National Heads-Up Poker Tournament returns to NBC

10 January 2013

National Heads-Up Poker Tournament returns to NBC

It won’t be long before spring will be hitting the airways, and soon, thanks to NBC, so will televised poker tournaments. The NBC Sports Group announced it’s reviving its relationship with the National Heads-Up Poker Championship with the first episode scheduled to air on March 19, 2013.

The National Heads-Up Poker Championship is a $20,000 buy-in, invitation-only tournament played as a series of one-on-one no limit Texas Hold’em. Featuring 64 of the world’s “it” poker players and celebrities, this tournament was the first poker event to hit television by a major US network. This year’s single-elimination, bracket-style tournament will be set at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. March Madness, indeed.

NBC cancelled the televised tournament in October 2011 after a seven-year run. It joined Poker After Dark (also on NBC) and Big Game (on Fox) as the largest televised casualties of poker’s Black Friday, when the two largest advertisers, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, were handed indictments by the Department of Justice.

Yet, as we see every year as winter melts into spring, new life rises from the ashes of what came before it. PokerStars emerged even stronger, making good on its (and even Full Tilt’s) promises and has the potential to gain a physical foothold in the US sometime this year. With individual states now in charge of their own online gambling destiny, poker players now have hope again that the game they love will not only become mainstream again, but also on prominent television networks, online, and in large tournament fashion.