Poker

Best of the Best Named to NBC Heads-Up Field

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With the buy-in increased from $20,000 to $25,000 this year, the bracket-style head-to-head event will feature a $1.8 million prize pool with $750,000 reserved for first.

First-round opponents will be randomly chosen during the GoDaddy.com Draw Party held at PURE Nightclub at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas Mar. 3 and the competition will run Mar. 4-6 inside the poker room.

All the action will be taped for broadcast on NBC over six consecutive Sundays in April and May.

The most recognizable names in poker will be back, including defending champion Annie Duke, Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Doyle Brunson, Chris Ferguson, Huck Seed, Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Jennifer Harman, Patrik Antonius, Scotty Nguyen, Chris Moneymaker, Barry Greenstein, Phil Laak, Michael Mizrachi, Tom Dwan, Gus Hansen, Howard Lederer, Antonio Esfandiari and Mike Matusow.

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2009 WSOP Main Event champ Joe Cada is back for a second time, 2008 WSOP Main Event champ Peter Eastgate is returning from retirement and they are both joined by NBC Heads-Up veterans Eli Elezra, Gavin Smith, Erick Lindgren, David Williams, Allen Cunningham, Ted Forrest, Jason Mercier, Johnny Chan, and John Juanda.

Kara Scott, Greg Raymer, Phil Gordon, Eric Baldwin, David Benyamine, Bertrand Grospellier, Andy Bloch, Joe Hachem, Dennis Phillips, Annette Obrestad and GoDaddy Girl Vanessa Rousso will also be there again.

Celebrities like Seinfeld's Jason Alexander, Don Cheadle, Gabe Kaplan and Jennifer Tilly are all returning.

And while 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Jonathan Duhamel is making his NBC Heads-Up debut, he wont be alone.

CardPlayer and Bluff Magazine Player of the Year winners Tom Marchese and Sorel Mizzi, EPT San Remo winner Liv Boeree, WSOPE champ James Bord, WPT Borgata winner Dwyte Pilgrim, 2010 WSOP Main Event runner-up John Racener, WPT Player of the Year Faraz Jaka, and EPT Grand Final winner Nicolas Chouity are all playing for the first time.

Plus, WSOP Player of the Year Frank Kassela, PCA High Roller champ Eugene Katchalov, NAPT Mohehan Sun winner Vanessa Selbst, 2010 WSOP $10k Heads-Up champ Ayaz Mahmood, online high-stakes pros Phil"OMGClayAiken" Galfond and Dan "Jungleman12" Cates and the NFL’s all-time lead rusher and Hall of Fame member Emmitt Smith will all be making their NBC Heads-Up debut.

Qualifiers Melburn Whitmire and Justin Young round out the field.

Leeann Tweeden will serve as the sideline reporter/interviewer once again, with Craig Hummer and Ali Nejad providing commentary.

"The National Heads-Up Poker Championship is back for a seventh year with another impressive line-up of celebrities and some of the most talented poker players in the world," said Jon Miller, president of programming of NBC Sports and Versus.

"Our viewers are in for a treat with what we can guarantee will be thrilling poker match-ups. There is no other heads-up poker tournament that can rival the skill and excitement on the tables that we bring together when the best of the best compete in this unique format.”

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