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Greg Merson Wins 2012 Card Player Player of the Year Award

Two Huge WSOP Titltes Including Main Event Win Secure POY Top Spot For Merson

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After an incredible twelve months of tournament poker the 2012 Card Player Player of the Year race has finally reached its conclusion. This year’s top player was none other than 2012 World Series of Poker main event champion Greg Merson, who outlasted a total of 7,072 players en route to winning two of the biggest titles of the year, along with $9,664,179 in live tournament earnings and a winning total of 5,100 POY points.

The 24-year-old from Laurel, Maryland started his year off with two cashes in short handed events at the WSOP, first finishing 21st in the WSOP $3,000 no-limit hold’em six-max event for $16,850 and then just days later finishing fifth in the inaugural WSOP $2,500 four-max no-limit hold’em event, earning $70,280 but no POY points as he had bubbled the official four-handed final table.

Merson during the $10,000 six-max no-limit hold'em championship Merson then catapulted himself into the mix in the POY race when he outlasted a tough 474-player field in the WSOP $10,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em six-max championship, defeating a tough final table that featured the likes of Keith Lehr, Shannon Shorr and Andrew Lichtenberger to earn $1,136,197 and 1,800 points. As a result, Merson jumped to 27th place in the overall POY standings at the time.

Just days later, Merson was one of 6,598 players to take his seat in the biggest tournament of the year, the WSOP $10,000 no-limit hold’em main event. He survived to day 5, when he played a huge pot with a pair and a flush draw up against his opponent’s set. He didn’t improve, and when the stacks where counted down Merson found himself crippled, left with only a few blinds. He managed to double up, and then double again, and before long was once again sitting with an average stack.

Merson made the final table with the third largest chip stack. Even before he made a name for himself with his bracelet win and two other cashes at this summer’s WSOP, Merson was a successful online cash game player with millions of hands worth of experience. As a result, many in the poker community predicted that he would put up a strong showing at the final table come October.

Merson during playdown to the _WSOP_ main event final tableAfter 402 hands of final table action, Merson had lived up to the expectations, using his familiarity with short-handed play to finish of his opponents and secure the title. For the win he earned $8,527,982 and his second WSOP gold bracelet.

In addition to all of the accolades and prize, Merson also scored 3,300 POY points, the most awarded in any one event this year. Due to the incredible field size and the large buy-in, the WSOP main event was big enough to catapult it’s winner into the top ten of the POY with that alone, but when combined with Merson’s other huge title, it gave him the outright lead in the race as the year wound down.

“You know, I didn’t get much attention when I was playing online, so it was hard to justify my decision to play poker for a living to my friends and relatives,” said Merson. “Now, they’ll get to see me on television, winning absurd amounts of money. This is validation to myself, showing all of those people who said I wouldn’t make it that they were wrong.”

Merson has spoken publicly about his former battles with drug addiction, but in early December was happily able to report that he had been sober for a whole year. And what an incredible year of redemption it has been for the young professional, who earned more than $9.6 million and two of poker’s most prestigious honors, the title of World Series of Poker main event champion and the title of 2012 Card Player Player of the Year.

“I’m just so lucky to even be alive,” Merson told Card Player after his main event win. “When I won [my first] bracelet I just started crying. To have a second chance at life and to do what I want to do — it’s amazing.”

Merson’s Final Stats for 2012

Total Points: 5,100
Titles: 2
Final Tables: 2
Money Won: $9,664,179

Event Place Earnings POY Points
WSOP $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em Six-Max 21 $16,850 0
WSOP $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em Four-max 5 $70,280 0
WSOP $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Six-Max 1 $1,136,197 1,800
WSOP $10,000 Main Event 1 $8,527,982 3,300

Card Player Player of the Year Winners:

Year Player Name
1997 Men Nguyen
1998 T.J. Cloutier
1999 Tony Ma
2000 David Pham
2001 Men Nguyen
2002 T.J. Cloutier
2003 Men Nguyen
2004 Daniel Negreanu
2005 Men Nguyen
2006 Michael Mizrachi
2007 David Pham
2008 John Phan
2009 Eric Baldwin
2010 Tom Marchese
2011 Ben Lamb
2012 Greg Merson