UMD dropout wins more than $1 million in World Series of Poker

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The original post incorrectly stated how much Merson won. The post has been updated. 

I sent a routine request last Friday, a Facebook message asking for an interview with a former Terp.

Laurel native Greg Merson dropped out of this university when he was 19 but just more than a week ago, he raked in more than $1 million by besting a field of 474 to win the six-handed no-limit hold’em tournament at the 2012 World Series of Poker.

He agreed on Saturday to talk about his accomplishment. But not yet, the 24-year-old wrote. He was still sort of busy.

“I’m still in the main and won’t want to do the interview until I bust,” Merson wrote. “Day five is tomorrow. Will contact you when I win/bust!”

The “main,” or “main event,” was a $10,000 entry no-limit hold’em tournament that caps off the World Series of Poker every year.

The winner takes home a cool $8.5 million and the fame and notoriety that comes with winning what is widely seen as the most prestigious poker tournament in the world.

As the days passed, the field narrowed. Flush draws came up empty. Players busted. Merson didn’t.

On Monday evening, the field finally narrowed down to the nine players who will reconvene in October to compete for the main event title.

Merson made the cut. In fact, he has the third-largest chip stack, at more than 28 million chips. The chip leader, Jesse Sylvia, has more than 43 million chips.

Suffice to say, Merson has taken the poker world by storm. On the night — well, morning — of the final cutdown,’s poker editor, Andrew Feldman, tweeted “Gregory Merson is dominating.”

The next morning, an article in Card Player Magazine summed up Merson’s ascent in a headline: “Greg Merson Becoming A ‘Legend’ As World Series Of Poker Main Event Reaches Final Table.”

After making the final table, Merson, using the handle @Gregy20723, tweeted one word at approximately 3 a.m.: “Boom.”

He provided more clarity in his next tweet, three hours later: “Thanks for all the support everyone. So exhausted, gonna get some sleep and back home tm!!!”

I’m still waiting to speak withMerson, who is likely fielding a few more inquiries than last week. But I’ll be patient. It’s not everyday a former Terp is sitting on a stack of more than 28 million chips with the chance to permanently etch himself into the annals of poker history.

— Jeremy Barr is a student blogger for The Diamondback


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