- Andrew Feldman, ESPN.com
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Due to annual questions of why certain players have or have not been invited to the National Heads-Up Poker Championship (NHUPC) event, the selection committee has implemented a list of criteria that will result in automatic invites to the popular heads-up tournament.
The press release noted that the selection process would be similar in nature to automatic qualifiers in other sports, using the poker world's biggest events as achievements worthy of an automatic bid.
This year's field is complete with talent. There are 11 former heads world champions, six WPT players of the year and a combined 112 WSOP bracelets. By creating the additional criteria, the field is sure to remain as strong as possible.
Here are the categories in which a player can earn an automatic bid to the NHUPC:
• Previous five National Heads-Up Poker Champions
• Previous two National Heads-Up runners-up
• Defending National Heads-Up semifinalists
• Any player who cashes in the past four consecutive years of the NHUPC
• Previous three World Series of Poker main event champions
• Defending World Series of Poker main event runner-up
• Beginning with the 2008 WSOP, multiple-bracelet winners in the same year will receive an automatic invitation to the next Heads-Up Championship
• Defending World Series of Poker Player of the Year
• Defending World Series of Poker Heads-Up Champion
• Defending World Series of Poker Europe main event champion (must be 21 or older)
• Reigning World Poker Tour Player of the Year
• Reigning Monte Carlo European Poker Tour Grand Final Champion (must be 21 or older)
• Reigning Card Player magazine Player of the Year
• Reigning Bluff magazine Player of the Year
• Reigning ALL IN magazine Player of the Year
• Online and NBC qualifiers (1-3) (must be 21 or older)
• Host venue qualifiers (2)
With the list, the committee is taking the best of the poker world every year and outlining a process in which there can be up to 27 different players who are guaranteed an invite the following year. One unfortunate result is that Annette Obrestad, the WSOP Europe main event champion, is ineligible based on her age and her inability to play in the US until 2010. Additionally, the committee also reserves the right to withhold an invitation to a player in certain circumstances.
The NHUPC airs every Sunday on NBC at noon.
The National Heads-Up Poker Championship selection committee announced the criteria to earn automatic bids to the event.