Sweet 16 named for 'National Heads-up Poker Championship'

Call it April Madness. Like college basketball's March version, NBC's "2007 National Heads-Up Poker Championship" is sure to provide some epic battles and unheralded heroes, and they've started the build-up by naming the first 16 invitees.

Reigning champion Ted Forrest will be there. Reigning runner-up Chris "Jesus" Ferguson will be there. So will crowd favorites Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen and Sam Farha.

And they'll be joined by 59 others vying for the title of best face-to-face poker player in the world in the college hoops-inspired single-elimination, bracket-style format.

Win a match and advance to the next round; win six matches and be crowned 2007 champion, making an elite trio with previous winners Forrest and 2005 champ Phil Hellmuth.

The first round is seeded randomly during a live pairings party that will happen the night before the tournament begins. Players are divided into four brackets - Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, and Spades - and they'll play down until the semifinals are comprised of one player from each bracket.

A best-of-three-hands final then determines the champ.

Each episode will air Sunday at 3 p.m. (PST) beginning Apr. 8, and the series will finish with a three-hour episode May 20.

Here is the complete list of invitees so far for 2007.

The elite field will be joined this year by one freeroll satellite winner from NBCHeadsUp.com, and one winner from a live satellite on Feb. 10 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Related Article: Forrest Beats Ferguson for Heads-Up Title

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