We take our poker seriously here at PokerNews, so when a prestigious event like the NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship comes around, we're all buzzing at PokerNews HQ, discussing who will be doing what to whom, and what types of bad-beat rants we will be seeing. So here are some predictions.
Donnie Peters, Senior Tournament Reporter
Best Poker Performance by a Celebrity: Don Cheadle
Best Poker Performance by a former WSOP Main Event winner: Huck Seed
Dream Televised Table Match-Up: Darvin Moon vs. Jennifer Tilly, possibly the worst poker match of all time.
Who Will Suffer the Worst Beat: Phil Hellmuth, because every beat he takes is the worst beat.
Biggest Disappointment: Howard Lederer, he just stands no chance playing poker anymore.
Best First Time Performance: Jason Mercier and Brock Parker
2010 NBC Heads-Up Champion: Brock Parker, he and the new guys like Jason Mercier, Annette Obrestad and Joe Cada are all going to perform the best. It's almost a lock that one of those four will make the finals.
Matthew Parvis, Editor-in-Chief/Executive Producer
Best Poker Performance by a Celebrity: Because of her close relationship to Brian Townsend, I'm gonna say Kara Scott. He probably has compiled a massive database of heads-up hand histories on the entire field.
Best Poker Performance by a former WSOP Main Event winner: Jerry Yang. You can't beat what you can't see, and "The Shadow" has certainly lived up to his nickname since winning the Main Event. He'll emerge from his shadowy lair to rock this heads-up event.
Dream Televised Table Match-Up: Tom Dwan vs. Patrik Antonius. I'd like to see these two take the infamous "durrrr" Challenge to the small screen. It's probably also our only shot at seeing someone six-bet, and then fold to a seven-bet shove.
Who Will Suffer the Worst Beat: I predict Joe Cada will run his top set of aces into quad deuces. He ran too good at the WSOP, so he is bound to suffer the wrath of the poker gods.
Best First Time Performance: JP Kelly. He's British, and keeps good company.
2010 NBC Heads-Up Champion: Phil Ivey. He has run below expectation in this event since its inception. Ivey will eye-dart his way through this field, crunching on apples, and opponents chip stacks the entire way.
Eric Ramsey, Senior Tournament Reporter
Best Poker Performance by a Celebrity: Scotty Nguyen. Does he count as a celebrity yet? Whether or not he goes deep, look for Scotty to put on a great performance for the TV cameras.
Best Poker Performance by a former WSOP Main Event winner: Annette Obrestad, even though she won the WSOP Europe Main Event. Look out, boys. She's finally 21, and the American poker audience is ready to get their first look at Obrestad in Sin City. Annette is also on a sick rush starting 2010, and she's proven that she's not to be underestimated in any field.
Dream Televised Table Match-Up: Annie Duke vs. Howard Lederer. If NBC is looking to spin this poker event into a primetime drama series, a Lederer/Duke matchup could write the script for the pilot. High-stakes poker meets sibling rivalry.
Who Will Suffer the Worst Beat: Mike Matusow, this one's a gimme.
Biggest Disappointment: Chris Moneymaker hasn't exactly been crushing on the tournament trail these days, and he'll need a couple of easy matches if he wants to gain some momentum and pick up his first cash of 2010.
2010 NBC Heads-Up Champion: Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier. His semifinal appearance in last year's event was no fluke. ElkY is a fearless and frightening opponent whose game has really begun to peak over the course of the last 18 months. Barring a brutal bracket, ElkY might just cruise to a win here and start to secure a place in the American poker scene.
Gloria Balding, PokerNews Senior Producer/Hostess
Best Poker Performance by a former WSOP Main Event winner: Peter Eastgate. He has an epic last longer with Jesper Hougaard, and he is far to prideful to lose to Jesper.
Dream Televised Table Match-Up: There is an old-money vibe about a tourney like this. A true young gun match-up would really wake up the establishment.
Biggest Disappointment: I'm with Donnie, Howard Lederer. The hunger is gone.
Best First-Time Performance: Gonna have to go with the new Euro contingency of Pieter de Korver, JP Kelly, Jesper Hougaard, Annette Obrestad. They are all aching to show the U.S. the strides poker has taken in Europe.
