Posts Tagged ‘WSOP 2012’

November 2, 2012

WSOP Champ Embarks on New Poker Journey with $8.5M Win

Merson says he knows the gamble, dead ends of fast poker living

Greg Merson cried.

He stood at the poker table at center stage of the Rio’s Penn & Teller Theater, behind stacks of bundled $100 bills that simulated his first-place prize of more than $8.53 million, and let the tears flow.

At age 24, Merson, a professional poker player from Laurel, Md., was at the top of the poker world early Wednesday. He captured the Main Event of the 2012 World Series of Poker, topping a field of 6,598 players.

The final table of nine was a strenuous three-day stretch of poker that began Monday afternoon and included almost 11 straight hours of three-handed, back-and-forth, high-stakes, no-limit hold’em competition from 6 p.m. Tuesday to nearly 5 a.m. Wednesday.

Merson was supported by several hundred family members and friends, including poker standouts Phil Ivey and Jennifer Harmon, as well as text messages and tweets from his close friend, Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps. Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones also expressed his support for Merson via Twitter. Merson wore Jones’ orange-and-black replica jerseys during the poker competition.

More…


October 31, 2012

Instapoker

Greg Merson wins WSOP Main Event

Greg Merson wins the 2012 WSOP Main Event
Photo: WSOP.com

Greg Merson from Laurel, MD became the lastest WSOP Main Event Champion after a marathon poker session in the Penn & Teller Theater. The popular east coast grinder began 3-handed play with the chiplead, endured a few beats along the way, but eventually knocked out Jesse Sylvia to earn the title after 13 hours at the table. It was an exhausting evening for all involved but Merson and his supporters were not thinking about it as the final hand played out in the early morning.

WSOP staff changed the November Nine final day format from heads up to 3-handed play a few years ago to insure a decent amount of play on ESPN. Both were probably unprepared for an affair which started in primetime on the east coast but lasted until most other cable channels were well into infomercial time. The chiplead swapped several times throughout, bad beats happened, fortunes change. There were enthusiastic supporters (including his parents) and sleeping observers and class in the end when Merson held back his crowd until he could shake Sylvia’s hand.

Merson is the first player since Chris Ferguson in 2000 to win the WSOP Main Event after winning a bracelet earlier in the same year. He won the $10,000 NLH 6-Handed tournament just a few days before the Main Event kicked off and stayed hot through the Main. Merson picked up $8,531,853 and a pretty sweet bracelet for his efforts. This result also pushed him ahead of WSOP Europe champion Phil Hellmuth to top the 2012 WSOP Player of the Year leaderboard. Not too shabby.

1st Greg Merson – $8,531,853
2nd Jesse Sylvia – $5,295,149
3rd Jake Balsiger – $3,799,073
4th Russell Thomas – $2,851,537
5th Jeremy Ausmus – $2,155,313
6th Andras Koroknai – $1,640,902
7th Michael Esposito – $1,258,040
8th Robert Salaburu – $971,360
9th Steven Gee – $754,798

Link Dump

Tweet(s) of the Day – There were plenty of Tweets hitting the internet following the crazy long match from congrats to snark.

A Clean Getaway – Lance Bradley wrote this piece about Merson this summer about his recovery from substance abuse and his plans for the future.

Passion for poker ‘saved my life,’ Greg Merson says – Merson’s story is also being told by the mainstream media, this time by his hometown Baltimore Sun this weekend.

Greg Merson: Epic Comeback Spurs World Series of Poker Victory – Even popular, high traffic sports blogs picked up on the story. Most of them because it blasted through ESPN’s scheduled programming but this is a decent article by Bleacher Report.

WSOP 2012: Main Event Champion Greg Merson – Even though ESPN didn’t bother having a decent interview by Kara Scott, PokerNews was able to grab an interview by Kristy Arnett

Posted by at 10:00 am

October 30, 2012

Numbers Game

Quantifying the spectacle of the WSOP Main Event Final Table

A view from the cheap seats in the Penn & Teller Theater.

The last 9 players waited 103 days for the start of the 2012 WSOP Main Event Final Table and a chance at the $8.5 million top prize. Those are some figures you might be familiar with, but one amazing stat was that in the course of losing 6 players, we saw 7 all-in hands, and in all but one case the best hand held up. That’s just crazy. The best hand isn’t supposed to win the majority of the time in televised poker, is it?

Here’s a few other numbers that stood out during the festivities this week at the Penn & Teller Theater.

0: Number of offers Phil Hellmuth got to coach an October 9er.

