Known as event #61 this year, the Main Event is the most sought out bracelet in the World Series of Poker. All other WSOP events, whether it is in Texas Hold’em, Stud, Omaha, Razz, etc., fail in comparison. When you win any of these other events, generally a buy-in is between $1,000-$3,000 with fields ranging from 1,200 to 3,000 players, you are considered a “bracelet winner”. When you win the Main Event, a $10,000 buy-in, with no less than 6,000 players to get through, you are considered “World Champion”.
This year was no different as 6,598 players converged in Las Vegas back in July, playing 7 12+ hour sessions spread over 11 days. The only reason they say it is a 117 day event is because once they get down to the final table, (9 handed) they close shop until November. Usually the player’s are referred to as the “November Nine”. Not so this year as they played down from 9 players to 3 Monday night, then came back Tuesday night to crown a champion (Oct 29th and 30th).
The second and final night of the 43rd Annual WSOP started three handed at 6pm PST. 247 hands were played 3-handed, lasting just over 11 hours. Jake Balsiger was trying to become the youngest Main Event winner ever at 21 years, 9 months and 9 days. I can tell you, as someone who watched every hand, it was brutal. The term, “rather be watching paint dry”, danced in my head over and over. In the end, Balsiger put up a great fight, but being the short stack almost the entire evening, finally did him in. He pushed all in with Q-10 and was called by Merson, who had him dominated with K-Q. After a quick break, Greg Merson and Jessie Silvia continued on playing heads-up for the championship. Luckily for me the battle did not last long, as within an hour it was over. Merson went all-in pre flop with suited K-5 of diamonds. After thinking about it for a lengthy time, Silvia called with suited Q-J of spades. With his tournament life on the line, the board did not improve his hand, giving Greg Merson the 2012 World Championship.
I think this is a feel good story as Greg had come back from the depths of a drug addiction that cost him a fortune and weakened his world-class poker skills. Yet he believed he could do something great. “He always had a lot of faith in himself,” said his father, Stan. “I never saw him lose that.” Kudos and I tip my cap to you sir!
This year’s prize pool was $62,031,385. The final results from the final table are as follows.
1. Greg Merson $8,527,982 Laurel, Maryland
2. Jessie Silvia $5,295,149 Las Vegas, Nevada
3. Jake Balsiger $3,799,073 Tempe, Arizona
4. Russell Thomas $2,851,537 Hartford, Connecticut
5. Jeremy Ausmus $2,155,313 Las Vegas, Nevada
6. Andras Koroknai $1,640,902 Debrecen, Hungary
7. Michael Espisito $1,258,040 Seaford, New York
8. Rob Salaburu $971,360 San Antonio, Texas
9. Steve Gee $754,798 Sacramento, California
In closing I will add that I really enjoy the WSOP. Even though I’m not comfortable calling it a “sport”, I do love the fact that anyone with a buy-in somewhere in their pocket can be a Champion. Who knows, maybe one of these days one of us can realize this dream on ESPN.