2012 WORLD POKER CHAMPION: GREG MERSON
2012 World Series of Poker Presented by Jack Link’s Beef Jerky
Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada
Final Report (End of Day Ten)
No-Limit Hold’em World Championship
Number of Entries: 6,598
Total Net Prize Pool: $62,031,385
Number of Places Paid: 666
First Place Prize: $8,531,853
July 7th through October 31, 2012
It’s official. Greg Merson is the 2012 World Champion.
The 24-year-old professional poker player from Laurel, Maryland celebrated his ultimate moment of triumph at 6 am early on a Wednesday morning, following an all-night marathon playing session that nearly broke the all-time duration record.
Merson’s victory took place at the Penn and Teller Theatre, upon a stage accustomed to acts of magic. But Merson was the poker player with the proverbial magic wand, turning what had started out as a dream into a world championship victory. What began last summer at the Rio Las Vegas, with 6,598 entrants, ranking as the fifth-largest live poker tournament in history, concluded on Halloween morning, October 31st.
Indeed, for Merson this was truly an experience of tricks and treats. He collected a whopping $8,531,853 in prize money for first place. Merson was also presented with the game’s ultimate symbol of achievement – the gold and platinum bracelet encrusted with diamonds, which was custom designed by Jason of Beverly Hills. He also earned the undisputed title as 2012 World Champion.
Merson received an added bonus by virtue of his victory. He officially locked up the 2012 WSOP Player of the Year honor, which is a points-based system that rewards the player who posts the greatest accumulation of results over the course of all 68 gold bracelet events played in calender year 2012. Merson edged out WSOP Europe champion Phil Hellmuth by a small margin.
This was Merson’s second gold bracelet victory this year. He previously won the $10,000 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em Championship, which concluded last July.
Merson’s path to glory was not easy. In fact, he was put to the test as is only fitting for a competition with as much intensity as the WSOP Main Event.
“I’ve played a lot of long cash games in my career, which helps you prepare for something like this, but this whole stage is something you can’t ever really prepare for,” Merson said shortly after winning the tournament and tearfully placing his gold bracelet on the wrist of his mother. “I couldn’t feel better for everyone who I’m sharing this victory with.”
Following a 103-day recess after making the final table, Merson gradually increased his chip count to the point where he had seized the chip lead away from early favorite – friend and rival Jesse Sylvia. By the end of the first of two final table sessions, which concluded late on Monday night, Merson had the chip lead when play was reduced to the final three.
But if Merson or anyone else thought the end was near or victory would be easy, they would be in for a long wait. The final trio of twentysomethings consisting of Merson, Sylvia, and Jake Balsinger became deadlocked in the ultimate test of mental and physical endurance – played out before a worldwide viewing audience following the poker action on ESPN and partner networks.
The three finalists battled all night long, leaving even the most battle-tested observers weary and blurry-eyed. After each of the three traded off the chip lead more than a few times, Merson re-emerged as the dominant force throughout the 12-hour final session. Once Balsiger was eliminated in third place after nearly 250 hands of three-handed play, Merson enjoyed the chip advantage over his final opponent and finally closed out the victory on a hand that came unexpectedly just as the sun was rising over the Las Vegas valley.
Merson ended up winning the World Championship with K-5 offsuit, an unusual hand which somewhat embodied what had been a most unusual closing session to the Main Event. Merson scooped the final pot of the tournament with king-high, besting Sylvia’s queen high (he had Q-J).
With that, Greg Merson became the 2012 World Champion.
Alas one long journey is over. And now, another is about to begin.
Gregory “Greg” Merson (born December 8, 1987) is an American professional poker player. Merson is best known as the winner of the Main Event at the 2012 World Series of Poker (WSOP). During the same year, he also won a WSOP bracelet in the $10,000 Six Handed No-Limit Hold’em World Championship. Largely as a result of these two championships, he was the 2012 WSOP Player of the Year. He is an online shorthanded cash game poker professional.
His first World Series of Poker (WSOP) in the money finish was at the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event where he finished 639th in a field of 6,494 for a $21,365 payday. He earned his first bracelet at the 2012 474-player $10,000 six-handed Texas hold’em World Championship. The win set a record for the shortest day of poker in the history of the WSOP, when it was extended to a fourth day and he won on the second hand of the day, according to ESPN. Other sources report that he won on the first hand of Day 4. On Day 3 of the event he started in 12th place out of 27 contestants.
At the 2012 WSOP, Merson finished in the money in three shorthanded (four- and six-handed) No Limit Hold ’em events prior to the main event. In addition to his bracelet, he finished 5th in the 750-person $2,500 four-handed event for a prize of $70,280 and 21st in the 924-person $3,000 six-handed event for a prize of $16,850.
When the blinds were 10,000/20,000/3,000 earlier in the 2012 Main Event, Merson was down to 50,000 chips, meaning he nearly had to settle for a $52,718 payday and an approximate 150th place finish. On Day 7, he began in 12th place of 27 remaining entrants, but was the chip leader when the field was narrowed to 12 players. He finished the day third in chips out of nine. As a result, he was the leader in the 2012 WSOP Player of the Year race following the main Las Vegas set of events. However, following the 2012 World Series of Poker Europe, he trailed a few players such as Antonio Esfandiari and leader Phil Hellmuth, but remained the only player with a chance to overtake Hellmuth. As of the early morning of October 30, Merson became one of three to go to the final day of the WSOP 2012 Main Event, alongside Jesse Sylvia and Jacob Balsiger. Merson held a large chip lead heading into the final day, with over 46 percent of chips in play among the final three. Merson prevailed as the WSOP 2012 Main Event champion, defeating Jesse Sylvia in a heads-up battle. With this victory, Greg Merson ended up winning the 2012 WSOP Player of the Year