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Greg Merson: World Series of Poker winner takes home $8.53 million

Professional US card player Greg Merson, 24, has won the World Series of Poker, taking home $8.53 million.

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Chips of a competitor of the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) tournament are pictured during the event on October 18, 2011 in Cannes, southern France. (VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

Professional US card player Greg Merson, 24, has won the World Series of Poker, taking home $8.53 million.

The 24-year old also won a $100,000 gold bracelet and has the honor of being named Player of the Year, according to The Washington Post. Merson played against the other two finalists all night, in a record 12 hours of play in Las Vegas. He first sent home amateur Jake Balsiger early Wednesday morning, and then second place player Jesse Sylvia, who netted $5.3 million.

"I feel pretty good — got all the tears out so now I feel relaxed," Merson said after the game, reported BBC News.

"That was nuts, man," Sylvia, a native of Las Vegas, was also quoted as saying when the battle ended. "I thought whoever was going to heads-up was going to be much deeper than we were."

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According to BBC, the no-limit Texas hold 'em series started in July with nearly 7,000 players.

The hand that gave Merson the world poker title was two sixes, a three, a nine and a seven, said the Associated Press. His name is now alongside former champions, including Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth and Johnny Chan.

Third place Balsiger, 21, a political science major has vowed to graduate, despite winning $3.8 million, the AP also reported.

"I have some homework due tomorrow, my Supreme Court class," Balsiger said. "I didn't do it last week because I was in a final table simulation, so my professor's probably not the happiest with me."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/121031/greg-merson-world-series-poker-winner