March Madness may be over, but PokerGO is bringing back the bracket battles for April. The streaming service unveiled the new PokerGO Tour Heads-Up Showdown this week with the complete bracket revealed on Tuesday.
The series features 32 players ponying up $25,000 each with action running April 21-23 in the PokerGO Studio at Aria in Las Vegas. The first round kicks off on Thursday and will be streamed on PokerGO as well as portions of the tournament on the company’s YouTube channel.
Viewers can expect to see some of the biggest names in poker such as Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Erik Seidel, Darren Elias, and more. Commentators Jeff Platt and Brent Hanks joined Aria tournament director Paul Campbell on Tuesday night in drawing the matchups.
“A little blast from the past,” Hanks said of the new event. “We wanted to do something reminiscent of the NBC Heads-Up Championship.”
A look at the brackets
Poker fans will find a deep roster of pros when the action gets started Thursday. The bracket is divided into four divisions: Spades, Diamonds, Clubs, and Hearts.
The ultimate winner takes home a top prize of $400,000 with the runner-up collecting $200,000. Third- and fourth-place finishers each earn $100,000 . Here’s a look at the first-round matchups in each division:
- 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
The winner of the Spades division then plays the Clubs winner. The Hearts winner takes on the Diamonds winner. Those two winners then square off for the title.
After the round of 32 plays out on Thursday, winners return on Friday for the Sweet 16 and quarterfinals. The semi-finals and finals are then set for Saturday.
A look at the matchups
A few early-round battles stand out. Shannon Shorr against Shaun Deeb promises to be a nice matchup of two bright poker minds. The Chino Rheem-Nick Schulman could also make for some nice viewing and interesting dynamics.
Darren Elias battling Landon Tice may also be worth checking out. Look for a little old school versus new school in the Bill Klein-Phil Galfond duel.
The entire tournament offers a shot at some other interesting matches as well, depending how things turn out. A Deeb-Negreanu clash would also be intriguing because of some past Twitter beefs. In 2019, the players went back and forth over a divorce side bet involving Negreanu’s new marriage.
Hellmuth versus Galfond would also be a battle of wits. Both are smart and have incredible skills in the heads-up realm.
One of the more interesting matchups would have to be in the finals. Alex Foxen recently accused Ali Imsirovic of cheating in the recent Super High Roller Series Europe as well as at online poker.
The two players meeting in the finals would certainly make for some fireworks and plenty of tension.
The picks are in
No preview of this event would be complete without a few fun picks to sweat. USPoker contributor Anthony Cicali and editor Sean Chaffin offer their own selections below.
Look for Deeb-Negreanu and Hellmuth-Galfond in the final four. Of those matchups, Cicali sees a rematch from High Stakes Duel with Hellmuth-Negreanu meeting for the title and the Poker Brat coming out on top.
“In the end, Hellmuth pulls off the victory,” he says. “He has been on fire lately and his ‘white magic’ is undeniable at this time. I think this will be a lengthy battle and Negreanu will put up a hell of a fight, but Phil will come out on top.”
The Imsirovic-Foxen matchup just seems too unlikely and Chaffin went with winners of the NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship. Only two of those are in the field. Hellmuth won in 2005 and finished runner-up in 2013.
Look for him in the final four along with 2011 winner Erik seidel. Shannon Shorr has also been hot lately and so has Chino Rheem. Look for Seidel versus Shorr and Hellmuth against Rheem in the final four.
“I think this ends in a real contrast of characters – Hellmuth matching up against Shorr,” Chaffin says. “Can Phil be stopped heads-up? I think it just seems like the time and Shorr comes out on top.”
Make your own picks with prizes on the line
Poker fans can fill out their own brackets here using 40849 as the league ID and the password: “Showdown22”. Negreanu entered his own picks this week and fittingly has himself in the final four.
I filled out my bracket.
I got a final 4 matchup of
Daniel Negreanu vs Alex Foxen
Scott Seiver vs Nick Schulman https://t.co/NZF7H0EznM
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) April 20, 2022
Those making selections have a few prizes to play for courtesy of PokerGO including:
- 1st – “No Gamble, No Future” T-shirt, signed winner photo, $50 gift card to PokerGO Shop
- 2nd – T-shirt, $25 gift card to PokerGO Shop
- 3rd – T-shirt, $10 gift card to PokerGO Shop
Anthony Cicali contributed to this report.