Forrest beat Ferguson to take NHPC top prize

Pro player Ted Forrest beat Chris "Jesus" Ferguson heads-up to take first place at the National Heads-Up Poker Championship (NHPC) at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, it was announced early this morning.

This was Ferguson's second defeat at the NHPC final table in two years, having lost to Phil Hellmuth in the final hand of last year's inaugural event. Forrest collected $500,000 for his win while Ferguson received $250,000.

Forrest, who has also won five World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets, defeated five of his fellow pros to reach the final table where he outplayed Ferguson in the best-of-three-final.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Forrest said of his win: "The players here are all super-high caliber so it means a lot. I've kind of seen what my opponents were willing to give me and adjusted at the table."

Chris "Jesus" Ferguson said: "I would have absolutely loved, loved to win this. It's a very, very important championship, in my opinion. But you can't do it every year. I'm really proud of finishing second two years in a row. That's way harder than winning it once."

The 2006 NHPC was hosted by TV star and poker enthusiast Gabe Kaplan in the new poker room at Caesars Palace from Friday, March 3, until the early hours of Tuesday, March 7. The playing field consisted of 64 of the pro circuit's top players.

This year's format saw the pros settling down to play their first round matches on Saturday, March 4, in four different brackets: hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs.

On Sunday, March 5, the series continued until only 8 players remained. They were: Jim McManus and Chris Ferguson (Clubs), Huck Seed and Barry Greenstein (Spades), Daniel Negreanu and Sean Sheikhan (Hearts), and Ted Forrest and Sam Farha (Diamonds).

The final competition was played out on Monday, March 6.

Final tournament results are as follows:

1st Ted Forrest $500,000
2nd Chris "Jesus" Ferguson $250,000
T4 Shawn Sheikhan $125,000
T4 Huck Seed $125,000
T8 Sam Farha $75,000
T8 Daniel Negreanu $75,000
T8 Jim McManus $75,000
T8 Barry Greenstein $75,000
T16 Ernie Durack $25,000
T16 David Grey $25,000
T16 Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi $25,000
T16 T.J. Cloutier $25,000
T16 David Chesnoff $25,000
T16 Scott Fischman $25,000
T16 Josh Arieh $25,000
T16 Amir Vahedi $25,000

Other pros who competed in the NHPC include Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Howard Lederer, Erick Lindgren, Gus Hansen, Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer, Antonio Esfandiari, and Phil Ivey. Defending champion Phil Hellmuth was knocked out during the first round of matches by Chip Reese, who was then knocked out by Ferguson in the following round.

NBC is scheduled to broadcast ten hours of NHPC play in a six-episode special airing in April and May. The 2005 NHPC was viewed by over four million homes when it was broadcast on NBC last spring. It is estimated that six million viewers tuned in for the final episode.

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