NBC has put the National Heads Up Poker Championship on indefinite hold, essentially canceling the show. With the loss of online poker sponsorship dollars in the United States, most US based poker shows have been canceled over the past six months. The HUPC has now joined those ranks, even though the show had excellent ratings and production values were not as expensive as many other shows. Just another thing to thank the Department of Justice for – A production crew out of work, a casino empty, a widely popular show canceled, and the economy gets that much smaller.

Of course we’re a little grumpy, but we loved the show! We built a whole website around it! And now it’s canceled! Grrrr.

A Rant

The NBC Heads Up Poker National Championship should really be called the NBC Heads Up Celebrity Invitational, and I’ll tell you why.

A National Championship infers that it’s the best players in the nation playing for the championship. If three small schools in West Virginia decided to play a basketball tournament and call it the National Championship, they would be ridiculed for not inviting the best of the best. They just aren’t inviting the best players. There are lots of ways to qualify, many of which insure that many of the best heads up players get in every year. Check out the ways to qualify on the page we have dedicated to it – Qualification Page.

As you can see on that page, most of the people who make it in will be solid players, and many of them will be excellent heads up players, but there is a very good chance that the best heads up players in the world are not going to be invited. Let’s start by dissecting the current invite scheme.

The biggest problem with the current invite scheme, is that they invite celebrities who are not strong players, simply because they bring in ratings. At least they think they bring in ratings. I can’t remember ever hearing anyone say they were running home to watch Don Cheadle play poker, and Brad Garrett has caused me to turn the channel when the tournament coverage is usually captivating. Youtube views also show that people want to watch Hellmuth play against Durr, not Cheadle play against Woods. The tournament is interesting because we get to see the best players in the world test their skills directly against each other in an intimate setting, not because we get to watch a comedian get crushed by Jesus Ferguson yet again.

This also creates another problem. If one of the celebrities gets lucky and win it, the tournament not only loses credibility, but they may end up inviting a celebrity back for five years when their career goes right into the crapper. Just what we need, five more years of Jason Alexander!

If we wanted to fix this, we would have to look at who the best heads up players in the world actually are. The best heads up players in the world aren’t all household names, but they may very well be interesting personalities. Some of them would be very socially awkward because they are young online players. I can’t imagine better TV than watching uncomfortable, borderline autistic, math wizards who haven’t been out of the house in years playing against grizzled old poker pros who haven’t left a poker room in years. Now that would be good television!

It would be easy to find these guys, there are sites like that keep records of online players results. Finding the best online heads up players would be easy, and inviting the top ten would really liven up the field and ensure that the strongest heads up players were represented. Having a few more feeder tournaments online would help too. Inviting the 200 best heads up players according to sharkscope to a qualifier where the top players gets a seat would generate interest in fighting for those top spots and give everyone whop plays those heads up sit and gos for a living a chance to play the biggest heads up tournament in the world on the big stage at NBC.

It’s unlikely that major changes will be made to the invitation system because the tournament already makes a lot of money for NBC, but maybe they’ll get around to inviting a few more online pros and a few less bad actors in future years.

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An Interesting Article from Poker News Daily

Poker news site Poker News Daily writer Dan Katz posted an interesting critique of the 2011 field yesterday. It’s a good read, well thought out and well written. You have to register to read the whole thing, but it’s free and no hassle, just sing up in about 12 seconds and log in to read it. News about the NBCHUC (we love calling it that) will be sparse for at least a few more months before qualifiers start for the 2012 event, so we’ll take any news we can get. Check out the article HERE.

New Videos

We’ve added videos to the Videos page, with more to come over the next few weeks. We have interesting matches from multiple years featuring Phill Hellmuth, Tom Dwan, Phil Laak, Emmit Smith, Elky, and Phil Galfond. If you like to visit to learn about the game and find recommended sites, then you have come to the right place. Here, we are also interested in poker and we aim to bring you some great entertainment. Have a look around and check out what we have to offer. The 2011 videos are now available, and we will also be featuring the best matches from each year starting with 2005 and working our way through each year with new videos.

NBC National Heads Up Poker Championship Trophy


GoDaddy and Rousso sign on for another year

The 2012 NBC Heads Up Championship will again be sponsored by GoDaddy, and with Vanessa Rousso signed on as a Godaddy Girl through that time, we can expect to see the lovely poker pro as either a host or a player in next year’s event. Good news for Rousso fans and men who watch poker on television!

Site Launched!

There isn’t much news on the NBC Heads Up National Championship this time of year, but we’ll be here any time there are new developments. We will be covering any news that comes up over the coming year related to the players, sponsors and coverage of the tournament itself as well as hosting video of some of the best moments from the tournament.