Greg Merson Coasts into Day 4 of 2013 WSOP Main Event

Greg Merson reached his peak during Level 14, but fell back after a big call went awry. (Jay Newnum photo)

Greg Merson reached his peak during Level 14, but fell back after a big call went awry. (Jay Newnum photo)

The likelihood of a defending champion going back-to-back in the Main Event is extremely low, but that hasn’t stopped Greg Merson from making a strong go of it at the 2013 WSOP. Merson took a stack that was well above average into Day 3 of the tournament, with hopes of building that stack even bigger.

The first level of the day derailed those hopes to a certain extent, but Merson righted the ship in Level 12, bringing his stack back over 200,000. He coasted into the dinner break and started Level 14 slowly. Merson then played the biggest pot of his tournament with pocket aces and held, and made a hero call that would’ve made him one of the chipleaders, only for his opponent’s flush to hit the river. Merson redefined card dead in the final level of the day, playing only three hands and seeing zero flops in the last two hours.

BLUFF has been following Merson since Day 1A, and that coverage continued into Day 3. Below is a full account of Greg Merson’s Day 3 of the 2013 WSOP Main Event.

12:08 – Merson takes Seat 5. Table 408, which was supposed to be in the Purple section of the Amazon Room, was moved to one of four secondary featured tables. The most notable player at the table is Sam Grafton, who is siting to his immediate left. Here’s how the table looked at the beginning of the day:

Seat 1: Yu Kurita – 54,800
Seat 2: Ryan Leng – 94,200
Seat 3: Brett Maistri – 108,300
Seat 4: Michael Chu – 68,500
Seat 5: Merson – 275,600
Seat 6: Grafton – 101,500
Seat 7: Peter Spreadbury – 55,400
Seat 8: Julian Sacks – 36,200
Seat 9: Philip Long – 189,500

12:10 – After a short delay, Jack Effel takes his position in front of the camera on the Main Stage to kick off Day 3. For the first time in the tournament, the TV production is in full swing. Blinds are 800/1,600 with a 200 ante to start play.

12:12 – Kevin Pollack comes over to wish Merson good luck.

12:14 – Merson goes with a baseball jersey for the third consecutive day. After starting with Cal Ripken and then going on to Paul Konerko on Day 2A, Merson is sporting a Royal Blue Jose Bautista #19 Blue Jays jersey.

12:19 – Leng opens to 3,500 in the cutoff and Merson calls in the big blind. The flop is T 9 6, Merson leads out for 3,800 and Leng folds.

12:27 – Leng raises to 3,500 from under-the-gun, Merson calls in the hijack, Grafton three-bets to 10,000, Leng four-bets to 24,500, Merson folds, Grafton five-bet shoves and Leng snap-folds.

12:36 – Merson raises to 3,200 on the button and Spreadbury calls in the big blind. The flop is 8 4 2, both players check and the turn is the 7. Spreadbury checks, Merson bets 2,300 and Spreadbury folds.

12:40 – Kurita eliminates Spreadbury with J J against T T.

12:42 – “You won this thing last year, won POY and you’re still not on the featured table?” asks Grafton jokingly. “What have you got to do, win the thing again this year?”

12:50 – Merson completes in the small blind, Grafton raises to 4,300 in the big blind and Merson calls. The flop is J 5 4, Merson checks, Grafton bets 5,800 and Merson folds.

1:00 – Merson opens to 3,200, Leng three-bets to 9,400 and Merson folds.

1:06 – Maistri eliminates Sacks, A 9 beating Sacks’ K J.

1:10 – Merson raises to 3,500 from under the gun, Leng calls on the button and Chu calls in the big blind. The flop is J 4 3, it checks to Leng and he bets 9,300. Chu folds, Merson calls and the turn is the 6, which both players check. The river is the 7, Merson bets 4,000, Leng shrugs his shoulders and calls. Merson has J 6, but Leng has 8 5 for the straight.

1:12 – Corrie Wunstel sits in Seat 7.

