It may be a little bit hard to believe, but Greg Merson’s victory in the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event happened almost seven months ago. Merson’s historic run to the Main Event title and WSOP Player of the Year honors are unlikely to be matched any time soon.
It also put Merson in a position to enjoy some of the perks that come along with being he World Champion of poker.
“I was courtside at a Miami Heat game,” said Merson, “I paid for those, and it was awesome. I was also courtside University of Maryland games twice, against UNC and NC State, both of which were set up by the school. And they announced me on the court too.”
One of Merson’s biggest opportunities is yet to come as he’ll be on the field at Camden Yards, which seems all-too appropriate considering his choice of an Orioles jersey at the Main Event final table.
“I’m throwing out the first pitch at an Orioles game against the Yankees next month, which is sick” said Merson.
Another opportunity Merson was able to enjoy because of his win was an invite into some of the most exclusive games in the world in Macau. His first trip wasn’t going as planned, even though he was enjoying every minute of it.
“It was sick. The last day I was there I was playing a $240/$650/$1,300 three-blind game and I had a flight that I had to catch a taxi for at 6 am and I was worried because I was down $200,000 US at one in the morning. It was the best game I had been in during the three weeks I was there, and then I ended up winning really small before the game broke up at 4. It was a dream situation for the last session.”
Merson’s itching to get another shot at Macau’s juicy cash games.
“I already booked my flight to go back a couple of months ago, said Merson, “I’m going back there in May.”
While Macau itself is largely a gambling destination, one Merson describes as ‘Las Vegas on an island’, there was one thing he didn’t get to do during his time in Southeast Asia.
“I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see Hong Kong,” said Merson, “But as soon as I got there [to Macau] I knew that I would be spending more time there in the future, so I know that I’ll get to do the Hong Kong thing for sure.”
Merson currently finds himself in Australia, where he played all of the events at the World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific. It was a trip that came together at the last minute at the request of Phil Ivey.
“I didn’t know I was coming here until literally six days before I left,” said Merson. “I didn’t know I was on the Caesars Cup team until 10 days before, and then Ivey called me six days before and told me I needed to be here.”
Merson sported an Ivey Poker patch during his run to victory in the Main Event, and he’s gotten a rare opportunity to spend some time with arguably the best poker player in the world.
“His circle is really small,” said Merson, “It’s small for a reason, and everybody understands that. Certain things just go unsaid because he’s a really private person. It’s cool to just be a part of that crew. The other guys who are running the company, I’ve become pretty close with them too, so we spend a lot of time together.
One of Merson’s favorite experiences happened during his time in Macau, when he got to watch Ivey work his magic on the virtual felt.
“I hung out with him in Macau a few times,” said Merson, “Because I didn’t have internet. The coolest thing was that I got to play online with him, so he was playing online and I was playing right next to him. That’s the actual dream of any online poker player.