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Saturday, January 26, 2013
Heads-Up Championship: Elite Eight

Phil Hellmuth
Phil Hellmuth is back in the Heads-Up quarterfinals for the third time.

The National Heads-Up Poker Championship is down to its final eight players. Here's a look at the Elite Eight and how they reached the quarterfinals:

Spades Bracket: Mike Matusow versus John Hennigan:

The Mouth had a tough road to earn a spot in the final eight. Matusow defeated Michael Mizrachi in Round 1, online phenom Viktor Blom in Round 2 and Barry Greenstein in Round 3 to make it to the quarterfinals for the first time in his career. This is his third career Heads-Up cash.

Hennigan earned his second Heads-Up cash with victories over David Williams, Sam Simon and Phil Ivey. The two-time WSOP bracelet winner and WPT title holder has $3.5 million in tournament earnings throughout his career.

Clubs Bracket: Daniel Cates versus Scott Seiver:

When it comes to heads-up specialists, the name Daniel Cates, or rather 'Jungleman', is often the first player that comes to mind. While many expected Cates to truly compete in this event during his previous appearance, Cates fizzled out in Round 2. This year, Cates has defeated Matt Salsberg, Chris Moorman and Antonio Esfandiari to make it to the quarterfinals.

This year may just be Scott Seiver's year … again. Seiver is fresh off his $2 million score at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and continued to roll in Vegas with wins over Will Failla, Kyle Julius and Vanessa Rousso. Seiver has over $7 million in lifetime tournament earnings, but this will be his first Heads-Up cash.

Hearts Bracket: Phil Hellmuth versus Eugene Katchalov:

Neither of these players needs any sort of introduction. Hellmuth won the inaugural Heads-Up event in 2005 and will enter the quarterfinals for the third time. The 13-time bracelet winner defeated Mike Sexton, Justin Smith and David Sands thus far.

Katchalov is a master of all games and formats, and going by the number of career titles, it's safe to say heads-up, too. Katchalov has cashed in both of his Heads-Up appearances and earned his Elite Eight spot with wins over Faraz Jaka, Phil Galfond and Joseph Cheong.

Diamonds Bracket: Joe Serock versus Brian Hastings:

The reigning World Poker Tour Player of the Year doesn't want the fun to stop. Serock has stopped Greg Merson, Huck Seed and Dan Smith to reach the quarterfinals in his first NHUPC appearance. Serock is missing one thing from his resume -- a major live victory. That may change today.

In case you didn't remember, Hastings won the $10,000 Heads-Up event at the WSOP earlier this year, and similar to Cates above, he's a heads-up specialist. Think he has the experience to give him an edge? Hastings defeated Matt Matros, Eli Elezra and Tom Dwan in his previous matches and looks to add to his $768,376 in live tournament earnings.

All remaining players are guaranteed at least $50,000. The updated bracket can be found here.