Greg Merson can’t fold under pressure.
Out of 6,598 players in the WSOP Main Even, the most celebrated poker tournament in the world, there are just nine left and Greg Merson is one of them.
Merson, a 24-year-old from North Laurel, currently sits in third place with $28.7 million in chips. The winner of the tournament, which began in July, will leave with $8.5 million and a gold and diamond bracelet.
"If I win the tournament, my life is going to change so much," Merson told The Baltimore Sun earlier this month. “You're like a poster boy for poker forever.”
During his short stint in college at the University of Maryland, Merson struggled with the hand he was dealt. He battled with an addiction to cocaine, pain killers, adderall and marijuana before dropping out of school.
“Poker got me out of that funk," he told ESPN Deportes earlier this month. "It filled that void. Playing poker was a rush that replaced the cocaine rush … it filled that drug void. I would go to meetings, play poker and stay out of trouble. I treated it like a job."
And that job has provided the Laurel native with more money than he had ever imagined. He won the WSOP Event 57 in July. His prize was more than $1.1 million and the highly coveted WSOP bracelet. He is the only player left in the Main Event to win the Event 57 prize.
Merson’s chance to win more continues on Oct. 29 in the Main Event for the 2012 World Series of Poker title.