Sunday, March 08, 2009

2009 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship Concludes Today

Scotty Nguyen meets his matchIn the NCAA tourney -- a.k.a. “March Madness” -- they love alliteration. Or should I say, they are almost always all about alliteration. So they tend to designate the various rounds with labels like “Sweet Sixteen” and the “Final Four.” (At least they don’t bother with the “Swell Sixty-Four” or “Thriving Thirty-Two.”)

So the quarterfinals are generally referred to as the “Elite Eight.” And while the need for alliteration may make the appellation seem, well, arbitrary, it basically does the job. The eight teams who make the quarters are usually pretty darned good, and winning three more games against (usually) worthy competition makes them even more deserving of “elite” status for the couple of days between the third round and the quarters.

And while the structures are a bit too fast (increasing the luck factor significantly), I suppose for the sake of convenience we can safely refer to the remaining eight players in the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship as “elite,” too.

Hellmuth bested Dwan in their rematch, but he has another tough online (and live) player awaiting him in Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier in the final of the “Spades Bracket” (or “region,” to further the analogy with the NCAAs). The winner of that one will meet the winner of the “Clubs Bracket” -- either Daniel Negreanu or Vanessa Rousso.

Negreanu bested Scotty Nguyen in the third round after showing up dressed like Nguyen with wig, sunglasses, and requisite bling (see picture). I suppose you could say Negreanu gave Nguyen a lesson in dopplegänger management. (Rim shot.)

Rousso is the last woman remaining in the event; in fact, she was the only one of the six women who were invited to make it past the second round.

Over in the “Diamonds Bracket,” Huck Seed meets David Oppenheim. Seed (the 1996 WSOP Main Event champ) has now cashed in all five NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championships. Oppenheim (you will recall) was the last-minute replacement for Layne Flack. The winner of their match will meet the winner of the “Hearts Bracket,” either Sammy Farha or David Williams.

They’ll play the whole sucker out today, starting at 11:00 a.m. Vegas time. Follow the action over on PokerNews.

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