Annie Duke didn't have an easy road to the winner's circle of the 2010 National Heads-Up Championship.
Over the past two days, she was involved in some of the longest, most dramatic matches we've seen before finally fighting her way to victory over a very tough opponent in Erik Seidel.
Duke started out the first round by beating her good friend Andy Bloch. She bested Darvin Moon in the Round of 32 before playing an epic match against 2007 NBC Heads-Up Champion Paul Wasicka in the Round of 16. In that match, Duke was all in and at risk of elimination with ace-ten against Wasicka's pocket aces and rivered a straight.
Today she started by playing a marathon match against Jerry Yang where Yang doubled up against her on numerous occasions before finally running out of luck in the quarterfinal round. The semi-final match against Dennis Phillips wasn't any easier.
Then, Duke played three more long matches against her good friend Seidel who, after never making it out of the first round in his previous five appearances, didn't offer any quarter at the final table.
After the match, two centurions escorted Caesar and Cleopatra into the tournament room to present Duke with the winner's trophy and $500,000 in first-place prize money. Seidel graciously stood by her side, $250,000 richer himself.
That concludes our coverage of the 2010 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship. We hope you've enjoyed it.
Erik Seidel had his shot in the rubber match of this best-of-three final. When he lost a big all in with ace-king against Annie Duke's queen-nine, it seemed that the momentum was in Duke's favor.
Seidel moved all in pre-flop with . Duke made an easy call with . Victory was that much closer for Duke after a great flop of . Some in the gallery thought the turn, which gave Duke a straight, ended the tournament. But Seidel still had two outs to chop the hand -- the remaining two nines.
Once the river fell , it was truly over. Erik Seidel was eliminated in second place.
With blinds at 15,000 and 30,000, the swings now are getting silly. Annie Duke shoved pre-flop twice and got no action (adding 45,000 to her stack), then shoved after Erik Seidel opened for 80,000. Seidel folded.
Those 125,000 chips have trimmed Seidel's lead back down to about 8-to-5.
The last several pots have all gone to Erik Seidel, allowing him to open what looks like an approximately 2-to-1 chip lead over Annie Duke. Duke bet 55,000 on a flop of , with Seidel check-calling. When the turn fell , Seidel led out with a bet of 100,000. Duke quickly mucked her hand.
Erik Seidel raised to 50,000 from the button and Annie Duke made the call, bringing us a flop of .
Both players checked, bringing the on the turn and a bet of 50,000 from Duke. Seidel called and both players checked the on the river. We never saw their hands, but the pot was chopped as both Duke and Seidel held 7s for aces full.
Their chip stacks still remain relatively close, with Seidel holding a small lead.
Twenty-five minutes into the match and finally the producers have allowed MOC Jordan Siegel onto the stage. The first hand he announced started with a raise to 25,000 by Erik Seidel. Annie Duke called.
Duke led out for 25,000 on a flop of . Seidel called. Both players checked the turn. Duke checked again when the river came a third club, , then folded to a bet of 50,000.
The match is very close. Seidel might have a small lead.
About 10 minutes into our final match, it appears that Annie Duke has taken a small lead over Erik Seidel.
Again, as has become the norm, neither player has been willing to build a big pot in the early going and both are instead happy to take down the blinds or to win small pots without much resistance.