Three days. 64 competitors. 63 heads-up poker matches. At the end of it all was Huck Seed, seated at the table with all of the chips, the winner's trophy and $500,000 in prize money. Seed is the only player to have made the money in all five years of this tournament and now has the best record (18-4) in the history of the tournament, surpassing last year's champion Chris Ferguson, who is 16-4 lifetime and was on hand to present the prize money and the trophy to Seed.
Seed's road to the championship started in the Diamonds Bracket, where he drew Jonathan Little as his first round competitor. Seed won that match going away and was the first player from Diamonds through to the second round, where he squared off against Gus Hansen. He beat Hansen there and Glen Chorny in the third round to make it to the quarterfinals that started earlier today.
Seed's quarterfinal match was over inside of fifteen minutes after he and Oppenheim got all the chips in the middle on a coin flip. Seed's pocket eights bested Oppenheim's ace-queen to reach the semifinals, where he drew the always-tough Sammy Farha. Farha and Seed played an epic match that stretched to roughly two-and-a-half hours and featured as much drama as one could hope for in a heads-up match.
To win the championship, Seed needed to get by Vanessa Rousso, the player who consistently drew the toughest matches in every round of the championship. Rousso faced, and dispatched, Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivey, 2007 National Heads-Up Champion Paul Wasicka, Daniel Negreanu and Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier. There's not a soft spot in that lineup.
Seed, however, was able to handle the dangerous Rousso with seeming ease, slowly chipping up against her in each of the finals matches and then leaning on her when the blinds were big and Rousso's stack was short. He played masterful poker for three days and is deserving of the title of champion.
That concludes our coverage from Caesars Palace. Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to join us for our next stop on the tournament circuit, the 2009 World Series of Poker Circuit event at Caeasar's Atlantic City on March 12.
Vanessa Rousso had fallen into short stack territory, with her stack down to about 400,000 and blinds at 15,000 and 30,000. She and Huck Seed took a limped flop of , which they both checked.
The turn came and brought a half-pot bet of 30,000 from Rousso. Seed deliberated thoughtfully and then re-raised to 130,000, putting the short-stacked Rousso to the test. She took her time, then made a back-handed waving motion and announced she was all in. Seed wasted no time in calling. He rolled over for top pair of kings. Rousso showed for a turned pair of tens. With Seed already up 1-0 in this best-of-three match, Rousso needed to improve on the river to stave off elimination.
With the gallery all pressed around the table, MOC Jordan Siegel announced, "Here's the river!" The dealer burned and turned the , a card that did not help Rousso. She was eliminated, and with that elimination Huck Seed was crowned the 2009 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Champion.
Vanessa Rousso has fallen below 500,000 in chips. She raised her button preflop, then called after Huck Seed put in a re-raise of an additional 80,000 chips. The flop came all Broadway cards, . Seed fired out for 85,000, folding Rousso after twenty seconds.
Reigning NBC Heads-Up Champ Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson was just spotted shaking a few hands inside the Caesars Palace Poker Room. We overheard a couple members of the production crew mention that Ferguson is currently in 'make-up,' so it's likely he'll be involved in the post-finals festivities once a champion is crowned.
After a bet and a call on the turn of a board, Vanessa Rousso and Huck Seed checked the river in turn. Rousso showed , then disgustedly flung her cards towards the dealer when Seed rolled over , having made a pair on the river.
Although the structure sheet that the media was given at the start of the day indicated that the initial blinds for the final would be 5,000 and 10,000, that information appears to have been incorrect. Producer Mori Eskandani confirmed that blinds for the each of the finals matches start at 3,000 and 6,000 and then continue as we originally indicated.
We apologize for the confusion. As far as we're concerned, this is a welcome change, as it gives the finalists a bit more "play".
Without many showdowns, Huck Seed had slowly increased his chip lead over Vanessa Rousso to more than 3-to-1. With blinds at 15,000 and 30,000, Rousso didn't have many weapons in her arsenal. Two buttons in a row, she moved all in preflop for 280,000. The first time Seed folded, but the second time he tanked for 90 seconds before calling with . It was a great call, as Seed had Rousso's dominated. The board rolled out , giving Seed the pot and the win in the first match.
The tournament is on a fifteen-minute break before the second match in this best-of-three final kicks off.