Players face off Friday in NHUPC

Mike Matusow
Can The Mouth quiet his tilting ways to take home a National Heads-Up Poker Championship title?

This Friday, for the fourth straight year, Caesars Palace opens its tournament room to the world's best poker players - and the cameras of NBC - for the National Heads-Up Poker Championship.

The NHUPC is the granddaddy of all made-for-television poker tournaments. The heads-up format allows for the players' personalities to shine through, and the one-on-one drama matches that of any other televised sporting event. Then there's the money: whoever wins takes home $500,000.

The first-round brackets won't be determined until the draw party at Pure nightclub in Caesars Palace later tonight. The entrants for the tournament, however, have already been confirmed.

As usual, the field is composed mostly of world-class professional poker players and others who have won major tournaments. Eleven former Jonathan "FieryJustice" Little, Brian "sbrugby" Townsend, Daniel "Rekrul" Schreiber, Tom "durrrr" Dwan and Scott "BigRiskky" Clements will all make their NHUPC debuts on Friday at Caesars Palace.

Thanks to a few seats set aside for qualifiers, three other players will join the world's best at the NHUPC. Two players - business owner Hooman Nikzad and former Wall Street executive Tom Kelly - won their seats through satellites held at Caesars Palace. Alisha Kunze, a 23-year-old nursing student from Greensburg, Ind., won the final seat through a free promotion on PokerStars.net.

NBC will air the first two-hour installment of its tournament coverage on Sunday, April 13, at 12 p.m. (EDT), and subsequent episodes will air each of the next five Sundays.

In alphabetical order, here are this year's competitors, followed by the prize pool breakdown.

1. Alexander, Jason
33. Hershiser, Orel
2. Antonius, Patrik
34. Ivey, Phil
3. Bellande, Jean-Robert
35. Juanda, John
4. Benyamine, David
36. Kaplan, Gabe
5. Bloch, Andy
37. Kelly, Tom (Caesars Palace qualifier)
6. Brown, Chad
38. Kunze, Alisha (Online qualifier)
7. Brunson, Doyle
39. Laak, Phil
8. Brunson, Todd
40. Lederer, Howard
9. Chan, Johnny
41. Lindgren, Erick
10. Cheadle, Don
42. Little, Jonathan
11. Clements, Scott
43. Matusow, Mike
12. Cloutier, T.J.
44. Moneymaker, Chris
13. Cunningham, Allen
45. Mizrachi, Michael
14. Deeb, Freddy
46. Negreanu, Daniel
15. Duke, Annie
47. Nguyen, Scotty
16. Dwan, Tom
48. Nikzad, Hooman (Caesars Palace qualifier)
17. Edler, Bill
49. Pham, David
18. Elezra, Eli
50. Raymer, Greg
19. Elizabeth, Shannon
51. Rousso, Vanessa
20. Esfandiari, Antonio
52. Schneider, Tom
21. Farha, Sam
53. Schreiber, Daniel
22. Ferguson, Chris
54. Seed, Huck
23. Fischman, Scott
55. Seidel, Erik
24. Forrest, Ted
56. Singer, David
25. Gold, Jamie
57. Smith, Gavin
26. Gowen, Clonie
58. Tilly, Jennifer
27. Greenstein, Barry
59. Townsend, Brian
28. Grizzle, Sam
60. Tran, J.C.
29. Hachem, Joe
61. Tran, Kenny
30. Hansen, Gus
62. Wasicka, Paul
31. Harman, Jennifer
63. Williams, David
32. Hellmuth, Phil
64. Yang, Jerry

First place: $500,000

Second place: $250,000

Third & fourth place: $125,000

Fifth - eighth place: $75,000

Ninth - 16th place: $25,000

PokerListings.com will be live on the scene as well once the cards hit the felt to bring you live updates, reports, interviews, photos and more from the NHUPC. Check it out in the Live Tournaments section.

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