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jesus2.jpgChris Ferguson reached the finals of the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship in both 2005 and 2006, finishing in second place both times. This year he reached the finals again, but this time came away with the victory, defeating Andy Bloch in a best-of-three series. Chris fell behind early in losing the first match, but came back strong to win the championship and $500,000.

Andy Bloch almost didn’t compete this year, as he was only invited as a last minute addition after Brad Garrett, an actor and comedian, had to withdraw from the tournament so that he could start working again after the Hollywood writers’ strike concluded. Paul Wasicka had been a last minute replacement in 2007, filling in for Doyle Brunson, and went on to win the championship. Bloch had hoped he could do the same, and very nearly did so. The final round between Chris Ferguson and Andy Bloch was both entertaining and exciting, as both players nearly succumbed several times throughout the final round.

Both players were cautious at the beginning of the first match, both trying to build up a chip lead and take the advantge. Chris Ferguson held the early lead, but Andy Bloch doubled up to take a commanding lead after making a flush on the turn to destroy Ferguson’s flopped set. The match would not last very long after the double up, as Ferguson had to make a move. On the final hand of the match, Chris Ferguson bet the flop of [Ah][9d][9s] and Bloch raised, putting Ferguson all-in. Andy Bloch showed his [10d][9h] for a set, which was good enough to beat Ferguson’s [Ad][Kd] after no help came on the turn or river. Andy Bloch now had a 1-0 lead.

Andy Bloch took the early lead in the second match after Ferguson folded to Bloch’s all-in after Ferguson check-raised. Like in the previous match, the early lead would not last. Ferguson moved all-in on the next hand with [Qd][Jd] and made a pair of queens on the flop to beat Bloch’s pocket threes. Ferguson doubled up again when Bloch pushed all-in on a flop that read [10d][4c][5s]. Ferguson called with pocket jacks and saw that he was ahead of Bloch’s [7c][6c]. The turn card gave Bloch five more outs when the [6d] landed on the board, but the [9c] on the river was not of those outs. Chris Ferguson and Andy Bloch wee now tied at one game each, and they moved on to the final match.

The third match did not last very long. Chris Ferguson took an early chip lead and was able to hold onto it for a win. In the final hand, Bloch checked a flop of [10c][7s][3s] and Ferguson bet with his pocket jacks. Bloch raised and Ferguson called the check-raise. The turn card was the [7h] and Bloch put in a bet. Ferguson responded by raising all-in, and Bloch thought for a while before coming to a non-decision. Bloch took out a quarter and after saying, “Heads I call, Tails I fold,” he flipped the coin. The quarter landed heads and Bloch made the call, showing [10s][4s] for two pair and a flush draw. The [7c] on the river ended the match.

Chris Ferguson won the 2008 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship, winning $500,000 for his victory. Andy Bloch took home the second place prize of $250,000.

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