 National Heads-Up runners-up
 
* Defending National Heads-Up semifinalists
 
* Any player who cashes in the past 4 consecutive years of the National Heads-Up Poker Championship
 
* Previous 3 World Series of Poker Main Event Champions
 
* Defending World Series of Poker Main Event runner-up
 
* Beginning with the 2008 WSOP, multiple bracelet winners in the same year will receive an automatic invitation to the next Heads-Up Championship
 
* Defending World Series of Poker Player of the Year
 
* Defending World Series of Poker Heads-Up Champion
 
* Defending World Series of Poker Europe Main Event Champion (21 or older)
 
* Reigning World Poker Tour Player of the Year
 
* Reigning Monte Carlo European Poker Tour Grand Final Champion (21 or older)
 
* Reigning Card Player magazine Player of the Year
 
* Reigning Bluff magazine Player of the Year
 
* Reigning ALL IN magazine Player of the Year
 
* Online and NBC qualifiers (1-3) (must be 21 or older)
 
* 2 x host venue qualifiers (2)
 
Players receiving an invite to the event are still required to buy-in for the full entry fee, unless they win a seat through an online qualifier.