24-year-old wins World Series of Poker and $8.53 million
Greg Merson, a 24-year-old Maryland poker professional, won the World Series of Poker main event, a tournament that lasted roughly 12 hours and concluded just before dawn.
Merson beat out 26-year-old Jesse Sylvia for the title and pushed past Phil Hellmuth for the series' Player of the Year honors.
Sylvia and Merson together outlasted the third-place player at the table, a 21-year-old senior at Arizona State. The last amateur at the table, Jake Balsiger was eliminated 11 hours into the tournament. He won $3.8 million for his third place victory and still plans to graduate.
The final three contenders of the no-limit Texas Hold 'em tournament broke the series record of 364 hands early on; Balsinger was eliminated at hand 382. The tournament began in July with 6,598 players and dwindled to the finalists, who competed on Monday night. The final three played last night for the $8.53 million first-place prize, which ultimately went to Merson.