1:25 – French rapper Bruno Lopes sits in Seat 8

1:27 – Chu opens to 3,500, Merson three-bets to 8,000 and Chu folds.

1:57 – Long raises to 3,500 in early position, Leng calls, Chu calls and Merson three-bets to 11,500. Long folds, Leng calls and Chu calls, with the flip coming down 8 5 5. It’s checked to Merson, who bets 17,000, and both players call.

The turn is the J, it’s checked to Merson again and he bets 28,500. Leng check-raises to 64,000, Chu quickly folds and it’s back on Merson. He thinks for nearly four minutes and lets it go.

2:05 – Merson takes down the blinds and antes with a raise.

2:10 – Grafton raises to 3,500 under the gun, Maistri calls on the button and Merson calls in the big blind. The flop is K J T, it’s checked to Grafton, he bets 5,300, Maistri raises to 11,700 and both players fold.

2:15 – Merson completes in the small blind and Grafton checks his option. The flop is A 6 4, Merson bets 2,500 and Grafton calls. The turn is the 7, Merson checks, Grafton bets 5,900, Merson raises to 16,500 and Grafton calls. The river is the 8 and Merson puts Grafton, who has 55,000 behind, all in. Grafton tanks for two minutes and folds.

2:16 – The previous hand goes five minutes into the break. Even with that pot it’s been a tough level for Merson, who now has 180,500.

2:30 – The start of Level 12 brings blinds of 1,000/2,000 and an ante of 300.

2:49 – Maistri raises to 4,500 from the button, Merson three-bets to 11,500 and Maistri folds.

2:53 – Chu opens to 4,500, Merson three-bets to 9,500 and Wunstel three-bets all in. Chu and Merson fold.

3:05 – Merson fires for 5,500 on a turn with 12,000 in the pot. Maistri raises to 15,200 and Merson snap-folds.

3:08 – Merson completes in the small blind and Grafton checks. The flop is A 8 5, Merson bets 2,500 and Grafton folds.

3:12 – Merson limps the button, Grafton completes in the small blind and Wunstel checks his option in the big blind. The flop is J J 3, all three players check and the turn is the 4. Grafton bets 4,500, Wunstel folds and Merson calls, bringing the 8 on the river. Grafton checks, Merson bets 3,800 and Grafton folds.

3:16 – Merson raises and takes the blinds and antes.

3:31 – Merson raises to 4,000 in the cutoff, Grafton three-bets all in for 28,200 on the button and Merson calls. It’s Merson’s A J against Grafton’s Q 8. “You’ve got my straight flush blockers,” laughs Grafton. The flop is A 4 3.

“I’ll take a chop,” says Grafton, who’s fallen way behind on the flop. The 9 turn seals the pot for Merson and the river is the 2. “Nice playing with you,” says Grafton as he makes his exit.

3:33 – Samuel Tsehar sits in Seat 6.

3:36 – Tsehar takes his seat in the middle of the pot immediately following Grafton’s elimination. Leng opens for 4,200 in early position, Maistri three-bets to 9,700 and Merson cold four-bets to 21,400. It folds back around to Maistri, who five-bets to 53,500. Merson thinks it over for a minute, then folds.

3:54 – Merson raises to 4,000 in the cutoff and Lopes calls in the big blind. They check through the K T 6 flop and A turn, but Lopes bets 5,000 on the 6 river. Merson folds.

4:02 – Merson opens to 4,000 under the gun and he’s called by Maistri in the small blind and Chu in the big blind. The flop is A J 6, it’s checked to Merson, he bets 5,000 and he takes the pot.

4:05 – Tsehar raises to 4,000 under the gun and Merson calls in the big blind. They both check the K 7 5 flop and Merson checks again on the Q turn. Tsehar bets 2,800, Merson raises to 20,600 and Tsehar folds.

4:07 – Merson provides some insight into what it takes to be a Main Event champion on Twitter. “Forgot how good you have to be at holding your pee in during these things.”

