Consider them the “cool kids” of poker.Twenty poker players, almost all household names in the poker world, have been extended invitations by NBC to compete in the 2008 National Heads-Up Poker Championship, which will run February 29 through March 2 at Caesars Palace.

Nobody has officially accepted the invitation yet, but expect most, if not all, of them to appear in the tournament.The one notable exception to last year’s field was the Championship’s first winner, Phil Hellmuth, who had a prior tournament commitment in Europe.

Pairings will be determined on February 28.The first twenty invitees are below.

Doyle Brunson
Johnny Chan
Annie Duke
Shannon Elizabeth
Antonio Esfandiari
Chris Ferguson
Ted Forrest
Jamie Gold
Barry Greenstein
Jennifer Harman
Phil Ivey
Howard Lederer
Erick Lindgren
Jonathan Little
Mike Matusow
Scotty Nguyen
Gavin Smith
Brian Townsend
Paul Wasicka
Jerry Yang

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