NBC Heads Up Poker Championship down to 8

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Jan 26, 2013 Posted in Poker News | No Comments »

NBC National Heads-Up Poker ChampionshipAfter two days of play the field of the 2013 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship has been pared down to just eight players and it’s an intriguing group to say the least. Each of the players in the Elite 8 has played three heads-up matches over the past two days, and will need to win another three matches if they want to be crowned the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Champion and pocket the $500,000 set aside for the winner.

Two of the players in the Elite Eight were on my “why were they invited” list, and will square-off against one another, John Hennigan and Mike Matusow for a spot in the Final Four, otherwise the players left aren’t overly surprising. Here is a look at the four Elite Eight matches scheduled for Saturday and each player’s path to this point:

Match #1: Scott Seiver vs Daniel “Jungleman” Cates

The final match of the Clubs Bracket will see two of poker’s best young players, albeit one is a cash-game specialist while the other has done most of his damage in tournaments, as Scott Seiver squares off against Daniel Cates.

Cates is a heads-up cash-game specialist, which gives him a huge edge, but he has struggled in tournaments up to this point in his career. It will be interesting to see if Seiver can take advantage of the tournament dynamics (increasing blinds and different stack sizes) to take out Jungleman.

* Seiver’s path: Will Failla, Kyle Julius, Vanessa Rousso

* Cate’s path: Matt Salsberg, Chris Moorman, and Antonio Esfandiari

Match #2: Mike Matusow vs. John Hennigan

In a battle of the early Poker Boom “The Mouth” will clash with “Johnny World” with both players having quite a bit on the line in this tournament, where a win could rejuvenate their careers. Both players have extremely impressive resumes but have fallen off the map in recent years.

* Matusow’s path: Mike Mizrachi, Viktor Blom, and Barry Greenstein

* Hennigan’s path: David Williams, Sam Simon, and Phil Ivey

Match #3: Joe Serock vs. Brian Hastings

This is perhaps the most intriguing matchup in my mind, as these are two of the most underrated players in the game. This is likely the most even match as well, considering both players, Serock and Hastings, are a bit out of their comfort zones in heads-up NLHE play –Serock is a tournament player and Hastings prefers PLO.

* Serock’s path: Greg merson, Huck Seed, and Dan Smith

* Hastings’ path: Matt Matros, Eli Elezra, and Tom Dwan

Match #4: Phil Hellmuth vs. Eugene Katchalov

The final matchup brings us to the biggest name left, Phil Hellmuth. For all his critics, Hellmuth does really well in this format, and is on a massive run over the past couple of years in general. He’ll have a tough test against Katchalov, but I’m all done discounting Phil, although Katchalov seems to have had one of the hardest path’s to this point and has to be considered a clear favorite.

* Hellmuth’s path: Mike Sexton, Justin Smith, and David “Doc” Sands

* Katchalov’s path: Faraz Jaka, Phil Galfond, and Joe Cheong


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