4:12 – Long raises to 4,200 in early position, Merson calls on the button and Wunstel calls in the big blind. The flop is J 9 5, Wunstel checks, Long bets 6,800 and Merson raises to 18,600. Wunstel folds, Long pauses and then he sends his cards into the muck one at a time.

4:17 – Merson gets up to stretch and signs a hat for a fan on the rail.

4:28 – Maistri eliminates Leng.

4:32 – After a rough start to the day, Merson has righted the ship in Level 12. He has 214,800 going into the break.

4:52 – Players return for Level 13, with blinds of 1,200/2,400 and a 400 ante. Two hours until dinner.

4:54 – Merson stands up to do some more stretching

4:58 – Merson raises to 5,000 and takes it.

5:03 – Merson talks to a friend on the rail and a fan asks for a photo. “As long as I don’t miss a hand,” replies Merson, who smiles for the picture.

5:15Phil Ivey wins a big pot on the main stage and Merson hears the crowd go wild. He turns around to scope out what happened.

5:28 – Merson raises to 5,000 under the gun and Nicolas Walters, who took the empty Seat 2, calls on the button. They both check the J 9 5 flop and T turn. The river is the 6, Merson checks, Walters bets out and Merson quickly folds.

5:32 – Chu raises to 4,900 in the small blind and Merson calls in the big blind. The flop is A T 5, Chu checks, Merson bets 3,500 and Chi calls. The turn is the T, they both check, and the river is the Q. Chu checks, Merson bets 19,500 and Chu calls. Merson is caught bluffing with J 8 and the pot is shipped to Chu.

5:45 – Merson raises to 5,000 and Wunstel three-bets all in. Merson asks for a count, and it’s 44,000 more. Merson calls and he’s in rough shape with K J against Wunstel’s A J. They both catch a pair on the Q J 5 flop, but Merson’s still behind. The turn is the 8 and the river is the 4 as Wunstel doubles through Merson.

5:57 – The biggest pot of Merson’s tournament nearly spells doom for the defending champion. Maistri opens to 5,200, Merson three-bets to 12,000 in the small blind and Tsehar four-bets to 22,400 in the big blind. Maistri quickly gets out of the way but Merson instantly five-bets all in for 115,000. Tsehar beats him into the pot.

Merson has A 8 and he’s well behind Tsehar’s T T. They pause as the cameras gather for what could be Merson’s final hand. The flop is 6 4 3 and Merson starts packing his bag, almost resigned to his fate. The dealer waits and, when instructed by the crew, deals the turn. It’s the A.

Merson suddenly has new life, needing to dodge two cards for a full double up. The river is the K and Merson is instantly back to 240,000, his highest point since very early in the day.

6:21 – Merson raises to 5,000 on the button and Wunstel calls in the big blind. They each check the J 8 8 flop and 2 turn. The river is the 8, Wunstel checks, Merson bets 10,000 and Wunstel calls. Merson shows J 9 for a full house and wins the pot.

6:33 – Merson raises to 5,000 in early position, Lopes calls in the hijack, Long calls in the cutoff, Kurita calls on the button and Walters calls in the small blind. “Everyone called?” asks Merson as the flop comes T 2 2. Walters checks, Merson bets 15,000 and it folds all the way back around to Walters, who calls.

The turn is the 3, Walters checks, Merson bets 30,000 and Walters calls. The river is the 5 and both players check. Merson shows Q Q and Walters shows A T before mucking his hand.

6:54 – Merson goes into the dinner break with 329,000.

8:23 – Cards are back in the air, but not for Merson’s table. They’re being moved over to the secondary TV table.

8:28 – Everyone gets mic’d up and cards are back in the air.

8:48 – Merson has yet to play a single pot at the TV table.

8:58 – Walters raises to 6,500 in early position, Maistri three-bets to 14,500 and Merson cold four-bets to 26,000. It folds back around to Walters, who five-bets to 44,000, and both Maistri and Merson fold.

9:04 – Merson raises to 6,000 and takes the blinds and antes for his first pot at the new table.

