Actions spoke louder than words yesterday, as two players with reputations for vocalising their opinions at the tables clashed in the climax of the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship. It was a confrontation that both the public gathered at Caesar´s Palace and the NBC television producers longed to see, and there were not to be disappointed.
Matusow had reached the final of the event by beating Michael Mizrachi, Viktor Blom, Barry Greenstein, John Hennigan and Scott Seiver. Phil Hellmuth´s journey to the best-of-three decider was no less easy; having to overcome Mike Sexton, Justin Smith, David ‘Doc’ Sands, Eugene Katchalov and Joe Serock in pursuit of the $750,000 first prize and NBC Heads-Up Champion´s Ring.
Matusow Takes Game One, but Hellmuth Levels
The opening game saw Matusow three times develop a chip advantage, only for Hellmuth to double-up back into contention. It was fourth time unlucky for Hellmuth, as he shoved once too often with 5♦ 5♥ and was out-flopped for the first game by Matusow´s A♠ Q♦ – the board running A♥ K♠ 6♦ / 8♠ / 2♣. Matusow 1-0 Hellmuth.
Game two looked like heading Matusow´s way when he had Hellmuth covered in a K♦ K♥ v A♣ K♣ hand early in the match. However, the A♠ fell on the Turn to give Phil Hellmuth a significant chip advantage in the tie – one he eventually pressed home when Matusow got the last of his chips into the middle with 6♥ 6♠ – only to run into Hellmuth´s pocket Tens. Matusow 1-1 Hellmuth.
Diamonds are Matusow´s Best Friend
The final game was decided on a fortunate flush draw – fortunate at least for Mike Matusow. Following the flop of K♦ J♠ 2♦, Hellmuth (K♠ 10♥ – top pair) check-called Matusow´s (4♦ 8♦) 32,000 chip min-raise, but on the 6♠ turn Hellmuth check-raised Matusow for the last of his chips. Matusow took his time before making the call, but was quick out of his seat to celebrate the Q♦ on the river completing his Diamond Flush. Matusow 2-1 Hellmuth.
I’m on top of the world right now exclaimed Matusow after play concluded.
Yes, it is just a poker tournament, but it means a lot. For guys like me and Phil [Hellmuth], where everyone was making fun and upset that the final was us two, ‘Oh Phil and Mike, what are they doing in the final?’ You know what, we are the old guys, but where are the young players? They’re not here. We are.
NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship Result
|#||NBC Heads-Up Championship||Prize|
|1||Mike Matusow||$ 750,000|
|2||Phil Hellmuth||$ 300,000|
|3||Scott Seiver||$ 100,000|
|4||Joe Serock||$ 100,000|
|5||Eugene Katchalov||$ 50,000|
|6||Brian Hastings||$ 50,000|
|7||John Hennigan||$ 50,000|
|8||Daniel Cates||$ 50,000|
|9||David ‘Doc’ Sands||$ 25,000|
|10||Dan Smith||$ 25,000|
|11||Tom Dwan||$ 25,000|
|12||Joseph Cheong||$ 25,000|
|13||Antonio Esfandiari||$ 25,000|
|14||Barry Greenstein||$ 25,000|
|15||Vanessa Rousso||$ 25,000|
|16||Phil Ivey||$ 25,000|