The 32-player bracket has been set for the first-ever PokerGO Tour Heads-Up Showdown, which begins on Thursday, April 21 at the ARIA in Las Vegas. The 16 first-round matches will all be played tomorrow, starting with the Clubs and Diamonds bracket at noon PST and continuing with the Spades and Hearts brackets at 4:00pm. The round of 16 will be held at noon Friday, with the quarterfinals at 4:00pm. It’s the same timing on Saturday, April 23 for the semifinals and finals.
Here is how the brackets shape up, determined by a drawing on Tuesday night:
Sam Soverel vs. Sean Winter
Alex Foxen vs. Simon Yu
Shannon Shorr vs. Shaun Deeb
Justin Young vs. Richie Sklar
Jared Bleznick vs. Daniel Negreanu
Tamon Nakamura vs. Stanley Tang
Dylan Gang vs. Erik Seidel
Darren Elias vs. Landon Tice
Chino Rheem vs. Nick Schulman
Jeremy Ausmus vs. Chris Brewer
Ali Imsirovic vs. Jake Daniels
Bill Klein vs. Phil Galfond
Nicholas Rigby vs. Dan Shak
Eric Persson vs. Phil Hellmuth
Alex Livingston vs. Scott Ball
Scott Seiver vs. Isaac Kempton
Though the PGT Heads-Up Showdown is an invitational, it is not a freeroll; players must pony up a $25,000 buy-in. It does not appear that PokerGO will take a fee, as the prize pool is $800,000. Just four players will cash: the winner gets $400,000, the runner-up receives $200,000, and the two other semifinalists will get $100,000 each.
All three days of the event will be live streamed by PokerGO and the first day will also be uploaded to PokerGO’s YouTube channel.
PokerGO president and Poker Hall of Famer Mori Eskandani also produced NBC’s National Heads-Up Poker Championship, which ended eight years ago, so he certainly knows what he is doing when it comes to a heads-up tournament.
Speaking with The Sporting News, Eskandani called heads-up poker “arguably the purest form of the game. Comparing the tournament to PokerGO’s “High Stakes Duel,” he added, “….with the PGT Heads-Up Showdown, we’re taking the exciting, fast-paced heads-up format and expanding it to a bracket-style tournament. Win, and you advance to the next round. Lose, and you go home. It’s a tremendous format for a live broadcast poker event.”
In comparing this heads-up championship to the one he produced for NBC, Eskandani said there are two main differences. First, today’s poker audience is much more knowledgeable, so there no need to hold the viewers hand, explaining how poker works, while at the same time, the stats and information included needs to be more advanced. The second difference is simply the players. While Erik Seidel, Daniel Negreanu, and Phil Hellmuth, give long-time fans familiar faces, there are lots of newer ones that deserve the spotlight.