of the battle as some of the best poker players in the world come to the tables to decide who is the best at heads up poker. A look at the first round matchups reveal some interesting confrontations.
Topping the first bracket is a contest between two very evenly matched players in Dan Harrington and Todd Brunson. The former World Champion will have his hands full with the most recent champion of the Poker Superstars International competition and the two should square off in one of the more strategic sessions of Round One. "Positively Fifth Street" author James McManus draws one of the three "wild card" entries in the tournament in the online winner Josh Lochner. The 21 year old will be severely tested in this matchup and, if he can make it by the cagey McManus, he'll face either Annie Duke or Mike Sexton.
Another development that could prove interesting in Bracket One's first round is the draw of defending champion Phil Hellmuth and last year's runner-up Chris Ferguson. If they both defeat their first round opponents (not an easy task either way; "Jesus" has drawn Freddy Deeb and "The Poker Brat" has veteran Chip Reese), they would meet in the Second Round in a rematch of their championship battle from last year.
Bracket Two's first round matches should prove to be a interesting test between styles. James Woods has a stout test of his skills in Scott Fischman and Cyndy Violette will run up against Barry Greenstein. In what should be one of the more entertaining bouts of Bracket Two, Current European Champ, and recent WPT winner Tony G will battle "The Mad Genius Of Poker" Mike Caro for the opportunity to face Los Angeles Lakers' owner Dr. Jerry Buss or Amir Vahedi in the Second Round.
Bracket Three is going to be lively as well with a couple of different matchups. Phil "The Unabomber" Laak takes his highly aggressive style against a player who can match him on the aggression scale in the current leader on the WPT Player of the Year standings, Gavin Smith. John Juanda has the audacious task of taking down one of the legends in the game in Doyle Brunson and, in a matchup only possible through a random draw, former couple Daniel Negreanu and Evelyn Ng will sit opposite of each other in the first round.
Bracket Four also has its share of great matchups. Ted Forrest will take his intellectual attacking strategy against Erik Seidel's equally challenging tournament approach and whomever wins that matchup could face pre-tournament favorite Phil Ivey in Round Two (if Ivey can get by the deceptively good tournament pro Chad Brown). Finally, two-time 2005 World Series of Poker bracelet winner Mark Seif gets to battle perhaps the hottest player in tournament poker at this moment in Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi.
The 32 first round matches start this morning and, by the end of the day, should be worked down to probably the Sweet Sixteen. Plans are for the Final Four to square off on Monday for the championship, which will be determined in a best two of three format. Regardless of who wins the event, they will have proven themselves worthy of the title of National Heads Up Poker Champion! For a look at the entirety of the brackets, be sure to visit nbcheadsup.com for more details.