Timeline

Greg Merson Wins 2012 Main Event for $8,531,853

Greg Merson
Greg Merson

Greg Merson was widely-considered to be the best player at the final table of the 2012 WSOP Main Event and he certainly played like it today.

Merson showed an incredible amount of poise surviving over 11 hours of three-handed play with Jesse Sylvia and Jake Balsiger.

It was a roller-coaster affair that saw Merson, Sylvia and Balsiger all take turns as the chip leader. It was also the longest Main Event final table ever held in Las Vegas coming in at 399 hands.

Despite the chips being swapped back and forth it always seemed to be Merson’s tournament to lose as every time he fell behind in chips he would grind his way back to the top.

It seemed the final three players were simply too deep for anyone but Merson to walk out on top.

Merson overcame getting unlucky in a couple spots to finally bust Balsiger in third place with king-queen over queen-ten.

Heads-up took far less time as Merson steam-rolled Sylvia in 17 hands. Merson won the final hand with K 5 over Sylvia’s Q J.

Merson is the new world champion and $8.5 million richer. Amazingly it was his second WSOP bracelet of the summer and he also passed Phil Hellmuth to win WSOP Player of the Year.

Congratulations to Merson for his fantastic performance here at the 2012 WSOP Main Event final table.

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2012 Main Event: Merson Busts Sylvia in 2nd ($5,295,149)

Jesse Sylvia
Runner-up finisher Jesse Sylvia

Three-handed play may have lasted for over 11 hours but it took Merson less than one hour to land the knockout blow against Jesse Sylvia.

In the final hand of the tournament Merson opened for 4 million and Jesse Sylvia raised to 9 million. Merson 4-bet jammed, having Sylvia’s 69 million covered.

That sent Sylvia deep into the tank. Sylvia pondered his options for several minutes but eventually announced a call.

Somewhat surprisingly Sylvia could only offer Q J but Merson was ahead with K 5.

The crowd was whipped into a frenzy as the dealer threw laid out a 9 6 3 flop. The turn came 6 and the tension in the air was palpable with one card left to go.

Finally the river came… 7!

Merson busts Sylvia to win the 2012 WSOP Main Event. The room exploded as Merson’s fans jumped onto the stage to cheer on their hero.

Sylvia picks up $5,295,149 for coming in second place. Stay tuned for a complete recap.

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2012 Main Event: Merson Builds on Lead

Greg Merson
Greg Merson looking strong.

Greg Merson has further cemented his status as chip leader over the first 10 hands of heads-up play.

Although we haven’t seen any enormous pots yet, Merson did just take down a significant pot off Sylvia.

Merson opened for 4 million but Sylvia re-popped it to 9.1 million. Merson thought for a minute, grabbed two massive stacks and pushed them into the middle to raise it up to 18.4 million.

Sylvia couldn’t make the call and threw his hand into the muck. Merson scooped the rather large pot.

Here’s how the chip counts look after the hand:

1. Greg Merson: 130,900,000
2. Jesse Sylvia: 67,300,000

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2012 Main Event: Merson Eliminates Balsiger in 3rd ($3,797,558)

Jake Balsiger
Jake Balsiger finishes third.

After more than 11 hours of play we finally have our first elimination of the day.

Jesse Sylvia opened betting for 4 million from the button and Jake Balsiger immediately moved all-in for about 20 million from the small blind.

Merson didn’t appear to be folding, and after several minutes of thought, he decided to call. Sylvia got out of the way and Merson and Balsiger revealed their hands:

Merson: K Q

Balsiger: Q T

Merson had Balsiger crushed and the young poker player was going to need some serious help from the board to continue in this tournament.

The dealer put out a 6 6 6 flop, which caused the audience to gasp. Despite the beastly look of the flop, Merson was still in the lead. The J peeled off the turn and finally the board finished with the 5.

Despite busting, Balsiger has to be happy with a performance that saw him go from second-to-last in chips to finishing in third place for $3,797,558.

Here are the chip counts going into heads-up play between Merson and Sylvia:

1. Greg Merson: 117,600,000
2. Jesse Sylvia: 80,600,000

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2012 Main Event: Breaking Records

Final table
It just goes on and on and on.

It’s official: the 2012 Main Event has broken the official record as the longest final table in the history of the WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas.

The record was set at 364 hands at the final table in 2009 and we’re now up to over 380 hands. Of course if you include the WSOPE Main Event, that one still has the record with 484 hands played.