9:15 – Merson raises to 6,000 from under the gun, Lopes three-bets to 15,000 and Merson calls. They both check the K Q T flop, and Merson checks again on the 2 turn. Lopes bets 20,000 and takes the pot.

9:20 – Merson and Tsehar have been going back and forth since Tsehar sat down, seemingly making this next hand all but inevitable. Tsehar raises to 6,000 under the gun, Long calls and it’s folded back around to Merson. He makes it 24,500 in the big blind, Tsehar four-bets to 43,000 and Long folds. Merson thinks it over for about 90 seconds and then five-bets to 76,500.

Tsehar six-bets all in and Merson snap-calls for 284,000 total and shows A A. Tsehar is going to need some help with the A K. The 7 4 2 flop is a clean one for Merson, but the K on the turn gives Tsehar two outs to eliminate the defending Main Event champion. The river is the 5 and Merson gets a full double-up to 580,000, by far the highest point his stack has reached during this tournament.

9:36 – Merson raises to 7,500 in the hijack and Lopes calls in the small blind. The flop is K J 3 and both players check. Lopes bets 10,000 on the 3 turn, Merson raises to 25,000 and Lopes four-bets all in for 133,000. This sends Merson into the tank for more than three minutes. He eventually calls with A J and it’s a good call, as Lopes is on the draw with Q T. Merson is one card away from another big pot and a stack of over 700,000, making him one of the chipleaders.

The river is the 6, though, and Lopes makes his flush to double up. Merson still has 431,000.

9:43 – Walters eliminates Tsehar.

9:55 – Kurita is eliminated.

9:59 – Merson raises to 6,000 in early position and Maistri calls in the big blind. The flop is 9 9 8, Maistri bets 5,500 and Merson folds.

10:05 – Paul Birman sits in Seat 1.

10:06 – Michael Ferrell sits in Seat 6.

10:10Anthony Gregg is eliminated on the main stage. The crowd gives him a round of applause as he exits, which draws Merson’s attention. As they take Gregg’s microphone off he looks in Merson’s direction and Merson throws his hands in the air incredulously, a light needle between the two friends.

10:26 – Maistri raises to 6,000 in the hijack and Merson calls on the button. The flop is T 8 3, Merson bets 5,500 and Maistri folds.

10:27 – The entire table racks up as they’re being moved to the primary TV table for the final level of the day. Merson has 409,000 going into 2,000/4,000.

10:52 – Level 15 is underway.

10:54 – Ferrell eliminates Chu, holding with 5 5 against A 9.

11:00 – Matt Reid sits in Seat 4.

11:04 – Reid raises to 8,000 under the gun, Merson is next to act and he three-bets to 16,000, and it folds back around to Reid. He folds.

11:33 – Since three-betting Reid, Merson has not entered a single pot.

11:35 – Birman is eliminated when his A T loses to Wunstrel’s A 4 with a 4 on the flop.

11:47 – Dustin Speta sits down in Seat 1.

12:04 – Merson has not willingly put a chip into a pot in over an hour. He’s played one pot in the first 75 minutes of Level 15.

12:09 – Merson raises to 8,000 in middle position and takes the blinds and antes.

12:29 – Merson has taken to sitting in the stands while watching hands play out at the final table. There are 13 minutes left in the day.

12:37 – Merson raises to 8,000 in early position, Ferrell calls in middle position, Wunstel three-bets to 27,500. Merson and Ferrell both fold.

12:45 – The last of three hands is dealt at the end of the night and Merson ends Day 3 with 390,500. He didn’t see a single flop in the final level of play Thursday.

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Tim Fiorvanti

Tim Fiorvanti graduated from St. John's University with a B.S. in Journalism in 2008. After several years in the industry, he started working for BLUFF in the summer of 2010. He worked his way up at BLUFF and joined full time as a Senior Writer in April of 2012. Fiorvanti now serves as the Managing Editor of BLUFF. He's a tortured Mets and Jets fan, along with several other frustrating allegiances, but he's also a two-time defending BLUFF Fantasy Football Champion.
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