Maryland's Greg Merson Wins 2012 WSOP Main Event
The poker world has a new World Series of Poker Main Event champion as 24-year-old Greg Merson from Maryland outlasted the final nine players last week to collect just over $8.5 million.
Merson defeated Martha's Vineyard-native Jesse Sylvia in heads-up play to take the title but the real story was the epic marathon the final table became when three players were left.
Merson, Sylvia, and Arizona State student Jacob Balsiger traded blows for over 11 hours to help the 2012 final table set the record for longest ever.
Sylvia and Balsiger were on the brink of elimination several times but fought back each time, with the chip lead handed back and forth among the final three several times.
Merson would gain the momentum finally and overcome some bad beats to first send off Balsiger in third and then get the better of Sylvia in heads-up play.
Merson collected $8.5 million for his victory. Sylvia’s runner-up finish was worth $5.3 million and Balsiger pocketed $3.8 million for third.
It was by far the biggest career payday for all three, although Merson did win over $1 million earlier this summer for his victory in a preliminary tournament leading up to the Main Event.
Uncle Sam Also A Big Winner With Tax Bite
The $10,000 buy-in Main Event serves as the unofficial world championship of poker each year.
The televised coverage on ESPN helped draw a crowd of nearly 7,000 players the last few years -- each dreaming of being in Merson’s shoes and standing atop the field.
The final table of nine players was determined in July with a pause for a few months for poker fans to get to know the finalists before they returned to Vegas in late October to play down to a winner.
Uncle Sam was a big winner as well since each of the final three were all US citizens and will have to pay roughly one-third of their winnings to the US government due to taxes on gambling winnings.
All told the final-table participants will pay a little over $10 million in taxes on their winnings.
The 2012 Main Event final table set several records.
Not only was it the longest Main Event final table in regards to time played -- 19 hours total -- but also the most hands dealt, with nearly 400 hands played before Merson emerged the winner.