1: Number of photo booths where you can have your picture made at a poker table with a pile of “cash” and chips, as if you won the Big One.

1: Number of T-shirt cannons firing black WSOP T-shirts into the crowd during breaks.

2: Number of ring girls operating T-shirt cannon and tossing Caesars mardi gras beads.

2: Number of Giant TVs on either side of the stage, to show the crowd what’s happening on the felt.

2: Number of screens showing info on players and tournament data to the crowd — such as flop, chip stacks, blinds, antes, pot size and the hand number.

2: Number of players to show up without any patches. (Andras Koroknai and Michael Esposito.)

2 and 2: Number of chairs and masseuses at the lone booth in the Penn and Teller lobby.

3: Number of players who wore sunglasses. Salaburu sported orange, plastic Oakleys, while Thomas and Merson wore wire-rimmed aviators.

A collection of WSOP hoodies, hats and other merch for sale with the Final Table underway.

3: Number of hoodie choices available at the lone merch booth.

4: Beer options available in the Penn & Teller theater. (Corona, Heineken, Miller Lite, Coors Light.)

3/2: Approximate ratio of ounces-to-dollars for these beers, which cost $7, or $8 for “imports”

5: Number of players who got some sort of coaching at the Final Table. (Russell Thomas talked with Jason Somerville, Greg Merson chatted with Phil Ivey, Jeremy Ausmus whispered with Joe Tehan, and Jesse Sylvia got repeated pointers from Vanessa Selbst; Jake Balsiger supposedly hired Mike “Timex” McDonald.)

5: Number of tournaments being played at the Rio today, not including the WSOP main event.

6: Number of dealers in rotation at the Final Table.

7: Approximate number of minutes Phil Ivey stuck around on Day 1 to sweat his teammate/pupil Merson.

10: Number on the Adam Jones Baltimore Orioles Jersey worn by Merson, a Maryland native.

11, 2, and 1: Number of ESPN cameras spotted, those mounted on cranes, and those “floating” in the crowd.

12: Maximum square inches a sponsorship logo can be according to WSOP rules.

More than 12: Inches of black tape used to cover parts of Andras Koroknai’s “L.A. Cocaine Business” T-shirt.

13: Number of different sponsorial patches (est.) seen at the final table.

15: Number of people in line for the Sportsbook Deli at the Rio during a WSOP TV break.

22: Number of seconds before opting instead for a bag of pretzels from the gift shop.

28: Cost in dollars of a One Drop water bottle (complete with filter) available for sale at the Rio.

1/100: Odds one of your fans on the rail might rhythmically shimmie with a Fathead version of Jake Balsiger’s face for at least 10 minutes straight, with no music playing.

105: Number of spotlights I counted before my burning retinas could no longer distinguish bright blue beams from red and yellow flashes all around me.

1,111: Cost in dollars of a single bullet in the recently announced Little One for One Drop unlimited rebuys bracelet tourney.

1,200: Day 1 crowd estimate from WSOP spokesman Seth Palansky, seeing a mostly full Penn & Teller Theater with an uppermost level that was practically empty.

Posted by at 7:56 pm

October 29, 2012

The WSOP Final Nine – Player Profiles

8 Americans + 1 Hungarian or 2 middle agers vs. 7 youngsters

Jesse Sylvia
Age 24
Las Vegas

43.875 million in chips

Sylvia was down his last 4 million chips on Day 7 when he rallied back into contention. By the time the field was cut from 27 to the final nine, Sylvia, who is originally from Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., jumped into the chip lead. Sylvia will be seated five seats away at the final table from his closest friend and one-time roommate Russell Thomas. The pair sharpened each other’s poker skills. A victory might propel Sylvia in another career; he aspires to move to Los Angeles and get involved in movie making.

Quote: “I always want to be involved in the game. But I am not sure I want to be grinding it out every day 10 years from now. I told myself I will play in the World Series of Poker every year that I can, because it’s so different.”

Andras Koroknai
Age 30
Debrecen, Hungary

29.375 million in chips

Koroknai is the non-American at the final table, and hopes to be the first Hungarian to win the Main Event. He has nearly $2 million in career poker earnings, including a World Poker Tour title in 2010. Koroknai’s road to the final table almost ended early in the tournament when he mistakenly mucked his hand. A ruling from the floor cost him 60,000 in chips but he was able to continue. Koroknai eliminated both the 10th and 11th place finishers, who also happened to be the tournament’s last women.

