Greg Merson, the online poker specialist from Laurel, Maryland, emerged from a marathon final table to claim the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event Championship and the $8.5 million prize money that goes with it.
Around 5:45am on the final day of play, after 399 hands, Merson stood on the floor of the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino surrounded by family and friends with the most coveted title in the poker world.
Jesse Sylvia, the chip leader going into the final table, finished as runner-up. He pocketed $5.3 million for his efforts. Jake Balsiger rounded off the top 3, taking home $3.8 million.
Here are the final standings:
The first day of play at the final table reduced the field to 3 players. Merson entered the second day as chip leader with 88 million, mostly thanks to Andras Koronkai, who shoved a big stack with K-Q into Merson’s A-K. Sylvia was second with almost 63 million, and Balsiger had 48 million. The three guys staged a 247-hand poker classic, with rollercoaster type swings and turns where the short stacked often doubled up to stay in contention.
Greg Merson and Jake Balsiger, Jake took 3rd this year.
Just when the crowd thought play might continue until Thanksgiving, Balsiger raised all-in from the small blind with Q-10 and Merson called with his dominating K-Q. This time community cards offered no support for the guy who was behind, and Balsinger had to finish as 3rdbest.
As much as the final table was a marathon until that point, heads-up play was over in a quick dash. Just 17 hands into the one-on-one battle Merson shoved all-in with K-5 suited diamonds and Sylvia, somewhat surprisingly, called with Q-J suited spades. A rag rainbow flop offered no help to Sylvia and King-high held to seal this year’s event.
Greg Merson and Jessie Sylvia, Jessie finished in 2nd.
To say that 2012 has been a good year for Greg Merson would be a huge understatement. This was his second bracelet at this year’s WSOP, where he also won $1.1 million in a $10,000 buy-in six-handed event in June. The latest win also got him just enough points to nick Phil Helmuth for the WSOP Player of the Year award. Overall, he’ll bring home more than $10 million this year from official events. It is safe to say he has made a successful transition from online poker.
This is a movie-like turn of events for a guy who as recently as last year suffered from heroin and cocaine abuse. By his own admission, Greg is lucky to still be alive today. As you know if you watched any of the televised events, much was made of his history of addiction and the lengths he has traveled. He has been clean since last December and has discarded talk that his new-found success and riches might push him back into a relapse. To say that he is doing the best he can with the time he has been given would be a big understatement, and we at Color Up wish him the best with his new-found champ status.