We may very well break that number too before this night is over, however.

Over the last 30 minutes we’ve seen Jake Balsiger once again get busy with several all-in shoves but Sylvia and Merson weren’t ready to make the call.

Here’s a look the most recent chip counts:

1. Greg Merson – 92,700,000
2. Jesse Sylvia – 84,900,000
3. Jake Balsiger – 20,600,000

Blinds are now 1,000,000/2,000,000 with a 300,000 ante.

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
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2012 Main Event: Sylvia Strikes Back, Doubles Through Balsiger

Jesse Sylvia
Jesse Sylvia not going anywhere.

It didn’t take long for Jesse Sylvia to retrieve the majority of the chips he lost against Jake Balsiger.

Balsiger limped his button, Greg Merson folded the small blind and Jesse Sylvia checked his big blind.

The flop came K 8 2 and Sylvia checked. Balsiger bet 2.2 million and Sylvia raised to 7.6 million. Balsiger moved all-in and Sylvia called.

Sylvia showed 8 2 for two-pair while Balsiger flipped over K 9 for the flopped pair of kings.

The turn came 2, improving Sylvia to a full house, and then the board finished with a meaningless 3 to give Sylvia the double up.

Balsiger is once again last in chips. Here’s a complete look at the updated chip counts:

1. Greg Merson – 73,600,000
2. Jesse Sylvia – 69,200,000
3. Jake Balsiger – 55,400,000

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Balsiger Steals Chip Lead in Shocker

Jake Balsiger
The new King.

Jake Balsiger, who started the 2012 WSOP Main Event final table second-to-last in chips, is suddenly the chip leader.

Balsiger doubled through Jesse Sylvia in a massive 92 million-chip pot.

Sylvia limped his button but Balsiger bet 4.5 million from the small blind. Greg Merson folded the big blind while Sylvia decided to call.

The pair saw a flop of 9 3 3 and Balsiger thought for a minute or two before betting 4.5 million. Sylvia raised to 11.2 million and Balsiger opted to move all-in for his 41 million-chip stack.

Sylvia called in short order and flipped over K 9 but Balsiger had him crushed with a monster K K.

The turn came J and the river finished with the A to send Sylvia spiriling down to 37 million while Balsiger soared to 92 million.

Here are your new chip counts:

1. Jake Balsiger – 92,300,000
2. Greg Merson – 68,800,000
3. Jesse Sylvia – 37,100,000

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
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2012 Main Event: Sylvia Takes Chip Lead from Merson

Jesse Sylvia
Jesse James Sylvia regulates.

Jesse Sylvia just displayed some creativity in a huge hand against Greg Merson to take the overall chip lead.

Merson opened the betting with a 3.2 million bet from the button. Sylvia re-popped it to 7.5 million from the small blind, which prompted a fold from Jake Balsiger.

Merson wasn’t going anywhere, however, and decided to raise it up to 12.1 million. Sylvia weighed his options but eventually made the call.

The flop came K 9 3 and Sylvia checked. Merson made a rather small bet of 4.6 million and Sylvia called.

The turn came Q and both players checked. The board finished with the K and once again both players checked.

Sylvia showed Q 9 and that was enough to take the 35 million chip pot down and give Sylvia the chip lead.

Here’s a look at the updated chip counts:

1. Jesse Sylvia – 82,350,000
2. Greg Merson – 70,600,000
3. Jake Balsiger – 45,250,000

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
Tables Left
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2012 WSOP: Balsiger Starts Shoving

Final table
The three-handed battle that never ends.

Jake Balsiger finally slipped below 20 big blinds over the last 30 minutes of play and started to take matters into his hands by moving all-in several times.

He hasn’t had any callers yet as Jesse Sylvia and Greg Merson haven’t found anything they want to go to war with.

Thanks to his all-in shoves Balsiger has moved back up to 46 million and should be safer for a little bit longer.

Meanwhile Merson has cooled off and has once again dipped below 100 million.

We’re now up to 339 hands as this marathon final table continues.

Here’s a look at the latest chip counts:

1. Greg Merson – 90,800,000
2. Jesse Sylvia – 60,750,000
3. Jake Balsiger – 46,650,000

Blinds are 800,000/1,600,000 with a 200,000 ante.

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
Tables Left
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2012 Main Event: Greg Merson Wearing Them Down

Greg Merson
Greg Merson

Once again action has slowed at the final table but a patient Greg Merson seems to be getting the best of Jesse Sylvia and Jake Balsiger.