Quote: “When I sit down at the table, I don’t care if it’s a male or female player. Everybody is equal and everybody wants to win.”

Greg Merson
Age 24
Laurel, Md.

28.275 million in chips

Merson will be playing for more than just the Main Event’s gold bracelet and $8.5 million payday. A victory will also ensure Merson of the 2012 World Series of Poker Player of the Year crown. Merson cashed in four events at this year’s tournament, earning his first gold bracelet when he won the $10,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em/Six Handed event. He collected $1.1 million for the win and affirmed that his life was back on track. Merson said he struggled with addiction over the past few years but is now clean and sober.

Quote: “I thought I had my s**t together. I let the poker lifestyle get the best of me. I worked really hard to get all the way back to the highest games again. I definitely have a way more positive mindset about everything.”

Russell Thomas
Age 24
Hartford, Conn.

24.8 million in chips

Thomas began playing poker while attending Temple University. After earning a degree in actuary science, he went to work as an actuary at Aetna Insurance, a job he is now on leave from until the Main Event concludes. Poker may soon become his full time profession. Prior to the Main Event, Thomas had earned $126,796 at the World Series of Poker, finishing as high as fifth in a six-handed no-limit hold’em event in 2010.

Quote: “To be an actuary, you have to pass a bunch of exams. One of them was called probability. I have studied probability pretty intensively. The math helps, but it doesn’t correlate as much as people think. Playing poker makes you better at poker.”

Steven Gee
Age 57
Sacramento, Calif.

16.86 million in chips

Gee is the only member of the final table who won an individual event championship bracelet before this year. In 2010, Gee won a $1,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em event to earn $472,479, topping a field of more than 3,000 players. Before the 2012 Main Event, Gee had cashed in three other World Series of Poker events, finishing no higher than 201st. Gee left his job as a manager of software projects for the California Public Employees Retirement System a few years ago to play poker full time.

Quote: “Every single day (during the Main Event), I never thought I’d make it to the next day. This summer, I don’t think I played as well as I did in the past. But I just got more lucky breaks.”

Michael Esposito
Age 44
Seaford, N.Y.

16.26 million in chips

Esposito calls himself “a true amateur,” someone who only plays poker a few times a year. He’s cashed twice at the World Series of Poker, in 2006 and 2009, earning $24,934. His best finish was 540th place at the Main Event in 2006. A New York-based commodity broker, Esposito competes in triathlons. He said discipline is a character trait that helps him compete in both triathlons and poker.

Quote: “The money is more important than the bracelet. I’m hoping this (winning the Main Event) can get me in the Ironman World Championship (triathlon).”

Robert Salaburu
Age 27
San Antonio

15.155 million in chips

Salaburu has playing professionally since graduating high school, although the 2012 Main Event will be his first cash at the World Series of Poker. Salaburu found early success in online poker and cash game on the Southern poker circuit. Before this year, Salaburu would attend the World Series of Poker, but limited events, favoring the cash game tables. Salaburu sought advice from British poker player Stephen Chidwick, who was on hand to rail Salaburu during the late stages of the Main Event.

Quote: “I have never been good at reporting to people and taking orders from people, so I had to figure out something in a hurry. I guess I just kind of stuck with what I knew.”

Jacob Balsiger
Age 21
Tempe, Ariz.

13.115 million in chips

A victory by Balsiger means he would eclipse 2009 champion Joe Cada as the youngest Main Event champion in World Series of Poker history. Balsiger is a senior majoring in political science at Arizona State University and used to play online poker to supplement his income. He cashed in a $1,500 buy-in no limit hold’em event early at the World Series, finishing 100th and earning $3,531.

Quote: “To be honest, I entered the Main Event expecting to hopefully get some kind of cash. I end up at the final table. Unbelievable.”

Jeremy Ausmus
Age 33
Las Vegas

9.805 million in chips

One issue that Ausmus had lingering before the final table was resolved earlier this month was exactly when his wife would give birth to their second child. Now, Ausmus, who has 13 World Series of Poker career cashes can concentrate in winning his first gold bracelet. Eight of his career cashes came the summer. Ausmus has eight years of experience at the poker tables and holds a bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University.

Quote: “I’m pretty much a full-time player. I’ll probably go to the Bellagio four times a week and play cash games. I have a good balance. My wife gives me a life away from poker and my daughter, too. It’s good to have that break.”

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.
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Copyright 2012 Stephens Media Interactive GamingWire.
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May 13, 2012

Panning for Bracelets

On the Strip in search of WSOP seat giveaways

The temporary poker room at IP during construction of the Linq project is currently enjoying Quad-a-Palooza.

