National Heads Up ChampionshipOfficials from Caesars Entertainment and the organisers of the National Heads Up Poker Championship have announced the field of players for this year’s tournament, which sees the winner of the tournament’s inaugural year confirmed to participate in the final 32.

Phil Hellmuth’s former status as champion of the tournament left little doubt that he would be chosen for the list, and his strong performance over the last 12 months solidified his place in the event. The last year for Hellmuth has indeed been a prosperous 12 months which has seen him win the WSOP-E Championship, as well as his first non-No Limit bracelet at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. For the second consecutive year, he was also runner up in the race to claim the title of World Series of Poker Player of the Year.

Also leading the list of the final 32 players is Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi who recently celebrated his second victory in the World Series Of Poker $50,000 Poker Players’ Championship.

Other notable entrants to the tournament recently announced include Eli Elezra, Matt Matros, Phil Laak and David Williams, as well as former champion Huck Seed, World Poker Tour Player of the Year Joe Serock, and Global Poker Index Player of the Year Dan Smith.Eric Seidel also returns this year to defend his title as winner of last year’s National Heads Up Poker Championship .

The total number of female entrants in the National Heads Up Poker Championship has now risen to four with the announcement of Jennifer Tilly and Jennifer Harman’s participation in the final 32 players. Earlier announcements confirmed that Gaelle Baumann and Liv Boeree will be competing for a big payout from the tournament.

Recent headliner Vanessa Selbst reportedly declined her invitation to the event stating that she “decided to go to Aussie Millions instead this year” to her followers.

Though the tournament player field may be set by invitation only, those participating must still front $20,000 to compete in the National Heads Up Poker Championship. This will mean an initial prize-pool of $1.28 million, which Caesars is expected to add to in order to raise the prize-pool to the $1.84 million required if the championship’s payout structure is set up the same way as 2011.

If this same payout structure is used, then it is expected that the first place winner will receive $750,000, the second place runner up would receive $300,000, the two semi-finalists would be awarded $125,000, and $75,000 would go to the four quarter-finalists, leaving payouts of $30,000 to each of the next eight runners up.

Followers now eagerly await the draw party which will be held on Wednesday January 23rd, at which point the first round matchups will be revealed at Caesars Palace, with play commencing the following day and running until Saturday January 26th.