NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship Day 2: Negreanu, Rousso, ElkY, Hellmuth Move On
Day 2 of the National Heads-Up Championship featured some of the biggest names in poker and entertainment, as superstars such as Phil Ivey, Barry Greenstein and Peter Eastgate squared off not only against other top pros, but also big names from the entertainment world like Brad Garrett, Don Cheadle and actor-turned-poker-pro Gabe Kaplan. The 32 survivors from Day 1 thinned down to eight quarterfinal qualifiers in a fast-paced day of poker action at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
The action found several WSOP Main Event champions heading to the rail, including Jerry Yang, who was defeated by John "The Razor" Phan early in Round 2. Huck Seed made short work of Gus Hansen in their match to secure his fifth cash as many years of the event. When Scott Fischman lost to David Williams in Round 2, Seed became the only player to cash in the event every year since its inception.
David Oppenheim wasn't even in the field at the start of Day 1, but made it through Phil Laak to get to Round 3. Oppenheim was added to the event at the last minute as a replacement for Layne Flack, and caught a lucky flop to bust Laak in Round 2. Laak moved all in preflop with pocket kings, and Oppenheim called with . The in the window left Laak looking for help, but none came on the board as he was busted.
Erick Lindgren made his first NHUPC cash when he busted Eli Elezra, while Jen Harman's shot at her first cash was ended by Kenny Tran. 2008 WSOP Main Event champion Peter Eastgate cruised through his Day 1 match, but ran into Sam Farha in Round 2 to end his run. A short-stacked Eastgate moved all in preflop with and Farha called with . Farha kept the lead on the 9-6-Q flop, but an eight on the turn gave Eastgate a straight draw. A queen on the river was no help, and the young champ headed to the rail.
Two celebrities and one Caesars qualifier were still in the tournament on Day 2, but all fell in Round 2. PokerBattle Warrior Glen Chorny took out Brad Garrett, Phil Hellmuth busted live qualifier Jeffrey Ishbia, and 2007 champ Paul Wasicka busted Don Cheadle. After losing one huge hand, the short-stacked Cheadle shipped it in with after Wasicka open-shoved with pocket fours. The flop brought extra outs for Cheadle when it came down , and then the on the turn brought a few more. The on the river wasn't any of them, and the star power of the event diminished a bit as Cheadle headed for the exit.
Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier busted Ilari "Ziigmund" Sahamies in a battle of online pros, as another online stud, Tom "durrrr" Dwan, knocked out Barry Greenstein. Dario Minieri busted at the hands of Daniel Negreanu, and Scotty Nguyen busted Ted Forrest to continue the trek towards the round of 16 and the money. John Juanda locked up a cash for himself when he busted Gabe Kaplan, and Vanessa Rousso sent Phil Ivey packing to lock up the final spot in the round of 16.
The Round 3 matchups looked like this, as players settled in with 80,000 chip starting stacks and blinds at 600/1,200 to start:
Erick Lindgren v. David Williams
John Phan v. Sam Farha
Kenny Tran v. David Oppenheim
Huck Seed v. Glen Chorny
John Juanda v. Bertrand Grospellier
Phil Hellmuth v. Tom Dwan
Paul Wasicka v. Vanessa Rousso
Scotty Nguyen v. Daniel Negreanu
The Round of 16 got off to a fast start with the rapid elimination of Glen Chorny. Huck Seed moved all in on a board of 7-Q-9-Q-5, and Chorny quickly called, showing for the rivered straight. Seed tabled pocket nines for the turned boat, and Chorny's miracle river card was his undoing. He picked up $25,000 for his tournament. Sam Farha quickly eliminated John Phan to move on to the quarterfinals, and reserve player David Oppenheim busted Kenny Tran to continue his run from on the bench to Round 4. Erick Lindgren's first cash ended in Round 3 as David Williams eliminated him, and the first half of the round of 16 was quickly over.
The second half of the round featured a couple of highly anticipated matchups. Phil Hellmuth's match against Tom Dwan last year lasted only three hands before Dwan cracked Hellmuth's aces to send him to the rail and spark a classic Hellmuthian tirade. The two met again in Round 3, and Dwan recounted the hand history for our reporters. The players limped and checked to see a flop of , and again both players checked. The came on the turn, and Dwan led out with . Hellmuth called, then raised after Dwan fired on the river. Dwan called all in, only to see Hellmuth reveal 9-5 for the full house. Dwan headed to the rail as Hellmuth headed to Round 4 with a bit of sweet revenge.
Scotty Nguyen sat across from an imposing figure in Round 3 – himself! Daniel Negreanu took advantage of the break between rounds to put together a Scotty Nguyen costume complete with wig, matching white outfit and lots of jewelry. Nguyen took the ribbing with good humor, but was less amused when Negreanu flopped a straight to bust him in Round 3. Vanessa Rousso staked her claim on a quarterfinal seat when she busted former winner Paul Wasicka, then Bertrand Grospellier finally beat John Juanda in a marathon match to fill the final seat in the quarterfinals.
The quarterfinal matchups to start Sunday's action:
David Williams v. Sammy Farha
David Oppenheim v. Huck Seed
Vanessa Rousso v. Daniel Negreanu
Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier v. Phil Hellmuth
Join PokerNews at 11AM PT on Sunday for all the live updates as the final eight play down to the winner.