Gerg Merson: 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion
Heading into the 2012 Main Event at the World Series of Poker; it was clear that Greg Merson was a player who was very much in form. He had already cashed in two short-handed WSOP events. He then crowned that with what was up till then the greatest moment in his career. Merson won the $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Six Handed event.
Suddenly Greg Merson had his first ever million-dollar pay out. Little did he know that this would soon be the second biggest win of his career.
WSOP Qualifiers: You can win a package to the Main Event that includes the $10k buy-in plus hotel and travel expenses online. For international readers, GGPoker are running satellites every day with low buy-ins at the entry level. See www.ggpoker.com for the list!
If you are US based, America’s Cardroom are an easy top rec. Qualifiers are running now - and to top it, ACR has the biggest tournament schedule for US players too. See www.americascardroom.com for details.
A Fighting WSOP Main Event 2012
Some players have it easy in the Main Event, building a large stack and taking it all the way to the final table. Greg Merson didn’t. At one point, he was down to 50,000 chips when the blinds were 10,000/20,000 and on the verge of exiting the tournament in around 150th place.
Heading into day seven with three tables remaining, he was in 12th and fighting for that coveted final table place. A good run at this point saw Merson’s stack rise to twenty-eight million chips. He found himself in third place heading into the final table.
At this point Merson would have been confident. He was one of only two bracelet winners at that final table (Steven Gee was the other). The end of the tournament was a battle of attrition. This was the longest final table in the history of the World Series of Poker. Merson would take a large chip lead heading into the final three and would eventually find himself up against US compatriot Jesse Sylvia heads up.
Final Hand and POY Award
The final hand saw Merson move all in with King-Five suited (diamonds) and Sylvia had Jack-Queen suited (spades). Neither of the two players managed to connect with the flop, but a spade on the turn gave Sylvia 9 outs to the flush, as well as the chance to connect with a queen or a jack. The river was the seven of clubs and Merson had prevailed. With this win, Merson became the first player since Chris Ferguson in 2000 to win the main event after earlier claiming a bracelet.
Greg Merson was named the 2012 WSOP Player of the Year.
Greg Merson: Other Major Tournament Victories
Aside from his successes at the WSOP in 2012, Greg Merson has enjoyed two other six figure wins in his career. At the European Poker Tour in January 2014, he pocketed $948,000 for a second-place finish in the No Limit Hold’em 8 Max event. The following year he finished 4th in the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em in the World Series of Poker, winning more than $150,000.
Playing Style and Poker Strategy of Greg Merson
Greg Merson honed his skills playing short-handed cash games online, which set him up nicely for the successes at the 2012 WSOP.
He would use all of those skills in the main, having to double up consistently to battle back into contention after his near exit. There was no doubt that Merson had the motivation and determination to battle back and go all the way. Deep stacked cash games teach the value of hand reading. When it came to the end of the final table, the ability to put opponents on ranges – and narrow them based on betting, turned out to be invaluable.
Before and After the WSOP
It certainly wasn’t all plain sailing in the poker career of Greg Merson. He attended the University of Maryland - but dropped out after two and a half semesters to pursue a career in poker. While this initially failed and he went back to college, he would eventually become a six-handed specialist.
However, it wasn’t just the poker tables he was battling at. At the age of 17, Merson became addicted to drugs, using both Cocaine and Marijuana. At one point in his freshman year at college, he would drop thirty pounds in weight. In 2007 he checked into rehab to get his life back on track. He was clean for three and a half years, but then started using drugs again. Eventually he would become sober for good in December 2011, just 6 months before the life changing World Series of Poker of 2012 began.
Today Greg Merson still plies his poker trade but is yet to repeat the successes of 2012. As of 2021, Merson’s total career winnings stand at more than $11 million, has enjoyed forty-two career cashes and has won four tournaments.
Could You be the Next WSOP Champion?
Greg Merson had a breakout year in 2012 and the joy of poker is that his could happen to anyone. Anyone can qualify for the WSOP main event, with many satellite events running online (some for just a few dollars entry fee).
If you are successful at the satellites, you could find yourself sitting amongst the poker elite at Las Vegas. Play with the right combination of skill and luck and you could emulate Merson.
For international players – GGPoker has the best satellites (it's not even close).
If you are US-based then America’s Cardroom have a series of qualifiers every year, with 20 packages up for grabs - which can see you win a buy-in to the main event, plus hotel and travel expenses.
When you find out that Greg Merson came back from 2.5x the blind to win the event, you know anything is possible – and that includes a win for you!
More WSOP Winners and Guides:
- WSOP Main Page: All the Qualifiers and News
- GGPoker Review (the best place for non-US readers to qualify)
- John Cynn Poker Strategy (2018 winner)
- Joe McKeehan Poker Strategy (2015 winner!)
- Scott Blumstein 2017 WSOP Winner
- Stu Ungar (legend!)
Image credit Wikipedia (plus a little help from Canva)