There are few truly tolerable televised poker events left. The World Series, the occasional WPT, Poker After Dark, High Stakes Poker and any producation that hires Adam or Mike from Rounders The Poker Show off the top of our heads. And the NBC Heads Up Championship. March 1-4, 2007 at Caeser's Palace marks the third event of it's kind and once again the field is a mix of some of the best players in the world, some of the most marketed players in the world, a few hollywood celebs and couple of players who actually qualified.
28 Players are making their 3rd consecutive apearance including Rene 'Mr Celine Dion' Angelil, Todd Brunson, Johnny Chan, TJ Cloutier, Annie Duke, Eli Elezra, Antonio Esfandiari, Sam Farha, Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson(2 time runner-up), Scott Fischman, Ted Forrest(2006 Champion), Barry Greenstein, Gus Hansen, Phil Hellmuth(2005 Champion), Phil Ivey, John Juanda, Howard Lederer, Erick Lindgren, Chris Moneymaker, Carlos Mortenson, Daniel Negreanu, Scotty Nguyen, Greg Raymer, Chip Reese, Huckleberry Seed, Eric Seidel, Cyndy Violette and David Williams.
The NBC Heads-up Championship is a good barometer of which personalities are hot in the poker world and who may be losing some of their profile. Gone from appearing in both of the first two events include Josh Arieh, Bobby Baldwin, Evelyn Ng, Paul Phillips, David Grey, Lyle Berman, Freddy Deeb, Men 'The Master' Nguyen', Dr. Jerry Buss(owner of LA Lakers), Layne Flack, Amir Vahedi, Mike Caro and James Woods.
Replacing them are players who have made a big splash in the poker world over the past year such as Jamie Gold, Joe Hachem, Patrik Antonius, David Benyamine, John D'agostino, Nam Le, JC Tran, Jeff Madsen, Vanessa Rousso and Canada's own 'Yukon' Brad Booth.
Also not playing this year is the legendary Doyle Brunson whose absence only fuels internet rumours of a possible arrest. Brunson's online poker room, Doyle's Room pulled out of the US market entirely earlier this week.
Gavin Smith and the lovely Isabelle Mercier join Negreanu and Booth to round out the 4 player Canadian contingent.
If you're thinking, holy crap! that's a lot of Full Tilt sponsored players add Andy Bloch, Jen Harman, Clonie Gowan, Phil Gordon, Steve Zolotow and Allen Cunningham to the field and it becomes more than just a coincidence. With the entry of $20,000 to play, and most players having their entry paid by their sponsor, that becomes a very pricy endeavor for some major exposure for the Full Tilt Pros.
Mr. Jennifer Harman, Marco Traniello actually earned his way in through a satellite held at Caesar's earlier this month.
Once again several Hollywood celebrity poker players are in the field, including Shannon Elizabeth(American Pie), Jennifer Tilly(Bride Of Chucky), Don Cheadle(Hotel Rwanda) and Gabe Kaplan(Mr. Kotter). No word on whether Kaplan who has provided commentary for the first two years will be in the booth when he's not playing his match. The gorgeous Shana Hiatt who joined NBC as the host of Poker After Dark will add her charm and hotness to the proceedings as well.
The event will be televised for 7 consecutive Sundays starting April 8th and culminating in a three hour finale episode on May 20th. Check your local NBC listings for show times.