The only area that the PokerGO Tour had not gone in its tournaments was into the realm of heads-up poker…that is, until yesterday. The inaugural PokerGO Tour Heads-Up Showdown started at the PokerGO Studios in Las Vegas on Thursday, featuring thirty-two of the top players in the world. That field of thirty-two was cut down to sixteen in one day of poker, which will continue through the weekend until one player is crowned and receives the Heads-Up Showdown Golden Crown.

Negreanu, Seidel Advance to the Sweet Sixteen

The first eight matches saw some extremely good battles between the “old guard” and the “young guns” of the poker world. Daniel Negreanu squared off against Jared Bleznick, with Negreanu putting pressure on Bleznick from the start of the action. Negreanu’s aggression paid off as he quickly shot off to a sizeable lead before getting Bleznick’s final chips to the center.

With Bleznick at risk, Negreanu had to come back from a bit of a hole. His paint cards, K-Q, were a slight dog to the A-7 of Bleznick, but the fates would have something to say about the outcome. Bleznick caught an Ace on the flop, but Negreanu ran him down by hitting a Broadway straight on the turn. That left Bleznick drawing dead and Negreanu with his ticket punched to the Round of 16.

Erik Seidel had much the same course to his victory in the first round. Going up against Jared Jaffee, Seidel worked his way into the lead, but got into a situation that could have been devastating for him. With Jaffee at risk and holding pocket Queens, Seidel looked him up with a pocket pair of tens. The flop brought gold for Seidel in the form of another ten, giving him a set that Jaffee was not able to catch and sending Seidel on in the event.

Surprises Down the Bracket

There were some significant surprises on down the bracket, with a couple of results that could be considered “upsets.”

In one of those knockouts, it was a match that seriously could have gone either way. Sam Soverel and Sean Winter squared off against each other in an epic match, with Winter emerging victorious over Soverel after his A-10 topped Soverel’s 10-8. Another minor surprise was in the Shannon Shorr/Shaun Deeb battle. Shorr, who has started the 2022 “High Roller” season as one of the surprises, was able to vanquish Deeb and move on to the Sweet Sixteen.

Whether by their play or by their actions, the match between Eric Persson and Phil Hellmuth turned out to be the one everyone watched. With plenty of verbal sparring – both players were finally warned to turn down the rhetorical vitriol – the duo fought it out in a lengthy battle. Emerging as the victor, surprisingly, was Persson, who saw Hellmuth push into him with only a K-3 when Persson held pocket Aces.

Sweet Sixteen to Final Four on Friday

Plans on Friday will see the Sweet Sixteen whittled down to the Final Four. This is how they will line up when action resumes at noon (Pacific Daylight Time) on Friday:

Sean Winter v. Alex Foxen
Shannon Shorr v. Justin Young
Daniel Negreanu v. Tamon Nakamura
Erik Seidel v. Darren Elias
David ‘Chino’ Rheem v. Jeremy Ausmus
Jake Daniels v. Bill Klein
Dan Shak v. Eric Persson
Scott Ball v. Isaac Kempton

After these eight events play out, the Elite Eight will cut down to the Final Four as such:

Winter/Foxen winner v. Shorr/Young winner
Negreanu/Nakamura v. Seidel/Elias
Rheem/Ausmus v. Daniels/Klein
Shak/Persson v. Ball/Kempton

Each of the thirty-two combatants have put up a $25,000 buy in, making the prize pool $800,000 (hey, PokerGO…how about kicking in a couple hundred grand to make it a $1 million prize pool?). Only the Final Four will make the money, with first taking $400,000, second $200,000, and the third and fourth place finishers picking up $100,000 each. The champion of the PokerGO Tour Heads-Up Showdown will be crowned on Saturday and all the action will be broadcast on the streaming PokerGO channel on a one-hour delay.

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