Thursday night, the 64 players competing in the 2008 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship got together at Caesars in Las Vegas for the pairing party in order to determine the match-ups for the fourth installment of this tournament, which starts Friday.The pairings were decided through completely random drawings.

A few first round match-ups of note:

• Not that it was going to be easy, but online qualifier Alisha Kunze gets the dubious honor of facing Phil Ivey, fresh off of his WPT win.
• Clonie Gowen versus Jennifer Tilly is the only all-female pairing.
• “Big Game” showdown between Sam Farha and Doyle Brunson.
• WSOP Champs — Chris Moneymaker versus Jerry Yang.
• Full Tilt buddies – Chris Ferguson versus John Juanda.

As was done in years past, the field is divided into four brackets: Spades, Clubs, Hearts, and Diamonds.Once the tournament reaches the “final four,” the winners of the red suit brackets will face each other in one semifinal, while the winners of the black suit brackets will compete in the other.

Below are the brackets.The match-up are listed in the order they have been placed in the official brackets, so you can forecast second round matches by simply pairing adjacent first round matches.For example, the winner of the Rousso/Esfandiari contest will meet the winner of the Elizabeth/Bloch match in the second round.

All times are Pacific.

Hearts Bracket – 10:15am

Vanessa Rousso vs. Antonio Esfandiari
Shannon Elizabeth vs. Andy Bloch
Todd Brunson vs. Scott Fischman
Jamie Gold vs. Tom Kelly
Ted Forrest vs. Orel Hershiser
Allen Cunningham vs. Chad Brown
Jean-Robert Bellande vs. Sam Grizzle
Freddy Deeb vs. Paul Wasicka

Diamonds Bracket – 1:15pm

Jason Alexander vs. Huck Seed
David Pham vs. Brian Townsend
Clonie Gowen vs. Jennifer Tilly
Daniel Negreanu vs. Michael Mizrachi
Barry Greenstein vs. Howard Lederer
David Benyamine vs. Jennifer Harman
Sam Farha vs. Doyle Brunson
Erick Lindgren vs. Eli Elezra

Clubs Bracket – 4:15pm

Jonathan Little vs.Erik Seidel
Patrik Antonius vs. Gabe Kaplan
Greg Raymer vs. Hooman Nikzad
Kenny Tran vs. Scott Clements
Mike Matusow vs. Joseph Hachem
Tom Dwan vs. Phil Hellmuth
Tom Schneider vs. Gavin Smith
Chris Ferguson vs. John Juanda

Spades Bracket – 6:45pm

Don Cheadle vs. Gus Hansen
Scotty Nguyen vs. Bill Edler
Jerry Yang vs. Chris Moneymaker
David Singer vs. Phil Laak
Phil Ivey vs. Alisha Kunze
David Williams vs. Johnny Chan
Daniel Schreiber vs. T.J. Cloutier
Annie Duke vs. J.C. Tran

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