Greg Merson Wins Record-Breaking 2012 Main Event for $8.5m

Greg Merson
Greg Merson

Greg Merson won the 2012 WSOP Main Event in spectacular fashion early Wednesday morning, taking down $8.5 million and the Player of the Year title.

The final table ended up being the longest in Main Event history in Las Vegas lasting an astounding 399 hands.

Starting at 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday it was nearly 6 a.m. Wednesday morning when Merson finally won poker’s ultimate prize. Much of it was due to Merson, Jesse Sylvia and Jake Balsiger playing for over 11 hours three-handed.

“You can’t let fatigue get in the way,” explained Merson. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I had to just keep grinding it out. You can’t give up.”

Maryland Native Respected, Recovered

Sylvia, Merson and Balsiger all spent time as the chip leader during the 11-hour three-handed playdown but it was eventually Merson who busted Balsiger in third place to start heads-up play.

Jesse Sylvia
Runner-up Jesse Sylvia
 

The 24-year-old Merson, who hails from Laurel, Maryland, is a very well-respected player in the online poker community and his level of experience certainly paid off at the final table.

It was also well-publicised during the lead up to the final table that Merson suffered from drug addiction in the past.

He said it was part of the reason he was so emotional after winning the Main Event.

"I could possibly not even be alive right now and that's no exaggeration," said a thankful Merson. "We live such a fast-paced lifestyle it's so easy to get caught up in the wrong stuff."

Sylvia Runner-Up, Balsiger Busts in Third

Balsiger, who entered the final table second-to-last in chips, showed an amazing amount of resiliency at the final table and received $3.7 million for coming in third place.

Even Balsiger admitted he didn't expect to place higher than fifth, so finishing third was a remarkable achievement.

It was even more impressive considering Balsiger is a full-time student at ASU and does not consider himself a professional poker player.

Meanwhile Sylvia, who had some of the best fan support in the history of the Main Event final table, finished in second place for $5.2 million.

Greg Merson
Greg Merson, Main Event champ.
 

Merson Triumphs with K-5

In the final hand of the tournament Merson 4-bet shoved all-in and Sylvia called for his tournament life with Q J.

Merson ended up being weak, but not weak enough as he had K 5. The board bricked and the 2012 Main Event, which began back in July, was over.

Sylvia entered the final table as the chip leader but there’s a good chance he wasn’t too disappointed with the second-place finish as his biggest previous cash in a poker tournament was $33k.

With his victory Merson also passed Phil Hellmuth to become the 2012 WSOP Player of the Year.

It was also Merson’s second bracelet of the year as he won the $10k Six-Handed Event earlier this summer for $1.1 million.

For a full recap of the Main Event action, check our live updates.

assets/photos/authors/_resampled/croppedimage6060-arthur-crowson.jpg
About Arthur Crowson

Arthur has been involved exclusively with the poker industry since the 2006 World Series of Poker where he still claims to have captured the first interview with a then-unknown player named Jamie Gold on one of the days leading up to the Main Event final table. Since then Arthur has been working full-time for PokerListings.com writing news stories, covering poker tournaments, interviewing players and capturing it all with his trusty Canon camera.

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nice 2013-01-15 22:36:31

this is nice!

Monty lady 2012-11-05 11:25:52

I missed the broadcast of the final night. I forgot to set to DVR. Very tired after dialysis. But I will catch it when pops up on the demand channel. I did have the final three correct in my mind though. Congrats to all of the players that made the final table. Congrats! Congrats! Congrats! to the top three: Merson, Sylvia and Balsiger.

james 2012-11-01 09:59:00

good play but terrible television

JimmyThunder 2012-10-31 21:04:15

The author of the article and Sylvia himself obviously have no idea about heads up play. A suited King is NOT a weak hand heads up! Similarly QJs is a good hand on a full table but in heads up play a single high card is much better as most often neither player hit a pair. It was a terrible all in call ! If Sylvia hasn't sucked out twice he wudnt have made it that far anyway

bambam 2012-10-31 11:34:44

silvia blew it headsup he was so passive to get that far and shut down is so stupid enjoy being nobody again

roy jones jr jr 2012-10-31 11:33:40

lol hellmutt

Hank 2012-10-31 11:33:19

Congrats to Mr. Merson. Two bracelets including Main Event in one year is truly incredible.

Better luck next year, Phil.

Brian G. 2012-10-31 11:32:31

GG Merson. Well played all around but Merson was by far the best player at the table. Not a bad side effect he gets to keep Hellmuth from POY. Enjoy the money kid.