Where are they now? October Nine: Greg Merson

October 27, 2012

With the final leg of the 2012 World Series of Poker drawing near, it’s interesting to see what the October Nine have been up to and where their heads have been as they’ve been preparing for what is likely the biggest poker tournament of their lives thus far. Greg Merson, one of the October Nine Main Event Final Table players, says of the upcoming D-Day, “I’m going to feel like I want to throw up before.”

Since lasting through Day 7 when 26 other players stood between him and his chance at the final table Merson has also gone from checking his email once a week to checking it once a day, checking in with his agent two times a week, and participating in numerous interviews (too numerous to count) with press from all realms of media, both mainstream and poker related. Due to the fact that Merson is a recovering drug addict, many of the reporters want to talk about his past in addition to his poker power, but he says he doesn’t mind all the attention from the media.

He explains the difference in mainstream media and poker-related press interviews: “Any interview that has to do with poker, it is so much easier to talk about, because they kind of understand it a little bit more. The mainstream media is so ignorant to both sides of poker and the drug thing. They don’t know much about either, so it is kind of difficult to explain myself without sounding crazy. I’m a professional gambler who is a drug addict, you know what I mean?”

Because Merson has been so recognized in the media after winning the $10K Six-Handed NL event this summer and then earning one of the nine most coveted seats in poker, people are actually starting to recognize him in public. After buying some drinks for a friend at a bar in Baltimore, when he went to pay the tab, the bartender said, “Don’t worry about it man, good luck.”

When the Main Event closed out in July and the October Nine was set to continue in October, Merson was the frontrunner of the Player of the Year, but after the World Series of Poker Europe last month, Phil Hellmuth and Antonio Esfandiari passed him on the list. Then when Hellmuth won the WSOPE, it left only one option—for Merson to be the last man standing at the WSOP Main Event Final Table at the end of this month.

And while Merson is focused on winning, he’s not doing the usual prep work that past November Niners and his fellow October Niners have participated in. He says, “I don’t really think about too much strategy. We’ve had some discussions, but everything is just going to change so quickly that discussing things too much is going to be overload.”

As for the jersey he will wear on opening night at the Penn and Teller Theater October 29th, he’s got the black Adam Jones Baltimore Orioles picked out.


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