Merson has been winning tons of small pots and it’s starting to add up. Merson is up to 110 million right now while both Balsiger and Sylvia have slipped.

The most significant recent hand saw all three players limp to see a flop of A Q 5, which prompted a check from all three players.

The turn came 6 and Sylvia, who was first to act, fired 2.7 million into the pot. Balsiger folded but Merson came over the top and raised it to 6.8 total.

Sylvia called and the board finished with the 2 on the river. Sylvia checked but Merson fired 14 million into the pot. Sylvia tanked but eventually folded.

We’re now up to over 305 hands, which surpasses last year’s mark of 301 hands total at the 2011 Main Event final table.

Here are the updated chip counts:

1. Greg Merson – 112,000,000
2. Jesse Sylvia – 56,000,000
3. Jake Balsiger – 29,550,000

Blinds are 600,000/1,200,000 with a 200,000 ante

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
Tables Left
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2012 Main Event: Suckouts Continue as Balsiger Doubles Through Sylvia

Jake Balsiger
Balls to the walls!

At this point players might want to consider getting it in bad. Jake Balsiger once again appeared to be on his way out of the tournament but the board rescued him.

Jesse Sylvia started the hand with a standard bet from the button and Balsiger, who was down to 18 million chips thanks to losing a couple prior hands, decided to move all-in from the big blind.

Sylvia thought for a minute but then made the call flipping over A T. He was ahead of Balsiger’s K J and it looked like we might finally have our first elimination today.

Instead the flop came K 5 2 and Balsiger’s supporters went nuts. The K turn sealed the deal and Balsiger doubled up to 35 million. Despite winning the hand, Balsiger is still the shortest stack at the final table.

Here’s a look at the chip counts after the hand:

1. Greg Merson – 106,125,000
2. Jesse Sylvia – 56,450,000
3. Jake Balsiger – 35,400,000

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
Tables Left
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2012 Main Event: Merson on the Grind, Re-takes Lead

Greg Merson
That's refreshing.

Greg Merson, Jake Balsiger and Jesse Sylvia have now been locked in three-handed battle for over seven hours.

After those two massive double ups, play has slowed considerably with Merson, Balsiger and Sylvia apparently not included to play any big pots against each other.

That’s been just fine for Merson, who has been able to grind his way back up to over 80 million chips for the chip lead. Merson has won numerous pots over the last 30 minutes without getting to showdown.

When it comes to the marathon game you’d think the edge has to go to Merson who has played high stakes games for years now but both Sylvia and Balsiger have cash game experience as well.

Here’s a look at the most recent chip counts:

1. Greg Merson – 83,325,000
2. Jesse Sylvia – 76,550,000
3. Jake Balsiger – 38,100,000

Blinds are 600,000/1,200,000 with a 250,000 ante.

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Sylvia Posts Epic Double Through Merson with AK>KK

Jesse Sylvia
That's worth a smile.

Apparently there’s still a little bit of luck with Jesse Sylvia as he just doubled through Greg Merson in a wild hand.

Sylvia opened the betting with a 2 million bet and Merson raised to 4.8 million. Sylvia responded by 4-Betting to 10.2 million.

Merson thought for a minute but then moved all-in, having Sylvia’s 42 million easily covered. Sylvia snap-called and tabled A K but was in a world of hurt against Merson’s K K.

By this point the Sylvia cheering squad was screaming for an ace as the dealer prepared to put the all-important board.

The flop came 5 3 2, which all things considered, wasn’t that bad for Sylvia. The turn changed nothing when it came 8 and Sylvia’s tournament appeared to be coming to an end.

Instead the river finished with the 4, completing Sylvia’s wheel and giving him the massive 85 million chip pot. Sylvia is once again our chip leader thanks to his good fortune.

Here’s an updated look at the chip counts:

1. Jesse Sylvia – 85,500,000
2. Greg Merson – 75,325,000
3. Jake Balsiger – 38,150,000

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
Tables Left
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2012 Main Event: Balsiger Spikes Lucky Double Through Sylvia

Jake Balsiger
Balsiger sticking around.

Jesse Sylvia has had his share of run-good in the 2012 Main Event but Jake Balsiger just nailed a miracle turn card to double through Sylvia.

Balsiger open-shoved for 18.3 million and Greg Merson got out of the way but Sylvia immediately announced a call.

