(LAS VEGAS) — After nearly 12 hours and 400 hands, a poker player from Maryland has received the biggest treat possible this Halloween: $8.53 million.
Greg Merson, 24, won the World Series of Poker tournament before dawn Wednesday in Las Vegas at the Penn and Teller Theater. The tournament was an all-night, no-limit Texas hold ‘em marathon playing session that nearly broke the all-time record for duration, according to the World Series of Poker website.
Merson beat Las Vegas native Jesse Sylvia, 26, when he went all-in with a king-high. Three sixes, a three, a nine and a seven, plus his king-high, led to Merson’s victory over Sylvia’s queen-high.
Merson was also presented with the game’s ultimate symbol of achievement – the Jason of Beverly Hills designed gold and platinum bracelet encrusted with diamonds.
In addition to the $8.53 million, Merson also received the 2012 World Series of Poker Player of the Year honor, which in a points-based system rewards the player who posts the greatest accumulated results over the course of all 68 gold bracelet events played in a calendar year.
Merson attended the University of Maryland and has been playing poker full-time for about five years.
According to the World Series of Poker website, young players have done exceptionally well in the main event. The past five world champions were between 21 and 24 years old.
Sylvia, who placed second, won $5.3 million, while 21-year-old Jake Ballinger won $3.8 million for third place.
The World Series of Poker tournament began last summer at the Rio Las Vegas with 6,598 entrants, making it the fifth-largest live poker tournament in history.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Sam Turner, Deseret News
Ahiza Garcia, CNN
Cristina Alesci Seth Fiegerman and Charles Riley, CNN