Greg Merson, a professional poker player from Maryland, emerged as the champion of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event, an event that lasted almost 12 hours. He scooped up the WSOP title as well as a huge cash prize of $8.53 million early today.

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The Main Event was a NL Texas Hold’em tournament, and Merson had to use all his skills before he could beat his opponents. Finally, he had to defeat Jesse Sylvia, the professional poker player from Las Vegas, to emerge as the champion. Speaking about his success, Merson said, “This whole stage is nothing you could ever prepare for.” Merson has now joined the ranks of Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, and Phil Hellmuth, who won WSOP titles before him. He said, “I feel pretty good—got all the tears out so now I feel relaxed.”

This summer, Merson won a WSOP bracelet playing a NL Texas Hold’em Six Handed Poker Tournament.

The runner-up of the Main Event Sylvia collected the second prize of $5.3 million. Sharing his experiences, Sylvia said, “That was nuts, man. I thought whoever was going to heads-up was going to be much deeper than we were.”

The player who finished third was Jake Balsiger (21), who could have become the youngest WSOP champion if he did not have to leave the table in the third position when there were still 11 hours left of the game. A political science major student, who is quite determined to graduate, he got the third prize of $3.8 million. Speaking about his experiences, he said, “I have some homework due tomorrow, my Supreme Court class. I didn’t do it last week because I was in a final table simulation, so my professor’s probably not the happiest with me.”

The player who finished fourth was Russell Thomas, and the player who finished sixth was Andras Koroknai.

In case of poker tournaments, chips do not have any monetary value. Final table players will lose the game if they lose all their chips and win the game if they win all the chips. The Main Event began with a player field of 6,598 players in July. The huge player field was reduced to just 9 players over 7 poker sessions and 11 days.

The final table play started on the night of Monday and continued till only three players were left playing. The trio then continued playing till Merson won the title.

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