Sylvia flipped over A Q and Balsiger was in trouble with A T.

The J 8 4 flop didn’t change anything. But as luck would have it the turn came T to give Balsiger a pair and the lead.

The river was a meaningless 7 and that secured a double up for Balsiger.

Here are the updated chips counts after the hand:

1. Greg Merson – 116,750,000
2. Jesse Sylvia – 42,425,000
3. Jake Balsiger – 38,800,000

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Merson Pulling Away Balsiger, Sylvia

Final table
Merson is where he wants to be.

It seems that Greg Merson has been inspired by that crazy call he made against Jake Balsiger.

Over the last 30 minutes Merson has been dominating and now has over two-thirds of the chips in play with 123 million.

To make matters worse for Sylvia and Balsiger they’ve been giving Merson numerous walks.

Balsiger is starting to fall into danger territory with 27 million but there is still a lot of play at the final table.

Even Sylvia’s massive cheering crowd has been somewhat silenced by Merson’s strong play over the last half hour.

Here’s a look at the latest chip counts as Merson continues to dominate the table:

1. Greg Merson – 123,950,000
2. Jesse Sylvia – 46,700,000
3. Jake Balsiger – 27,325,000

Blinds are 500,000/1,000,000 with a 150,000 ante

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Merson Pulls Off Massive Bluff Against Balsiger

Greg Merson
Merson the master!

Greg Merson just proved once again why he's considered by many to be the most skilled poker player at the final table.

Merson limped the button and Jesse Sylvia completed from the small blind but Jake Balsiger popped it up to 3.7 million from the big blind.

Merson called but Sylvia had seen enough and folded his hand.

The flop came 9 8 3 and Balsiger bet 4.5 million. Merson simply wouldn’t shake and made the call.

The turn came 4 and Balsiger thought for a minute before firing 7.5 million into the pot. Once again Merson called and the board finished with the 6 on the river.

Balsiger would make one final bet worth 13 million and that sent Merson deep into the tank.

Finally Merson opted to make the call and was immediately validated as Balsiger through his hand into the muck. Merson only had Q J for queen-high but that was enough to win the hand.

Here are the updated chip counts after the hand:

1. Greg Merson – 110,300,000
2. Jesse Sylvia – 45,300,000
3. Jake Balsiger – 42,375,000

Blinds are 500,000/1,000,000 with a 150,000 ante.

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Balsiger Snaps Off Sylvia to Move into 2nd

Jake Balsiger
Balls to the walls!

It still seems surprisingly tentatively at the 2012 Main Event but Jake Balsiger just won a significant pot off Jesse Sylvia.

Balsiger opened the pot for 1.6 million, Greg Merson folded and Jesse Sylvia raised from the big blind to 3.9 million.

Balsiger called and the flop ran out 6 6 4. Sylvia didn’t hesitate to fire another 4.1 million into the pot and Balsiger eventually called.

The turn came 4 and both players checked. The board finished with the Q and Sylvia fired a massive 9.4 million bet.

It seemed to be a tough call for Balsiger, but eventually he counted out the chips and confidently pushed the stack into the middle.

Calling was the right decision as Sylvia turned over J 5 for a missed flush draw while Balsiger ahd A Q.

Here are the updated chip counts after the hand:

1. Greg Merson – 80,900,000
2. Jake Balsiger – 68,375,000
3. Jesse Sylvia – 48,700,000

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Action Slows, Stacks Closer to Even

Final table
The beat goes on.

It’s looking more and more likely that tonight will take the form of a marathon instead of a sprint.

Greg Merson has slowed right down since his fantastic start and currently has less than his starting stack.

Meanwhile Jake Balsiger and Jesse Sylvia have trading chips back and forth with neither player scoring anything truly significant.

Over the last 20 minutes or so we’ve seen a lot of walks and very few flops.

One of the bigger recent hands saw Greg Merson open for 1.6 million, Sylvia then raised it to 2.6 million but Balsiger came barreling over the top for 7 million.

That was enough to chase both opponents and Balsiger picked up a decent little pot.

At this point it seems almost inevitable that we will get to a point where players have almost exactly the same size stacks.

Here’s the latest counts:

1. Greg Merson – 77,700,000
2. Jake Balsiger – 60,475,000
3. Jesse Sylvia – 59,900,00

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Sylvia Passes Balsiger

Jake Balsiger
Back to third place.

