Seidel Adds to Epic Year with Heads-Up Win
Adding to an already legendary start to 2011, veteran rounder Erik Seidel took down the NBC Heads-Up Championship last night to become poker's all-time leading money winner.
With $3.6m in tournament earnings in the first two months alone, including wins in the $250k Aussie Millions Super High Roller and the $25k High Roller in L.A, Seidel was already teetering on what some say is the most impressive 60 days in poker history.
He took his epic start to another level yesterday, beating Chris Moneymaker for the Heads-Up Championship and another $750k, moving him into first place on poker's all-time money list in the process.
"I have competed in the NHPC since 2005 and lost to Annie Duke in the finals at last year's tournament, so my win today is truly special," Seidel said in a release. "It is always exciting to compete against my fellow poker players who showcased great skill on the tables this year."
The 2011 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship kicked off on Friday at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas with 64 players looking to claim the most prestigious heads-up title in poker.
The first round was pretty standard with many of those expected to advanced - a notable exception being Phil Ivey, who fell in the first round to online poker superstar Daniel "Jungleman12" Cates.
Emmitt Smith was the only celebrity player to advance out of the first round when he stunned 2010 WPT Championship winner David Williams.
Two surprise players that made the field of 16 included 2003 WSOP Main Event champ Chris Moneymaker and former Celebrity Poker host Phil Gordon.
Gordon ran into Seidel in the round of 16 however, and Seidel's domination continued. Moneymaker defeated poker legend Doyle Brunson to make the Elite 8 and players started talking about whether Moneymaker had a legitimate shot to take this event down.
Andrew Robl was one of the alternates that received a seat after both Annie Duke and Howard Lederer withdrew, and he made the most of it. He made the Hearts Bracket final against David Benyamine and defeated him to move to the final four.
The Diamonds Bracket saw old school vs new school in the quarterfinals when Seidel took on Vanessa Selbst. The hottest female player on the planet could not stop the Seidel express however and he moved on to face Robl in the semi-finals.
The Clubs Bracket final was 2010 WSOP Main Event champion Jonathan Duhamel facing Olivier Busquet. The 2010 champ was too strong and this set up the other semi-final match with Moneymaker, who defeated David Oppenheim in the Spades Bracket final.
The first semi-final match saw Moneymaker stun Duhamel when both flopped top pair but Moneymaker outkicked Duhamel to move on to the finals. The Seidel vs Robl match ended when Seidel flopped threes-full and managed to get Robl to commit his stack at the river.
Seidel moved on to the finals for the 2nd year in a row.
Heading into the finals, most players were banking on Seidel to take it down. Nobody really gave Moneymaker a shot to win, and some actually questioned whether he should be here. A win would be a definitive statement by the former world champion.
The final match-up is a best of three match. The first match of the finals was controlled by Seidel from the start. He never trailed and in the final hand Moneymaker moved all-in with an open-ended straight draw against the top pair of Seidel.
Moneymaker couldn't make his straight and Seidel led 1-0.
Moneymaker jumped out to a quick lead in match two and it looked like he might pull even with Seidel. That was until a failed bluff sent a huge pot to Seidel.
On a rainbowed board of 10-A-4-8-8, Moneymaker made a huge river bet. Seidel made the call with A-2, which was good enough to snap off Moneymaker's bluff with jack-high. Seidel led 1.3 million to 300k at this point.
In the final hand, Moneymaker checked to Seidel with the board showing 9-5-5. Seidel bet and Moneymaker check-raised all-in.
Seidel made the call and flipped over 5-4 for trip fives. Moneymaker was on another bluff and showed K-10, needing running cards to win. The turn blanked and Seidel was the champion.
For his win, Seidel received $750,000 and took over the top spot on poker's All-Time Money List from Daniel Negreanu with $14,697,297 in career earnings.
Moneymaker took home $300,000, his largest score since winning the 2003 WSOP Main Event.