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Who Had Easiest Path to Finals in NBC Heads-Up Championship?

10 March 2011, By: compncards
NBC Finals
NBC Finals

The folks on another "poker news" website posted an article debating who had the tougher road to the NBC National Heads-Up Final. For those of you that don't know or don't care, Erik Seidel faced Chris Moneymaker in the finals. I figured I would give my opinions on who had the tougher route to the finals.

These were Moneymaker's opponents:

Round 1 - John Racener

Round 2 - Daniel Cates

Round 3 - Doyle Brunson

Quarters - David Oppenheim

Semis -  Jonathan Duhamel

 

These were Seidel's opponents:

Round 1 - Allen Cunningham

Round 2 - Jen Harman

Round 3 - Phil Gordon

Quarters - Vanessa Selbst

Semis - Andrew Robl

Let's look at Seidel's opponents first.

In the first round he faced Allen Cunningham. Allen has an impressive resume true, but what has he done lately?  Take out a "made for TV" event he won, and the only thing he has done in the last 3 years is bubble the LAPC final table.

Similar can be said for Jennifer Harman. Her last significant NL Hold'em cash was in 2008. Yes, she made 2 final tables at the WSOP last year, but they were stud-based games.

In round 3, Erik had a bye. Sorry to Phil Gordon fans out there, but even Mike Matusow has come out saying that Gordon should give up his Full Tilt red pro seat because he does nothing in the game. Phil is a nice guy sure, but that does not make him a threat at the poker table.

It wasn't until the quarters that Seidel had a legitimate challenge. Vanessa Selbst is by far the hottest female player in poker right now, and one of the best NL players. That is the match of this tournament that I want to see.

In the semis, Seidel had in my opinion his 2nd-strongest test in Andrew Robl, but Robl I didn't feel stood much of a shot against Seidel. (Or Selbst honestly.)

Chris Moneymaker on the other hand had a tough road to hoe.

First, he had to face the 2010 WSOP Main Event runner-up and long time pro John Racener. Racener in my opinion had by far the better skill set and was my pick to advance over Moneymaker.

In round 2, Moneymaker faced Daniel Cates. I think that Tom Dwan can attest to the skill of Cates at the heads-up table. I figured Moneymaker to be like Emmitt Smith and fall in the 2nd round, but I was wrong.

It is seldom that you view Doyle Brunson as an easy challenge, but in comparison to the first two players, @TexDolly was an easier third round opponent. The problem is that Doyle is like Michael Jordan when he played on the Wizards. Doyle might be old, but he still better than over 70% of poker players alive.

I still was favoring Doyle, even though I knew it would benefit Chris more to win. By the time we reached the quartfinals, everyone was talking about Moneymaker and for the first time, I gave him a legit chance to get past David Oppenheim.

Had this been HORSE, Moneymaker would have been crushed. However, this was NL Hold'em, so I felt Moneymaker had a shot.

The semi-final match for Moneymaker was a strong test as he faced Jonathan Duhamel, the current WSOP World Champion. I was "hoping" Moneymaker would win so that Seidel would have an easier time in the final, but I figured that Moneymaker's streak was going to end.

I felt that Duhamel's aggressiveness might be too much for the 2003 champ. I was again wrong. Of course, I wasn't wrong about the finals. I figured Seidel would steamroll to the win, and that is pretty much what he did. Well, actually he steamrolled round 1 and Moneymaker bluffed away round 2 to Seidel. Either event, Seidel won.

Seidel clearly had the easier path to the finals. In fact, I felt that other than the Vanessa Selbst match, the draw could not have been stacked easier for him. But then again what do I know?  I only picked the winner and won $100 on the deal.

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