Jesse Sylvia is in the zone over the last fifteen hands and just won a 37 million chip pot off Jake Balsiger.

Balsiger opened the pot for 1.6 million and Sylvia called from the big blind to see a flop of 4 4 3.

Sylvia checked but Balsiger fired two million into the pot. Sylvia weighed his options but eventually responded by putting 5.6 million into the pot.

Balsiger called and the dealer peeled the 2 off the deck as the river card. Sylvia fired 10.2 million into the pot and that was enough to chase Balsiger.

Here’s how the chip stacks looked after that last hand:

1. Greg Merson – 78,500,000
2. Jesse Sylvia – 68,600,000
3. Jake Balsiger – 50,875,000

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Sylvia Keeps Pace

Greg Merson
Greg Merson is human too apparently.

Jesse Sylvia had been bleeding chips for the last 20 minutes but just struck back in a big way.

Sylvia opened for 1.6 million and Greg Merson 3-Bet to 5.2 million. Sylvia thought for a minute but then fearlessly fired 10.6 million into the pot.

Merson finally threw his cards into the muck and Sylvia raked in the important 16 million pot.

Since that hand Sylvia has won a couple more pots without showdown and is back up to 53 million.

Merson’s momentum seems to be slowing as all the stacks are starting to even out at the final table.

Here are the latest chip counts:

Jake Balsiger – 60,675,000
Greg Merson – 83,900,000
Jesse Sylvia – 53,400,000

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Sylvia Brings Merson Down a Notch

Jesse Sylvia
Fighting back.

Jesse Sylvia just derailed the Greg Merson freight train in a significant hand.

Merson opened for 1.6 million pre-flop and Sylvia called. The flop came K J 4 and Sylvia immediately led out for 2.2 million.

Merson responded by throwing seven million into the pot. Sylvia spent a couple minutes thinking about his next move but eventually decided to raise to 13 million.

It didn’t take long for Merson to throw his hand into the muck and give Sylvia the pot.

After the hand Merson tumbled back to around his starting stack of 83 million while Sylvia moved up to 60 million. Balsiger is still in third with 53 million.

In other news female poker superstar Jennifer Harman has joined Phil Ivey on the rail cheering for Merson.

Blinds are now 400,000/800,000 with a 100,000 ante.

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Merson Dominates Early, Balsiger Scores Massive Double

Jake Balsiger
Jakey! Jakey! Jakey!

Greg Merson has been on a mission over the first hour of three-handed play.

The Laurel, MD, native has been adding to his chip lead by winning almost every hand he’s in. He’s currently up over 100 million chips and looking downright unstoppable.

Meanwhile Jesse Sylvia and Jake Balsiger have played most of their big hands against other.

Sylvia won a large pot off Balsiger without showdown but shortly after that hand Balsiger managed the big double up

Sylvia opened for just over one million but Balsiger cranked it up to 3.5 million. Sylvia responded by raising to 7.2 million. Balsiger thought for a minute but then moved all-in. Sylvia, having Balsiger covered, opted to make the call with 9 9.

Unfortunately for Sylvia Balsiger showed J J.

The board ran out 5 2 2 T 6 and that was enough to give Balsiger the checkmark and the 57 million pot.

Suddenly Sylvia is the short stack for the first time at the 2012 WSOP Main Event final table.

Updated chip counts:

1. Greg Merson – 103,450,000
2. Jake Balsiger – 57,425,000
3. Jesse Sylvia – 37,100

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Time to Get it Done

Greg Merson
Greg Merson

We’re once again live from the 2012 WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas and by the time we finish tonight we will have a new world champion.

It all comes down to Greg Merson, Jesse Sylvia and Jake Balsiger. One of them will walk away with the $8.5 million and the title of Main Event champion.

Merson will take the chip lead into action today thanks to some outstanding play yesterday that saw him amass 88 million chips.

Former chip leader Sylvia couldn’t keep pace with Merson but still managed to finish with 62 million chips.

Meanwhile the surprising Jake Balsiger, who entered the final table second-to-last in chips, will take 46 million into battle today.

Jack Effel just announced an epic shuffle up and deal so the cards are in the air for the final time at the WSOP this year.

Here’s a look at the chip counts as play begins:

1. Greg Merson – 88,350,000
2. Jesse Sylvia – 62,750,000
3. Jake Balsiger – 46,875,000

Blinds begin at 300,000/600,000 with a 75,000 ante.

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
Tables Left
1

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