Hometown: Laurel, MD
Chip Count: 28,725,000 (3rd overall)
Occupation: Professional Poker Player (five years)
Twitter Handle: @gregy20723
College: University of Maryland
Marital Status: Single
Poker Experience: 8 years
WSOP Earnings: $1,253,501
WSOP Cashes: 5, including one bracelet
Best Previous WSOP Finish: 1st place – 2012 WSOP, Event #57, $10,000 6-Handed No-Limit Hold’em
Main Event Results: 1 previous cash (2009: 639th place for $21,365)
Merson was interviewed just minutes after reaching the final table (July 16). Here is the transcript of that interview:
WSOP: What got you into poker?
MERSON: Watching it on ESPN.
WSOP: You have taken the lead in the WSOP Player of the Year race. Is that something that you’re excited about? Or is it more about making the final table right now?
MERSON: I don’t even know. I haven’t even realized that I won a bracelet like a week ago. This started right after and I’m really sleep deprived. I’m literally going to sleep for days. I never really got a chance to let it all sink in. The whole time it helped me that I was sleep deprived, because it didn’t seem real and there was no pressure. I was so tired and out of it.
WSOP: So from Day 1 things just seemed to fall into place?
MERSON: Yeah, pretty much. I mean there were two off days which help but then those days like building on top on each other 3,4,5 all the way through especially I think it was Day 5 or Day 6. Yeah Day 6, that took a lot out of me. I was really intensively focused the entire day. I was just drained.
WSOP: What was the last day of play like for you emotionally?
MERSON: Very swingy and the most intensive rush that I’ve ever had in poker.
WSOP: How does making the final table compare to winning a bracelet?
MERSON: I was telling them earlier when I had queen-ten of diamonds for that 20 million chip pot when I shoved the river….that feeling to be able to do that on national television may be even better than winning the bracelet, because it was such a big pot. And it was starting to become more realistic that I could make it.
WSOP: Would you say that was the turning point of the Main Event for you then?
MERSON: When I ran it up to 950,000 going into Day 6. As soon as I went from 950,000 to 4.4 million without a showdown, except for stacking Vanessa Selbst. I was running these bluffs that will probably be on TV that I liked and they worked. When that kid five-bet all-in with jack-eight suited against my ace-king, I didn’t even care because I had 4.4 million. You just can’t let it affect you. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and you can’t let any type of emotion affect the way that your going to play.
WSOP: What are you going to do with the time off?
MERSON: Hang out with family and friends and my dog. World Series of Poker Europe. I was planning on doing that before I even cashed in the Main Event.
WSOP: This has been a year of a lot of personal triumphs for you. Do you feel like something has shifted in your attitude in life, not just in poker, that’s causing all these positive changes?
MERSON: Yeah I thought I had it all figured out at a young age. I thought I had my s*** together. I let the poker life style get the best of me. It was a good experience to go from being at the top of online cash games to six months later struggling to beat $1/$2 Six-Max. I worked really hard to get all the way back to the highest games again, almost to where I was before I came here. I definitely have a way more positive mind set about everything. I am way more comfortable about everything. I don’t spend money nearly as much. I’m not flashy.
WSOP: Every day you were sporting a different sports jersey from a wide range of teams. What’s with all the jerseys?
MERSON: I just have a bunch of jerseys. I would wear them when I play live when I was playing underground games before I turned 21. I would play home games and I would always wear jerseys. From there, I just started getting more and more. I can wear a different one every day for tournaments. I probably have like 40.
WSOP: Is there a favorite one? Is this your new favorite one?
MERSON: No, I just wore this to stand out. And I thought it was kind of fun.