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24-year-old wins World Series of Poker and $8.53 million

24-year-old poker professional Greg Merson won the World Series of Poker just before dawn.

Greg Mersen

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.

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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.