In the weeks leading up to the World Series of Poker, grinders all over Vegas start making big plans. Even small-stakes guys like me and my friends want a piece of the action. But with the major online sites shuttered for US players, we must hunt for a way to qualify for a bracelet event.

WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart told reporters that Caesars properties would increase satellites leading up to the series.

Caesars Palace just launched its WSOP Warm-Up, running through May 20, with tournaments as low as $130 that have $20,000 guaranteed prize pools and $1,000 WSOP seats.

My friends and I decided to skip those tournaments for now — thinking we’d hit a few of the smaller Caesars properties to increase our chances of scoring a seat. These rooms wouldn’t be as packed with local grinders, we figured, and the games would be less volatile.

With the construction of the Caesars’ Linq project underway, the Imperial Palace poker room moved from the front of the casino, by which all the tourists would stumble, to a rather inconvenient spot up on the third floor.

“I don’t get it. They had such a great location,” said one of my poker buddies — an out-of-towner who takes most of his vacations to Vegas.

More…

Posted by at 2:24 am

May 8, 2012

A Bigger, Louder WSOP for 2012?

Table talk and celebration encouraged at Series, required at feature tables

Jack Effel expects a “huge and great” 2012 World Series of Poker.

It certainly won’t be a quiet one.

“The poker room is not church,” Effel, the tournament director for the past 6 years, told poker media today. “You can talk in the poker room. We just feel that we need to set the tone to put the fun back into poker.”

A trimmed down WSOP TD Jack Effel promises to go easy on players who want to chat it up at the tables this year.

Table talk and celebration are allowed once again — and even encouraged, Effel and WSOP executive director Ty Stewart said.

“We’re going to relearn what it’s like to be at a poker table, understanding the verbal strategy,” Effel said.

Just don’t expose your cards, or talk when someone else has yet to act. Essentially, you can yap all you want if you’re closing the action.

This is something of a level, as one reporter pointed out: WSOP knows the ESPN cameras are on all the players who know the cameras are on them.

“We’ve rewritten the rules to say we want you to celebrate, just don’t get crazy,” Effel added, putting the kibosh on the 4-year-old “Hevad Khan rule.”

Players at a feature table are even required to announce their action.

At any given point between May 27 and July, there will be as many as 500 poker tables at the Rio. That’s the largest ever for a single event, Effel said.

This year’s WSOP offers 61 bracelets for events including a $1,500 “ante only” event, a $2,500 4-max event, a $3,000 heads-up NL/PLO event, and a $5,000 mix-max event. They’ve also added a couple quirky non-bracelet events, such as the $560 bracelet bounty, where players receive $500 for knocking out a bracelet winner, and a $560 (per player) doubles tournament, where players share a chip stack and alternate at each level.

They also announced the return of daily deep stack tournaments.

Stewart feels good about the prospect of a “second boom for poker,” even with Full Tilt player funds in limbo a year after Black Friday.

“This game is stronger than we all even hoped,” he said. “It has become truly global, and it is here to stay. It appears poker’s darkest days are behind us.”

A few other highlights from the conference call:

  • With a series of satellite events and a $25,000 mega satellite, the directors expect to fill the 48-player $1 million One Drop charity tournament to reach capacity.
  • Instead of the standard food comp, players this year will receive Caesars Total Reward credits for bracelet events based on the size of the buy-in.
  • The main event final table has been pushed up to Oct. 28, instead of the following month, when it would have interfered with the presidential election.
Posted by at 1:10 pm

March 8, 2012

Caesars Recruiting Dealers for 2012 WSOP

Are you (and I) good enough to shuffle at the Series?

The 2012 WSOP is looking for a few good dealers, or perhaps I should say a few hundred, and Caesars Entertainment still has a couple of 3-week boot camps to prep the troops.

You won’t get paid while attending the academy, but as far as I can tell you don’t have to pay either. Caesars promises to equip you with the skills to pitch cards and cut chips at RIO All Suites Hotel from May 27 to July 16, aka the 2012 World Series. A session in late April provides advanced lessons for dealing non-hold’em games.
I’m still waiting for a response on my application. If I get accepted, I hope to document the experience. And since Caesars stresses “good customer service skills,” we’ll do it with a smile.

The job ad also says “a neat professional appearance and good personal hygiene are essential.” That might narrow the competition in the poker community. But I know I’m ready to shave and shower before I shuffle up and deal.

Posted by at 2:44 pm