Greg Merson has survived several bad beats and over eleven hours of three-handed play to win the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event.
The American pro is the first player to win a preliminary bracelet and the Main Event since Chris Ferguson in 2000 and unseats Phil Hellmuth to win the 2012 World Series of Poker Player of the Year Award.
Merson proved his mental toughness by coming back from one of the worst beats in the entire tournament after it appeared like he had the tournament as good as won.
The twenty-four-year-old called an all-in bet from Jesse Sylvia and had Sylvia’s Ace-King dominated by his pocket kings.
Sylvia needed an Ace to keep his World Series dream alive but improved his chances by flopping a wheel draw.
He received no help on the turn but couldn’t believe his luck when he hit a four on the river to make his straight.
It was another several hours before the final three finally became a final two.
Young gun Jake Balsiger finally ran out of luck when his shove with Queen-Ten was called by Merson with King-Queen.
Three sixes on the flop gave Balsiger a chance at a chop but, for once, the best hand held up.
After the eleven hour three-handed battle the heads-up duel between Sylvia and Merson was a bit anti-climactic.
Merson grinded down Sylvia and really applied the pressure by moving all-in after a Sylvia three-bet.
Sylvia called but was disappointed to see his Queen-Jack was behind Merson’s King-Five.
Sylvia received no help on the board and Merson finally secured the bracelet, title of World Champion and $8,531,853 first place prizemoney.
Merson admitted in a post-tournament interview that he was filled with relief when the final card hit and he had finally wrapped up the title.
“I felt a lot of relief. I knew going into the heads-up match that I was going to try and apply as much pressure as possible from the beginning and if I got a two to one chip lead I was going to take a shot at winning the tournament,” Merson said.
It was a magnificent comeback for Merson who under a year ago was battling a serious drug addiction.
“I knew I was going to turn everything around and be fine but I couldn’t imagine having a ridiculous year like this,” he said.
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