The National Heads-Up Poker Championship offers a lot of poker-related content, not much actual poker, and depicts a format that most of us don't play. I give it one and half stars.
The third episode showed 19 full hands. That's not the worst on TV (the first episode of ESPN's 2006 WSOP Main Event coverage showed 9), but there's a lot of non-poker content: a piece on Johnny Chan's clothes; a bet for Jimmy Choo shoes; clips from Shannon Elizabeth's movies; and video from the Pairings Party. Plenty more time is spent on players talking to the camera, rather than showing hands.
When they do show hands, it's never enough for us to get a sense of a match. The most hands I've seen from a single match so far is five, so it's more a highlights show than an event broadcast. You won't learn anything about heads-up hand values from the selection of big hands they show. They rarely mention the blinds. If they show the chip stacks at all, they fly by quickly in a corner where most people will miss them. Some of the graphics are too small to read on many TVs.
The NHUPC is a made-for-TV, invitational event. The format is one most of us don't play; and the seats are filled based on celebrity rather than earned through talent.
Ali Nejad's commentary grates on a lot of people, including me. In this show, fortunately, he controls his inner Norman Chad most of the time. His commentary is generally sound, though I could swear I heard him say Don Cheadle shouldn't raise a hand because he doesn't want to play flops with Phil Ivey.
I'd prefer to see real poker events like those we actually play in, presented in a format we can learn from. The National Heads-Up Poker Championship is about as far from that ideal as any show on TV. I rank it lower than any recent show other than ESPN's productions, at one and a half-stars.