Catching Up with Main Event Champ Greg Merson on the East Coast Road Trip

Greg Merson is one of the most prolific poker professionals of his time. In the vast and extremely competitive poker scene, only a select few professionals can claim the title of World Series poker champion. To hold that coveted gold Hazlet to bask in the glory of beating thousands of skilled poker opponents in the world is a distinction that is reserved for only the greatest masters of the game.

The journey to becoming a WSOP champion is a demanding test of skill, mental fortitude, and endurance that requires poker players to navigate treacherous tables, withstand pressure and make life-changing split-second decisions. With every passing year, the ranks of WSOP champions continue to grow but the numbers remain small thus making WSOP champions some of the most esteemed people within the poker community.

To be able to proclaim oneself as a WSOP champion is one of those rare opportunities that allow an individual to join an exclusive fraternity of poker professionals that have achieved greatness. Greg Merson is one of those individuals that has managed to etch their name permanently in the realm of chips and cards.

How many poker novices and professionals alike, capture the coveted main title lifelong dream, and a symbol of mastery over a sea of competitors? Since Greg Merson was declared winner of the 2012 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event, the professional has continued to make strides in his career.

More than 10 years after earning the prestigious Player of the Year Title and bagging a cool $8.5 million, Merson has now settled into a quiet suburban life in New Jersey. Not too long ago, Merson sat down with PokerNews’ Jesse Fullen and Matt Hansen during their East Coast Road Trip to discuss his remarkable story.

Merson’s superb run

Greg Merson’s road to glory in the professional poker scene has been nothing short of inspiring and extraordinary. Merson’s win in the 2012 WSOP main event was unexpected, but it wasn’t his first significant win in 2012. Just days before he was declared the 2012 World Series of Poker main event champion, Merson Message had bested Keith Lehr during the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em 6-Handed event, thus topping $1.1 million to his bankroll.

Back then the 24-year-old poker prodigy continued with his winning streak outlasting a field of 6598 poker players to reach the final table of the 2012 WSOP Main Event. Some of the other talented poker players at the 2012 final table included Michael Esposito Jeremy Ausmus and consequently his heads-up opponent, Jessie Sylvia.

During the final hand of the tournament, Merson four-bet jammed with K♦ 5♦, and Sylvia made the call with Q♠ J♠. This play did not enhance Sylvia’s hand, which allowed Greg’s high to remain superior, therefore earning him the crowning moment during the 2012 Main Event. This move is ultimately what secured Merson his second WSOP bracelet.

Merson’s dominance during the 2012 Main Event Final Table showcased his supremacy as he outshined his opponents and claimed the top spot, walking away with $8,531,853 in prize money. 

Merson’s win in 2012 what’s even more notable due to the personal challenges that the professional poker player had overcome. Months before taking part in the main event and claiming his victory, Merson had decided to turn his life around and become sober. Merson’s poker career was one of the many that took a hit during the infamous Black Friday. However, his vision to get clean and turn around his life is believed to have allowed him to discover his untapped potential.

After claiming the WSOP Main Event title in 2021, Merson continue to exhibit greatness throughout the rest of the decade. Merson remained active on the poker circuit and even went ahead to win some of his remarkable achievements such as finishing as the runner-up during the poker stars Caribbean Adventure $25,000 no-limit holdem High Roller event in 2014.

This win during the no-limit Holden High Roller event allowed Greg to pocket approximately $948,996 in winnings. In 2016, Merson also celebrated another notable success when he finished in 13th place in the same tournament. This time, Merson walked away with $88,020.

In the last couple of years, Merson has returned to his roots as an online grinder, where he takes part in various online poker tournaments. Most recently in 2022 Merson successfully secured a third-place finish in the WSOP online High Roller freeze-out events that had a buy-in of $5300. Due to his third-place finish in the online poker tournament, Merson added $96,465 to his already impressive poker earnings.

So far, Merson’s top 5 cashes since his impressive win in 2012 continue to highlight the poker player’s ongoing success. This year he is expected to take part in some of the biggest WSOP tournaments, as well as an array of high-roller events.

On making a quiet life in New Jersey

Apart from returning to online grinding, Merson leads a quiet life in Hoboken. Even though the poker player is not as actively involved in live poker events as he once used to be he still takes part in a few select tournaments including some that have been organized by WSOP. This year, Merson confirmed that he would be attending the 2023 WSOP much to the delight of his supporters and fans.

For his grind online, Merson utilizes the convenience and flexibility of online poker to continue pursuing his gift and talent. As one of the most established poker players from Maryland end New Jersey, Merson has helped to inspire hundreds of underdog poker players to pursue their dreams.

Final Thoughts

Merson’s inspirational story is one of triumph over adversity. From his momentous wing in the 2012 WSOP main event as well as his other successes in some of the world’s most prestigious tournaments to his inspiring recovery from addiction, Greg has proven himself to be a resilient get talented poker player.

Although he has since settled into a quiet life in Hoboken, Merson’s love for professional poker remains very strong. His fans eagerly anticipate his return to the live poker circuit. As his journey continues to unfold his legacy will undoubtedly continue to endure and become richer as a result.

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