PokerNews has learned that the popular National Heads-Up Poker Championship on NBC will not be returning for an eighth season in 2012. Wicked Chops Poker first reported the news Thursday after getting confirmation from NBC Sports Senior Director of Communications Adam Freifeld.
The National Heads-Up Poker Championship was an invitation-only event featuring 64 of the world’s top poker players and celebrities. It first aired in 2005 with Phil Hellmuth winning the inaugural event, and in the year's after, several notables followed him into the winner’s circle, including Chris Ferguson, Ted Forrest, Annie Duke, and last year’s champion Erik Seidel.
The expulsion of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker from the U.S. market has dealt a huge blow to televised poker in the U.S. and the removal of this event is the latest letdown. The two online sites were major advertisers for the event and fronted the steep $20,000 buy-in for many of the sponsored players.
The National Heads-Up Poker Championship joins the Full-Tilt sponsored Poker After Dark (NBC) and PokerStars-sponsored Big Game (Fox) as casualties of Black Friday. Meanwhile, ESPN and the World Series of Poker recently signed a contract through 2017 thanks to advertisers including Jack Link's Beef Jerky and GoDaddy.com, which previously served as the presenting sponsor of the National Heads-Up Poker Championship.
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