Wednesday October 31, 2012 : MERSON THE VICTOR IN 2012 WORLD SERIES OF POKER MAIN EVENT (Update)
 
24-year-old professional poker player from Maryland is $8.5 million richer today.
 
After twelve hours and a record 398 hands of tough and highly competitive three handed poker Maryland poker pro Greg Merson emerged victorious in the 2012 World Series of Poker main event grand finale early Wednesday morning, besting his last two opponents in Jesse Sylvia and Jake Balsiger.
 
His reward is a prize of $8.53 million and an expensive winner’s bracelet that will earn him the respect of poker players everywhere for years to come.
 
On the previous day, play was halted when the nine-man final table had been whittled down to just the three players, with Merson holding a substantial chip lead on 88,350,000, well ahead of 26-year-old Jesse Sylvia (62,750,000) and young gun – he's just 21 – Jake Balsiger (46,875,000).
 
When play resumed late Tuesday afternoon Merson gave notice that he was going all out to win the event, starting with all guns blazing in an aggressive surge that saw him immediately mop up at least eight consecutive pots. But the game had a long way to go, and Merson was to experience occasions when the chip lead was wrested away from him by his equally determined opponents.
 
Around the 11 hour mark Balsiger's dreams of being among the youngest winners of a WSOP main event were dashed when he was eliminated by Merson, setting up the heads up with Sylvia.  Balsiger's consolation prize was a third placing check for $3,799,073.
 
With Merson holding almost 118 million in chips against Sylvia's 81 million, the heads up action lasted another hour before Merson was able to win a pot worth 139 million to despatch Sylvia with a well-earned runner up prize of $5,295,149.
 
It had been another thrilling climax to a memorable WSOP main event, for which 6,598 players entered this year, competing through 11 days until just nine survived to the final table.
 
It has been a remarkable tournament for Merson, who fought back from a drug problem last year and credits his focus on poker with making that possible. During the main WSOP competition this year he took home $1.1 million and his first bracelet after winning the $10,000 buy-in Six Handed NLHE event.