The 2008 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship has ended, with Chris “Jesus” Ferguson having won the championship and the $500,000 first prize. In the final round, Ferguson defeated Andy Bloch in a best of three competition. The finals have been a familiar place for Chris Ferguson, as he made it to the finals of the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship in both 2005 and 2006, only to fall in the final round for runner-up finishes. Ferguson had no such trouble in 2008 as he made it to the finals and emerged victorious.
Andy Bloch was a last minute addition to the 64-player field after celebrity actor Brad Garrett withdrew from the field to return to work following the end of the Hollywood writers’ strike. Bloch was hoping to follow the path Paul Wasicka blazed in 2007. Wasicka had replaced Doyle Brunson after he withdrew and went on to win the championship. Bloch would fall to Ferguson, but he made it a very tough and entertaining battle.
In the first match, play started off slowly, both players looking to build momentum and a chip lead. Chris Ferguson took the early advantage, but it would disappear when Andy Bloch doubled up when he turned a flush to defeat Ferguson’s flopped set. Ferguson was now in trouble, and he would lose the match shortly after doubling Bloch up. On the final hand of the match, Chris Ferguson held [Ad][Kd] and flopped two pair on a flop of [Ah][9d][9s]. Ferguson bet and Bloch raised enough to put Ferguson all-in. Andy Bloch revealed [10d][9h] for a set, and after Ferguson drew blanks on the turn and river Bloch took a 1-0 lead.
In the second match, it was Andy Bloch who took the first advantage. After an hour of trading chips back and forth, Bloch forced Ferguson to fold a check-raise when he reraised all-in. This gave Bloch a sizable lead, but it would vanish on the next hand when Ferguson moved all-in with [Qd][Jd]. Bloch called with pocket threes, and a queen landed on the flop to double Ferguson up. The next major hand occurred when Ferguson once again doubled up after Bloch moved all-in on a flop of [10d][4c][5s] while holding [7c][6c]. Ferguson held pocket jacks and made the call. The [6d] fell on the turn, giving Bloch even more outs. However, Ferguson dodged every single out when the [9c] landed on the river. Ferguson would finish the match soon after when he made quad queens. Chris Ferguson had tied Bloch at one match apiece, forcing a third and final game.
The third match went much quicker than the first two. Ferguson took an early lead and had the chip advantage over Bloch when they went to the final hand. Ferguson was holding pocket jacks and bet on a flop of [10c][7s][3s] after Bloch checked to him. Bloch then check-raised Ferguson, who made the call. The [7h] fell on the turn, and Bloch bet out. Ferguson raised all-in, forcing Bloch to make a decision. Unsure of what to do, Bloch made his decision with a quarter, declaring “Heads I call, Tails I fold.” After the quarter came down heads, Bloch called and revealed his [10s][4s] for two pair and a flush draw. The river card sealed the match as the [7c] landed on the board.
Chris Ferguson finally won the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship in 2008, taking home the $500,000 grand prize. Andy Bloch would receive $250,000 for his excellent runner-up performance.