2010 NBC Heads-Up Champion: I see a Euro winning it. I don't have more than that.
Elissa Harwood, Staff Writer and Tournament Reporter
Best Poker Performance by a Celebrity: Don Cheadle. If he can knock over a casino while affecting a British accent, he can win a heads-up match or two.
Best Poker Performance by a former WSOP Main Event winner: Huck Seed's heads-up run has to end at some point. I'm going with Joe Cada. For someone who claims to be a heads-up specialist, he didn't play particularly impressively against Darvin Moon. I think he'll be very focused on bringing his "A" game here.
Dream Televised Table Match-Up: Sam Farha vs. Chris Moneymaker. The poker industry has benefited so much from Farha's misstep. He deserves a chance for revenge.
Who Will Suffer the Worst Beat: Phil Hellmuth. It's a bad beat for the audience if we don't get to see him take one.
Biggest Disappointment: Darvin Moon. We'll be disappointed if he doesn't run absurdly well, but we'll also be disappointed if he doesn't make any terrible plays, so whether he wins or loses, he really can't win.
Best First-Time Performance: Jesper Hougaard
2010 NBC Heads-Up Champion: Paul Wasicka, unless Go Daddy has found a way to put the fix in for Rousso.
Nicole Gordon, Senior Editor
Best Poker Performance by a Celebrity: I've watched Orel Hershiser play in a number of events this year and he just keeps improving. He's been studying with Mark Gregorich, and I think he'll be out to prove that last year's performance was no fluke.
Best Poker Performance by a former WSOP Main Event winner: I think Joe Cada has the most to prove and maybe even the most to gain from a strong showing here. During the November Nine, we kept hearing about how he was a heads-up specialist, so I'd like to see some of those skills on display here.
Dream Televised Table Match-Up: I'd love to see two of the best women in the game face each other: Annette Obrestad and Vanessa Rousso.
Who Will Suffer the Worst Beat: Who suffers worse beats than Phil Hellmuth? Even he ends up on the wrong end of a coinflip, I'm sure audiences will be treated to an epic meltdown.
Biggest Disappointment: Phil Gordon still plays poker? He'll lose in the first round and draw the ire of irate two plus two'ers who will spout off thousands of words about how many online gods were left out of the field so he could have a seat.
2010 NBC Heads-Up Champion: I think it's the year of the Euro, though. I'm going to go with everyone's favorite Finnish ex-model Patrik Antonius.
Mickey Doft, Staff Writer and Tournament Reporter
Best Poker Performance by a Celebrity: Don Cheadle
Best Poker Performance by a former WSOP Main Event winner: Huck Seed, he's a heads-up beast and his track record in this event speaks for itself.
Dream Televised Table Match-Up: Dwan vs. Matusow would be really entertaining to watch.
Who Will Suffer the Worst Beat: Phil Hellmuth. Regardless of how bad it really is, he'll make a scene.
Best First-Time Performance: Darvin Moon. I see his unpredictable play working well in his bracket.
Biggest Disappointment: The fact that Phil Gordon, Howard Lederer, Chris Moneymaker, Jerry Yang, Jamie Gold, Ted Forrest, and a few others are even on the list. This event should be a bit more of a "what have you done for me lately" type event. Make exceptions for the big names like Hellmuth, but enough of Moneymaker, Yang, and Gold, please. These players would be demolished by younger players and WPT winners who don't get much love. Faraz Jaka, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, and Vivek Rajkumar come to mind immediately.
2010 NBC Heads-Up Champion: Greg Mueller. Lately, when he plays in something, he wins.
Kristy Arnett, PokerNews Producer/Hostess
Best Poker Performance by a Celebrity: Jennifer Tilly.
Best Poker Performance by a former WSOP Main Event winner: Scotty Nguyen.
Dream Televised Table Match-Up: Gus Hansen vs. Kara Scott, let the awkward sexual harassment ensue.
Who Will Suffer the Worst Beat: Tom Dwan.
Biggest Disappointment: Bertrand "ElKy" Grospellier
2010 NBC Heads-Up Champion: Jason Mercier
Be sure to follow the tournament coverage right here at PokerNews beginning tomorrow at 1 p.m. PST.