Professional poker player Greg Merson, who entered the World Series of Poker (WSOP) 2012 Main Event as the chip leader, came out of it as its champion.

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At the end of the final table play, which lasted nearly 12 hours, Merson emerged victorious over his heads up opponent Jesse Sylvia. His King of Diamonds and Five of Diamonds won over Sylvia’s Queen of Spades and Jack of Spades. After the tournament, Sylvia said, “That was nuts, man. I thought whoever was going to heads-up was going to be much deeper than we were.”

Merson was very thrilled about his win and said, “I feel pretty good – got all the tears out, so now I feel relaxed.That’s what I’m looking forward to doing the most — getting in the biggest cash games in the world. And not losing all my money,” he said.

“You can’t let fatigue get in the way. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’ve pushed myself through tons of hours of poker in the past, and you just have to get through it somehow. I’m never going to have an opportunity like this again,” he added.

Merson will be sharing his winnings with his family. “I’ve played a lot of long cash games in my career, which helps you prepare for something like this, but this whole stage is something you can’t ever really prepare for. I couldn’t feel better for everyone who I’m sharing this victory with,” he said.

According to his father, He always had a lot of faith in himself. I never saw him lose that…So this was definitely a ‘prove them wrong’ kind of experience.”

At the event, the last man standing as well as the runner up of the main event was trained by prominent professional poker pros Vanessa Selbst and Phil Ivey.

When the final table play reached the three-handed stage, Sylvia and Merson had to play for nearly 11 hours against Jake Balsiger (21), an amateur poker player, making it the longest Main Event in the history of WSOP. More than 200 hands were dealt in this period of time. Ultimately, Jake Balsiger finished in the third position, and Sylvia and Merson, both of who had good-sized chip stacks, were left fighting for the championship title, the bracelet, and the first prize of $8.5 million. If Jake Balsiger had won, he would have been the youngest poker player to become the champion.

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