Professional poker’s "bad boy" Phil Hellmuth will return to defend his title in the second annual National Heads-Up Poker Championship this spring at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
At stake is a total of $1.5 million, including a $500,000 first prize. The competition, set for March 4-6, will be telecast in a six-part, 10-hour series on NBC in April and May.
Hellmuth has committed along with legends Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson to compete in the event, which debuted successfully last year with an average audience of some four million viewers for each of six afternoon broadcasts in May.
It was the first time a broadcast television network devoted a series of telecasts to the burgeoning sport of poker, using a distinctive, one-on-one format that provides confrontational tension and drama as players advance through the field.
"The title is more important than the money," Hellmuth said last year in reference to the stature of the new, Texas Hold ”˜em event, which has room for only 64 players in the single-elimination, college basketball championship-style tournament. By contrast, the World Series of Poker accommodates some 6,500 entries.
Among the other stars who have committed to the event are Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Howard Lederer, Jennifer Harman, Annie Duke, Gus Hansen, Chip Reese, Chris Ferguson, Eric Lindgren and Barry Greenstein. Last year’s elite field included a total of 11 World Series of Poker main event champions.
One slot in the tournament will be awarded to the winner of the National Heads-Up Online Poker tournament, an open competition at the tournament’s website, www.nbcheadsup.com.
The recently-opened poker room at Caesars Palace caters to the recreational poker player as well as the seasoned veteran.
The room features 30 tables, offering a vast array of games including Texas Hold’em, Seven-Card Stud and Omaha. In addition to the remarkable 8,500 square-foot main poker room, Caesars is one of the only casinos in Las Vegas to also offer an adjoining tournament area, providing an additional 6,000 square feet of playing space and 33 tournament tables.
Players entering the beautiful space will be greeted by 11 original LeRoy Neiman paintings that showcase nearly 40 years of Caesars Palace history. More than 20 large-screen high-definition TV sets adorn the walls. An extensive menu and dedicated cocktail service allow players to have food and beverage delivered directly to the tables during play.
Caesars new poker room is located adjacent to the massive race and sports book.