MEET THE LATEST WSOP CHAMPION – GREG MERSON
Name: Gregory Merson
Birthplace: Washington, DC
Current Residence: Laurel, Maryland (also spends much of his time in Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
Marital Status: Single
Profession: Professional Poker Player (highly-experienced online player)
Education: Attended community college and University of Maryland (did not graduate)
WSOP Cashes: 5
WSOP Final Table Appearances: 1
WSOP Wins (with this victory): 1
First-place prize: $1,136,197
Note: Greg Merson will be classified as a professional poker player in WSOP records, since he plays poker full-time and has no other source of income.
INTERVIEW WITH THE WINNER
Question: A million dollars. Actually, $1,136,197. How does that feel?
Merson: Yea! It’s a pretty surreal experience. I don’t really play any tournaments. My biggest tournament score was having 5 percent of someone who won PCA -- and I got $75K for that. I don’t really play. This is probably my 10th $10K event, because I just play online cash. I never expected to have an opportunity to realistically win one of these, because they’re so tough. The $10K especially, shorthanded. It feels awesome.
Question: Since you don’t play a lot of tournaments, what compelled you to enter this event?
Merson: Well, I play all Six-Max short-handed cash online and Heads-Up as well. So, these tournaments structure my skill set better than the full ring ones, because all I do is play Six-Max online. When I get to play against a tournament this deep, it feels like I’m playing a cash game. So I’m way more comfortable than playing full ring with 30 big blinds and the pre-flop war, which I’m not too good at. I t’s better playing post-flop.
Question: Did you get a little disgruntled after coming close in the Four-Handed event, or did that motivate you to try to win it all?
Merson: No, that was such a cool experience and I had gone deep in a few [events] over the last few years. That was my first deep run in a World Series event. I had just enjoyed that experience and knew that one day, getting to that final table (even though it wasn’t an official final table) would help me to be more comfortable and enjoy the moment. This is just a bonus. I don’t know how the tournament players do this for a living. It’s just a crazy way to make a living. I almost feel guilty when I’m eliminating them, because this is how they pay their bills and I just want to play for fun and do well, but if I bust, it’s whatever.
Question: What did you do after Black Friday?
Merson: I moved to Toronto.
Question: How long have you been there?
Merson: It’ll be a year, later this month.
Question: Did you play the WSOP last year, and then move?
Merson: I flew straight from here to Toronto, liked it, and decided to move there.
Question: Would you give us, aside from poker, a little more about you, where you grew up?
Merson: I’ve actually never really worked a nine-to-five job. I worked for my best friend’s dad and my uncle who are both entrepreneurs and worked when I was 16 or 17 for them. Both jobs only lasted less than a month. That’s when I started playing poker. I went to University of Maryland at age 17 and lasted two and a half semesters, dropped out, took my first shot at poker. It didn’t go too well, but that’s what I knew I wanted to do. So, I went back to community college to make my parents happy and to get by doing the bare minimum, knowing that eventually I was going to do this. Then, when I dropped out the second time, you should have seen their faces. They thought I was crazy, but I worked really hard. My first year I must have played 70 hours a week online. No exaggeration. (interview stops – Merson becomes emotional)
Question: You’re going to be able to call your parents now. What do you think they’re going to say after seeing this?
Merson: I don’t know. My dad gets here tomorrow. I never expected to be so emotional. (interview ends with Merson in tears).