Erik Seidel has defied the odds to continue his fine run of form by winning the NBC National Heads-Up Championship at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas against a very elite field of poker professionals.
The tournament consisted of 64 of the best players in poker. In a heads-up format the tournament took the style of a knock out system with players progressing as they beat their opponent in a heads-up match. Participants that started the tournament included Phil Ivey, Jonathan Duhamel, Doyle Brunson, Chris Moneymaker, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Peter Eastgate, Gus Hansen, and many more. This was basically the crème de la crème of poker coming together to see who was the best heads-up player.
Seidel was looking to go one better than last year when he finished runner up to Annie Duke having defeated established names such as Peter Eastgate, Chris Moneymaker and Scotty Nguyen. This year, he succeeded in going one step further. His path to the final was slightly, with all due respect to his opponents, easier than in 2010. His only major challenge came when he defeated the tough playing Allen Cunningham. After that the prestige of his opponent made Seidel the favourite all the way to the final. He took the scalps of Jennifer Harman, Phil Gordon, Vanessa Selbst, Andrew Robl and then finally Chris Moneymaker in the final.
There’s never an easy game in poker but compared to 2010, the poker Gods had sent a decent set of opponents for the high quality playing ability of Seidel. The tournament will be remembered for the final when two of poker’s most illustrious names went heads-up for the Championship. Seidel played what can only be described as the archetypal heads-up strategy as he patiently worked away at Moneymaker’s chip stack. Seidel won the first match despite Moneymaker’s late attempt to get back in the tie with a straight all-in win. Moneymaker lost the match not long after his small renaissance to hand Seidel the first game. The second match was a lot closer and more intense with Moneymaker’s survival now on the line. Moneymaker sealed his own fate by calling an all-in when he had a King of diamonds and a 10 of diamonds with a flop containing 9 of hearts, 5 of diamonds and 5 of clubs. Seidel, like a predatory snake in the grass, could not believe his lunch had been handed to him on a plate. He called all-in with 4 of diamonds and 5 of spades to give him an immediate three of a kind and the NBC National Heads-Up Championship title with the $750,000 cash prize.
Seidel’s victory means his winnings for the year now reach an outstanding $4.3m. The actual figure itself is only made even more amazing when it is seen he has gained this amount over seven different tournaments in three different countries including three outright victories. 2011 is a startling year for this gifted player and for a man who is already a Poker Hall of Fame inductee, how much more is there for him to achieve? Is this the greatest poker player to have ever lived? The funniest thing is, he isn’t anywhere near finished yet!