A perennial Super Bowl advertiser, GoDaddy.com will bring its brand name to the felts of NBC’s National Heads-Up Poker Championship as its presenting sponsor. The tournament, which is entering its fifth season, runs from March 6th through March 8th at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The 64 player field competes in a style similar to the NCAA Basketball Tournament and will have $1.5 million up for grabs.
GoDaddy CEO and Founder Bob Parsons stated in a press release distributed by NBC on Tuesday, “The popularity of poker has grown thanks in large part to television and the internet. Being an industry leader for domain names and websites, we only sponsor the most exciting events. NBC and Caesars Palace are assembling a top-notch tournament with world-class players and I look forward to seeing some great action.” Scheduled to take part is Full Tilt Poker pro Chris Ferguson. In the four previous installments of the National Heads-Up Poker Championship, Ferguson has appeared in the final match three times. In 2005, he was defeated by Ultimate Bet pro Phil Hellmuth heads-up. In 2006, Ted Forrest bested him at the final table. Last year, he finally emerged victorious, beating Andy Bloch.
Also slated to participate in NBC’s tournament is 2008 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Champion Peter Eastgate. Last November, Eastgate became the youngest WSOP Main Event winner ever at age 22, breaking Hellmuth’s long-standing record of 24. Eastgate is fresh off a win in a $4,800 buy-in No Limit Hold’em Event held as part of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. In that tournament, he defeated German player Florian Langmann heads-up, taking home $343,000. The event attracted 273 entrants. Eastgate’s Main Event win was worth $9.1 million.
Doyle Brunson, a Las Vegas native, will also appear at the National Heads-Up Poker Championship. Brunson won the WSOP Main Event in 1976 and 1977, triumphing over Crandall Addington and Milo Jacobson, respectively. His most recent bracelet came in 2005 by virtue of taking down a $5,000 No Limit Hold’em Short-Handed event for $367,000. Brunson is tied for the second most number of WSOP bracelets at 10 with Johnny Chan, who is also scheduled to take part in the NBC spectacle. The pair trails Hellmuth, who has 11.
Leeann Tweeden, who handles hosting duties for NBC’s Poker After Dark, will serve as the sideline reporter for the National Heads-Up Poker Championship. Craig Hummer and Ali Nejad will contribute commentary. Nejad also works on Poker After Dark, while Hummer broadcasted for NBC from Beijing for the 2008 Olympics. The show is scheduled to hit the airwaves on six consecutive Sundays beginning on April 12th and running through May 17th.
GoDaddy is one of the world’s largest sources for purchasing and hosting domain names. The site is fronted by IndyCar driver Danica Patrick, who appeared on two Super Bowl commercials for GoDaddy. The first spoofed the steroid hearings of Major League Baseball, ending with a panel asking Patrick if she had “enhanced.” Her response: “Yes, I have enhanced. I’ve enhanced my image with a domain name and website from GoDaddy.com. GoDaddy is the world’s number one domain registrar.” The second commercial surrounded Patrick in the shower. Both aired on Sunday, February 1st during the game between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers. GoDaddy was founded by Parsons in 1997 and includes over 30 million domain names. It also owns Wild West Domains, Domains by Proxy, Starfield Technologies, and Blue Razor Domains.
In addition to Ferguson and Bloch, Phil Ivey and Huck Seed reached the final four of the last National Heads-Up Poker Championship. Those who took to the felts included Erick Lindgren, Daniel Negreanu, Jean-Robert Bellande, Jamie Gold, PokerStars ambassador Orel Hershiser, and actress Shannon Elizabeth, whom Bloch defeated in the first round. The pairings will be determined at a Draw Party at PURE Nightclub on March 5th. The ultimate winner must claim two out of three matches and the competition is open to the general public.