By Matt Kaufman, Rakeback.com Poker News Editor
The final table of the 2012 World Series of Poker lasted a record-setting 399 hands, including roughly 11 hours of 3-handed play, but now it's finally over.
When all was said and done, it was 24-year old Greg Merson who collected all of the chips, the title of World Champion, and a bit over $8.5 million.
The final table began on Monday with 9 players, and Jesse Sylvia (the chip leader) and Greg Merson (because of his previous success and WSOP bracelet) were considered the favorites. On Monday the event got down to 3 players, and it was no surprise to anyone that both Sylvia and Merson were in the final 3.
The 3rd member of what would turn out to be a legendary 3-handed battle was 21-year-old Arizona State University student Jacob Balsiger. If Balsiger won, he would have become the youngest Main Event champ ever.
The 3 players received their cards at roughly 5:45pm local time on Tuesday, and about 11 hours later all 3 still had chips. Each spent periods of time with the chip lead, although Merson had the lead longer than Sylvia and Balsiger.
Eventually, Balsiger busted in 3rd place, and Merson and Sylvia were left to play heads-up for the biggest prize in poker.
Heads-up play didn't last nearly as long as 3-handed play did, and eventually Merson moved all-in holding Kd5d on top of a Sylvia preflop raise. Sylvia tanked and ultimately made a somewhat shocking call with just QsJs! The board was no help, and Merson took down the event.
In addition to winning the Main Event, Merson's finish secured his place as Player of the Year (POY). That means that for the 2nd consecutive year, Phil Hellmuth narrowly lost the POY race due to a Main Event final table performance (last year Ben Lamb edged out Hellmuth).
Congratulations to Greg Merson on an incredible run!
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