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NBC changes Heads-Up selection process
After four years as one of the world's top televised poker tournaments, the National Heads-Up Poker Championship selection committee has decided to implement a list of automatic invitations to potential guests.
Any player who qualifies in any of the following categories will receive an automatic invitation for the tourney:
- Previous 5 National Heads-Up Poker Champions
- Previous 2 National Heads-Up runners-up
- Defending National Heads-Up semifinalists
- Any player who cashes in the past 4 consecutive years of the National Heads-Up Poker Championship
- Previous 3 World Series of Poker Main Event Champions
- Defending World Series of Poker Main Event runner-up
- Beginning with the 2008 WSOP, multiple bracelet winners in the same year will receive an automatic invitation to the next Heads-Up Championship
- Defending World Series of Poker Player of the Year
- Defending World Series of Poker Heads-Up Champion
- Defending World Series of Poker Europe Main Event Champion (must be 21 or older)
- Reigning World Poker Tour Player of the Year
- Reigning Monte Carlo European Poker Tour Grand Final Champion (must be 21 or older)
- Reigning Card Player magazine Player of the Year
- Reigning Bluff Magazine Player of the Year
- Reigning ALL IN magazine Player of the Year
- Online and NBC qualifiers (1-3) (must be 21 or older)
- Host venue qualifiers (2)
If no one player qualifies in multiple categories there will be as many as 27 different players receiving an automatic invitation to the event.
NBC withholds the right to change the list at its own discretion, and add bids at any time. At the very least, the previously stated list will be used for the 2009 event. It should be noted that all players receiving an invite to the event are still required to buy in for the full entry fee, unless they win a seat through an online qualifier. Also, NBC reserves the right to withhold an invitation to any player in certain circumstances.
The winners over the first four years of the event include Phil Hellmuth (2005), Ted Forrest (2006), Paul Wasicka (2007) and Chris "Jesus" Ferguson (2008). Along with a star-studded list of poker players and celebrities, NBC's National Heads-Up Poker Championship is the most widely watched of all poker programming on television.