Three days of poker spread out over sixty three matches led to the crowning of a new champion in the 2nd Annual National Heads Up Poker Championship early Tuesday morning. The poker played during the weekend at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas was action packed and also provided many surprises as well. In the end, veteran cash game player Ted Forrest was able to withstand the charge of the best in the game today to walk away from the felt with the title.
The Final Four consisted of a couple of surprises and two of the most revered players in the game today. In one match, last year's runner up in the Heads Up Championship, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, met up with one of the more unlikely competitors in the semifinals. 1996 World Champion Huck Seed returned to the vaunted halls of Caesars Palace after a long dry spell in the poker world. While he cashed in a couple of events in 2005 at the World Series and finished ninth in last year's Heads Up tournament, Seed hasn't been a consistent tournament performer since the earlier part of this decade. It may have been a surprise that he was at the table with Ferguson, but he put up a tremendous battle, defeating Barry Greenstein, Scott Fischman and Erick Lindgren before eventually succumbing to the veteran Ferguson.
The other semifinal event was much like the first match up in the pairing of a seasoned veteran and a surprise at the table. While it took Ted Forrest over three hours to put away cagey Sam Farha (the longest match in the two years of the Heads Up Championship), brash poker phenom Shawn Sheikhan was able to avoid a minefield of troubles during his trip to the semifinals. After defeating the legendary Doyle Brunson, veteran David Grey and 2004 Poker Player of the Year Daniel Negreanu on his way to the semifinals, it seemed that Sheikhan was on his way to potentially the greatest tournament victory of his young career. It wasn't to be, however, as Ted Forrest derailed the Sheikhan Express and went to the Championship Round to meet Chris Ferguson.
The championship would be determined by a best two of three series between the two survivors of the seventy two hour war. With both players starting with 640,000 chips, it would take some time for one of the competitors to drop two matches. After being down almost 10-1 in the first game, Ferguson drew first blood in the event by taking Game One. It was evident, however, what Forrest's style for this battle would be. He worked each game in a chopping manner, content to avoid huge confrontations and to hack away at the 2000 World Champion's chip stack. This strategy worked well; Forrest came back to take the next two games and captured the National Heads Up Championship and the $500,000 payday. Second for another year, Ferguson was left to claim the $250,000 second prize.
The tournament will be broadcast on NBC as a ten hour package of poker that begins on April 16th and ends in late May. Last year NBC repeated broadcasts on their cable outlet CNBC as well, so there will be many opportunities to see the entirety of the tournament and the many twists and turns that occurred during the run of the tournament and some of the incredible action between the greatest players in the game today. For now, it's time to congratulate Ted Forrest as the new National Heads Up Poker Champion.
Ed Note: Heads up is the purest form of poker. Great heads up action always at Pacific Poker