National Heads-Up Poker Championship

The National Heads-Up Poker Championship was an annual poker tournament held in the United States and produced by the NBC television network.[1] It is a $25,000 "buy-in" invitation-only tournament[2] organized as a series of one-on-one games of no limit Texas hold 'em matches. The participants include many of the world's most successful poker players, as well as celebrities.

National Heads-Up Poker Championship
Created byNBC Sports
Narrated byAli Nejad and Matt Vasgersian
Country of origin United States
Production location(s)Golden Nugget Las Vegas (2005),
Caesars Palace (2006 - 2013)
Running time60 minutes (including commercials)
Original networkNBC
Original release2005 –
2013 (no 2012 event)
External links

The championship was the first poker event to be televised on and produced by a major U.S. television network.[1]

In October 2011, NBC announced that the National Heads-Up Poker Championship would not return in 2012, ending the championship's seven-year run.[3] After a one-year hiatus, the tournament returned for a final time in 2013.[4] The $25,000 buy-in event ran from Jan. 24 through 26 at Caesars Palace, the same venue where the event was held from 2006 through 2011.

In February 2014, NBC announced the National Heads-Up Poker Championship would not return in 2014.

The Heads-Up Championship had been sponsored by online poker companies before Black Friday. The World Series of Poker ( is the new presenting sponsor.[5]


The single-elimination tournament is modeled after college basketball tournaments. Players who win a match advance to the next round; the player who wins six matches is crowned champion.

The first round is seeded randomly the night before the tournament begins. Players are divided into four brackets – Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, and Spades. A participant advances by winning a heads-up match against his or her randomly drawn opponent. The structure of the brackets then determines every match thereafter. The semifinals consist of one player from each bracket, with the winner of the Spades bracket playing the winner of the Clubs bracket, and the winner of the Hearts bracket matched up against the winner of the Diamonds bracket. A best-of-three final match then determines which of the two finalists is crowned champion.

Brief historyEdit

The National Heads-Up Poker Championship is an invitation-only event. In contrast, the World Heads-Up Poker Championship is an open event with a maximum participation of 128 players.

The 2005 event took place at the Golden Nugget Las Vegas between March 4 and March 6. It aired weekly on NBC from May 1 to May 22 with commentary from Gabe Kaplan and Matt Vasgersian.

The 2006 edition took place from March 4 to 6 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. NBC began its coverage by broadcasting one part of the opening round on April 16. The semi-final and championship matches aired May 21. Kaplan and Vasgersian returned as commentators.

The 2007 edition was broadcast from April 8 to May 20. Ali Nejad took Gabe Kaplan's spot as commentator due to Kaplan competing in the tournament.


Year Winner Runner-up Best-of-three final score
2005   Phil Hellmuth   Chris Ferguson 2–1
2006   Ted Forrest   Chris Ferguson 2–1
2007   Paul Wasicka   Chad Brown 2–0
2008   Chris Ferguson   Andy Bloch 2–1
2009   Huck Seed   Vanessa Rousso 2–0
2010   Annie Duke   Erik Seidel 2–1
2011   Erik Seidel   Chris Moneymaker 2–0
2012 no tournament
2013   Mike Matusow   Phil Hellmuth 2–1

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b NBC Spot in the Cards for Poker Tourney February 2005 article from the Las Vegas Sun
  2. ^ NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship Inks Four-year Deal with Caesars, a May 2008 article from
  3. ^ "NBC Cancels National Heads-Up Poker Championship". PokerNews. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
  4. ^ "NBC Brings Back National Heads-Up Poker Championship". PokerNews. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  5. ^ "National Heads-Up Poker Championship returns to Caesars Palace". Retrieved 14 January 2013.