Dark Horse wins the NBC Heads Up Poker Championship

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Jan 27, 2013 Posted in Tournament News, TV Poker | No Comments »

horseWhen the field of 64 players was announced for the 2013 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship last week there were a few “controversial” selections, players that maybe were prematurely invited and players whose better days are now in the rearview mirror. Well, as it turns out it was one of those Dark Horses that sprinted to the front of the pack and won the tournament. If you want to know who it was than keep reading; if you want to wait for the tournament to air on NBC than stop here because we are about to enter the land of SPOILER ALERTS!


The final eight players left in the tournament returned on Sunday to play out the final three rounds of the event. The Quarterfinal matchups were as follows:

* Scott Seiver vs. Daniel Cates

* Mike Matusow vs. John Hennigan

* Joe Serock vs. Brian Hastings

* Phil Hellmuth vs. Eugene Katchalov

Seiver was able to defeat Cates to setup a match between himself and Matusow, who bested “Johnny World” in the second quarterfinal, setting up an old-school vs. new-school match in the Final Four.

On the other side of the bracket a slightly contentious match took place between Joe Serock and Brian Hastings, with Tweets flying about Hastings not having respect for Serock’s heads-up game –it turns out Serock use to grind $5k Heads-Up S&G’s according to some of his friends. Serock would prove victorious in the match and moved on to face Phil Hellmuth who dispatched Eugene Katchalov in the final quarterfinal match.


* Mike Matusow vs. Scott Seiver

* Phil Hellmuth vs. Joe Serock

In the Final Four the old-school players came through as both Hellmuth and Matusow defeated their younger, and heavily favored opponents to setup a final that could have came straight out of 2004: Mike Matusow vs. Phil Hellmuth.

In the finals the format switched to Best-Of-3 instead of the single-elimination matches leading up to this point. Matusow cruised to victory in the first match and appeared to have the title locked-up in Match 2, holding KK against the AK of Hellmuth; which is when the poker gods intervened and dropped an Ace on the Turn to give Hellmuth the massive pot. Hellmuth closed out Match 2 soon thereafter.

The decisive match was almost over before it started. Matusow jumped out to an early lead and eliminated Hellmuth (who was looking to become the first two-time winner of the tournament) in just 25 minutes.

Here is a look at the payouts from the event:

Champion: $750,000

* Mike Matusow

Runner-Up: $300,000

* Phil Hellmuth

Final Four: $100,000

* Scott Seiver

* Joseph Serock

Elite 8: $50,000

* Daniel Cates

* John Hennigan

* Brian Hastings

* Eugene Katchalov

Sweet 16: $25,000

* Antonio Esfandiari

* Vanessa Rousso

* Barry Greenstein

* Phil Ivey

* Joseph Cheong

* David Sands

* Tom Dwan

* Dan Smith


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