Heads-up on TV

May 2, 2006 12:33 AM


The National Heads-Up Poker Championship filmed last March at Caesars Palace continues to air on Sundays on NBC.

The tournament started with 64 top poker professionals who squared off in a March Madness-style of bracketed tournament.

National Nielsen Ratings for the second week of the Poker Championship reached an average overnight rating of 1.6, surpassing the already strong 1.4 from the first week’s telecast. For the second consecutive week Heads-Up outscored all afternoon sporting events except PGA Golf and NBA.

Among the top viewer-ship cities were Sacramento (4.6), Richmond (3.5), Las Vegas (2.8) and Boston (2.8). For the second consecutive week, Heads-Up topped NHL and Arena Football plus snowboarding, Champions Tour golf, NBA special, figure skating and gymnastics.

While cable ratings for poker are down some 25%, Heads-Up continues to demonstrate its viability versus both major league and non major league programming — a testimony to the big name poker players and to the attractiveness of the Heads-Up format.

This Sunday, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, runner-up in last year’s inaugural National Heads-Up Poker Championship, will take on Chip Reese in the Round of 32 — a marquee match-up that many believe will produce the eventual winner of their Clubs bracket.

Ferguson, who defeated Freddy Deeb in round one, looks to cast aside a red-hot Reese who last week eliminated 2005 Champion Phil Hellmuth. Reese, however, hopes to add Ferguson to his ever-growing list of big-name conquests.

Second round action will also feature Erick Lindgren vs. Huck Seed, Daniel Negreanu vs. Greg Raymer, and Doyle Brunson vs. Shawn "Shieky" Sheikhan.

On Sunday, May 7, the field will be reduced to the final eight. On the following Sunday, May 14, the quarterfinals will be featured, and a week later it’s the semi-finals and championship matches.