Greg Merson, a 24-year-old professional poker player from Maryland took down the World Series of Poker's top crown and a stunning $8.53 million in cash after the longest final table battle ever. The 399-hand final exceeded any other WSOP Championship final table for number of hands dealt. Play lasted nearly 12 hours.
The WSOP begins each July, but once the no-limit Texas Hold'em final event is down to nine players, play is stopped for several months. This year 6,598 players put up $10,000 to play in the championship event. Play resumed Monday with nine players who fought their way down to the final three.
Jake Salsiger, a senior at Arizona State, busted out in third place after getting all-in with queen-ten. He was dominated by Merson's king-queen hand, but happily took his $3.8 million prize money.
After another 17 hands, Merson got Jesse Sylvia to commit all-in with queen-jack suited, but Merson's king high held up when the board scattered a pair of sixes, a nine, seven, and three - but no paint. Sylvia, 26, pocketed $5.3 million for second place.
The WSOP winners' bracelet was Merson's second of the summer, having won the 6-handed Texas hold'em $10,000 buy-in tournament and its accompanying $1.1 million prize in July.
This year's WSOP saw all-time leading bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth win his 12th tournament in the $2,500 buy-in Razz event. At the same time, eight-time bracelet winner Phil Ivey was battling for his ninth bracelet at a pot-limit final table, but failed to win the event.
In August, Ivey played seven hours of Punto Banco at Crockford's London casino and won $11.5 million after first being stuck over a million dollars. Unfortunately for Ivey, Crockford's has yet to transfer his winnings and a legal battle has ensued.
As for all-time WSOP money winners, Antonio Esfandiari shot to the top of the list with career winnings of $19.4 million after winning event number 55 - a $1 million buy-in Texas Hold'em event that attracted 48 players. His payout was a whopping $18.3 million. Wow!