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Last year American pro Greg Merson outlasted 6,597 players to win over $8.5 million and become the world champion of poker. Now Merson is focusing on high-stakes live cash games and building a legacy as a respected poker professional. Merson was one of the first signs to Ivey Poker and he says it's been cool having the support of the best poker player in the world, Phil Ivey. Merson spoke with PokerListings.com as he defends his title about how, after becoming world champion, he's had to find new goals and new ways to motivate himself as a poker pro.
Yeah. It definitely feels great to be back and trying to somehow defend this title against 6,300 players or whatever it is and it is a lot different this year, where last year I was more of an unknown and this year people seem to be giving me a lot of credit. So its been making my life a little bit easier so far, but a lot of that has to do with table draw and we'll see moving forward. Yeah. The excitement here is just unlike no other. Every year, even if you've won this thing before...If you won it before it's even more exciting since you kinda understand what it takes.
I understand it's gonna be five day...five to 12 hour days from day three to day seven and some days are longer than 12 hours and you need to be really fresh when you're making decisions for that amount of money. There's so much adrenaline right now that sleep is not that much of a priority, but the people that are the most prepared are gonna be the most well suited to succeed.
A lot of these people that come in with the dream of winning it all...obviously anything is possible, but I think it's more realistic to just try to make it through each day and then the rest will take care of itself. So you hear a lot of athletes talk about just taking it one game at a time and stuff and it's kinda cliche, but really that's just the mindset I've always had in this tournament. I've never even thought about ever final tabeling, let alone winning. So just taking it one day at a time and if you make it to the end of that day, you're still in the next day. So that's just one hand at a time, one level at a time and just try not to get too overwhelmed with what's going on around you.
Yeah. It's been great. Being the "ambassador" of poker, but I haven't...I've taken a little different route. I've just been focusing more on the high stakes cash games than playing online. So I haven't been in the spotlight as much, especially over in McCall because you're kinda just another white boy over there. That's kinda the way I like it. I didn't wanna be some huge famous poker player, I just kinda like being one of the guys that's respected and that's really all I care about.
Yeah I mean signing with Ivey Poker is just super exciting, for them to approach me less than a week after I made the final table. I just couldn't believe that was an opportunity I was gonna have and I made a training video yesterday for the first time for the training site and it's all looking good so far. It just released in the media today about us linking up with a California casino to hopefully be licensed to have real money gaming in California. Also, possibly New Jersey moving forward and that's just really exciting stuff.
Yeah I mean its been pretty cool to hang out with Ivey and I don't bother him or hit him up that often just because especially this time in the year when he's playing 40 something events. He just wants to chill when he's not playing poker and hang out with his girl and stuff. So I've only seen him a few times this Summer. We hung out in Australia. We hung out in McCall. Awesome guy, certainly taking care of me in multiple ways that he didn't have to do. So I definitely like...I'm grateful to be in his entourage I guess you could say. Yeah.
My focus moving forward is still just gonna be on the cash games. I might be playing more high roller events, but I still love playing poker as much as I did when I was 16 and played for the first time and if I can just continue to establish some type of legacy to leave behind, that's really...I mean what else do I have to play for, honestly? I have to just keep finding other things to play for since being the world champion or whatever is kinda the end of all things that you can accomplish and I just gotta keep trying to find new things that I wanna work on in my game and then new goals to accomplish in the future.