Professional poker player Greg Merson has emerged as the winner of Card Player’s 2012 Player of the Year (POY) race. Merson has beaten an impressive number of 7,072 players to win two big poker titles, a total of $9,664,179 in live poker tournament winnings, and 5,100 POY Points.

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Merson, a 24-year-old poker player from Maryland, began the tournament year by winning cash prizes in two short-handed WSOP events. He first finished in the 21st place in the $3k NL Hold’em 6-Max event and won $16,850 and then finished in the fifth position in the $2.5k 4-Max NL Hold’em event, winning $70,280.

However, Merson began earning POY Points only when he beat a field of 474 formidable poker opponents in the WSOP $10k NL Hold’em 6-Max Championship, defeated a final table featuring talented poker players such as Andrew Lichtenberger, Shannon Shorr, and Keith Lehr, and won a cash prize of $1,136,197. His achievement placed him the 27th position on the POY leader board with 1800 POY Points.

A few days later, he began playing the WSOP $10k NL Hold’em Main Event, the largest live poker tournament of 2012, and reached the final table as the player with the third largest stack of chips. In October, he beat back his final table opponents, won the second WSOP bracelet of his poker career, and collected a cash prize of $8,527,982. He also earned 3,300 POY Points, the largest number of POY Points ever awarded to any player in one poker event. His WSOP Main Event success also placed him among the top ten players on the POY leader board.

Merson said, “You know, I didn’t get much attention when I was playing online, so it was hard to justify my decision to play poker for a living to my friends and relatives. Now, they’ll get to see me on television, winning absurd amounts of money. This is validation to myself, showing all of those people who said I wouldn’t make it that they were wrong.”

The year 2012 has been one of the best for Merson, who not only overcame his addiction to drugs, but also earned over $9.6 million and bagged two prestigious poker titles—the 2012 Card Player Player of the Year title and the WSOP Main Event championship title.

In 2012, Merson won a total of 5,100 POY Points, 2 poker titles, reached 2 final tables, and earned a total of $9,664,179 playing live poker tournaments.

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