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The Weekly Turbo: Greg Merson Wins WSOP Main Event, Phil Ivey's Training Site, and More

Weekly Turbo

Did you miss any of the top poker news stories this week? Well you've come to the right place to get caught up. We're covering Greg Merson's victory at the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event, Phil Ivey's new poker training site, and more.

Poker Tournaments

Poker's New World Champ

On Wednesday morning, Greg Merson won the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The 24-year-old from Laurel, Md., bested a field of 6,598 to collect the top prize of $8,531,853 and the coveted WSOP Main Event bracelet.

Merson won an epic marathon final table that lasted 398 hands, the longest ever at the World Series of Poker. Three-handed play alone lasted 197 hands and more than 11 hours.

Merson defeated Jesse Sylvia heads-up to win the title. Sylvia, 26, took home $5,295,149 for his runner-up result.

With the win, Merson became the first player since Chris Ferguson in 2000 to win a preliminary WSOP bracelet and the Main Event in the same year. His two bracelets in 2012 also pushed him past Phil Hellmuth to win the 2012 WSOP Player of the Year.

Merson's incredible story is one of perseverance and determination. Earlier this year, Merson was recovering from a drug relapse that occurred after his career was stripped away from him on Black Friday. Months later, after refocusing his efforts on poker, he won his first bracelet in WSOP Event #57, the $10,000 six-handed no-limit hold'em event for $1.1 million.

Now nearly 11 months clean, Merson has joined the likes of Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Stu Ungar, and Hellmuth himself in the elite class of World Series of Poker Main Event champions.

Here's a look at the final table results from the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event final table:

PlacePlayerPrize
1stGreg Merson$8,531,853
2ndJesse Sylvia$5,295,149
3rdJake Balsiger$3,799,073
4thRussell Thomas$2,851,537
5thJeremy Ausmus$2,155,313
6thAndras Koroknai$1,640,902
7thMichael Esposito$1,258,040
8thRob Salaburu$971,360
9thSteve Gee$754,798

For a complete look at the WSOP Main Event final table, read our hand-for-hand coverage in the PokerNews Live Reporting Blog.

Another Big One

On Monday night, Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte announced on ESPN that his $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop will be returning in 2014. The biggest buy-in event ever formed, the Big One created quite a stir at the 2012 World Series of Poker as Antonio Esfandiari bested a 48-player field to collect $18.3 million and a platinum WSOP bracelet.

“By working with the showman, Guy Laliberté, we have learned there was only one choice. An encore," said Caesars Interactive Entertainment CEO Mitch Garber. "We look forward to collaborating with Guy and One Drop to continue to find fun and exciting ways to make a positive and lasting contribution through the vehicle that is the great game of poker.”

In addition to that exciting news, the WSOP announced that it will host the Little One for One Drop, a $1,111 buy-in bracelet event featuring unlimited re-entries over two starting days, during the 2013 WSOP. The Little One for One Drop will be an official gold bracelet event and is expected to draw one of the biggest fields of the 2013 WSOP.

"With the Little One” and the Big One on the horizon, we can continue to greatly impact the lives of those in need, while at the same time raising awareness of the impact water has on our planet,” said Laliberte, who finished fifth in this year's Big One for more than $1.8 million.

For more on the return of the Big One for One Drop, read the article here at PokerNews.com.

$130,000 Grudge Match

Aguiar needles Cantu on Twitter
Aguiar needles Cantu on Twitter

Last month at the World Series of Poker Europe, Brandon Cantu claimed that the WSOP "robbed" him of a bracelet in the €10,000 Mixed Max event, in which he lost heads-up to Jon Aguiar after a controversial decision to delay the match two days. In case you missed it, Cantu unleashed his true feelings to PokerNews' Sarah Grant in an rant interview that circled through the community.

Shortly after losing the heads-up match in Cannes, Cantu proposed that he and Aguiar play a heads-up grudge match for the money difference between first and second place — $130,000. Aguiar quickly accepted, and the match is now on for Wednesday, Nov. 7 at the Aria Poker Room in Las Vegas.

There's certainly no love lost between the two, as evidenced by the nasty table banter during their match in Europe. Things didn't get any friendlier on Thursday when Aguiar posted a picture of his bracelet and some casino chips on Twitter, simply saying to Cantu, "come and get it."

Aguiar said the match will be a "non-title fight," meaning the bracelet will not be up for grabs, but there will certainly be plenty of interested spectators at Aria when this one goes down.

Check in next week as we'll provide the results right here in the Nightly Turbo.

Online Poker

#TeamIvey

It seems Phil Ivey will be soon be revealing some of the secrets that made him the world's most feared poker player.

In an interview published by ESPN.com on Monday, Ivey told writer Zach McCann that he has launched a new website, IveyPoker.com, dedicated to teaching people how to play poker the "right way." Ivey is working to form a team of pros who will provide free, downloadable video instruction to the poker community.

"I think a lot of people really don’t know how to play poker, and I think this is going to be an opportunity to play with the best players in the world," Ivey told McCann.

So far, Team Ivey is made up of Patrik Antonius, Jennifer Harman, and October Niner Greg Merson, whose photo is featured on the IveyPoker.com website. When asked why he chose Merson to be on the team, Ivey said he's always been impressed by the way the October Niner handles himself at the table.

"He doesn’t have much of an ego," Ivey said. "I think he’s going to be around poker a long time and be very successful — that’s why I chose Greg. He saw an opportunity to be associated with the brand, but really it was me that came after him. It wasn’t like he approached me."

We don't know many details about Phil Ivey's new poker site, but keep an eye on IveyPoker.com for the latest. Read Ivey's full interview at ESPN.com.

Countdown to (Re)Launch

The repayment process for non-U.S. Full Tilt Poker customers is already under way, and on Friday PokerStars released a statement about its plans leading up to the Nov. 6 relaunch date.

Eric Hollreiser, PokerStars' head of corporate communications, posted in his blog that PokerStars has reopened Full Tilt Poker for play-money action in order to beta-test the software and iron out any bugs before Nov. 6. The company has also provided access to accounts for former players in many licensed markets, including Estonia, Belgium, Denmark, Spain and now France.

"Today we will open the functionality to French players, allowing them to transfer funds from their Full Tilt Poker account to a PokerStars.fr account," Hollreiser said Friday. "As we've indicated in recent "weeks, we continue to face obstacles in Italy so unfortunately we will be unable to provide Italian players with access to their Full Tilt Poker funds by November 6th as we had originally hoped. We continue to work with legal advisers and Italian authorities to resolve this matter, and will be updating Italian players on the progress."

Hollreiser added that Full Tilt Poker is still on schedule for the Nov. 6 reopening, at which point non-U.S. players will have full access to their account and will once again be able to play on FullTiltPoker.com.

Added Hollreiser, "For the millions of players who will have access to their funds, this marks the end of a long and emotional roller-coaster ride. We hope this begins a new journey that allows players to enjoy two great poker sites - Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars — with the confidence in the shared ownership of The Rational Group, who will ensure the safety and security of your funds and the integrity of your poker action."

Check out the PokerStars Corporate Blog for more.

For the Micro Grinders

On Thursday, PokerStars announced $5 million in guaranteed prize pools for the third installment of MicroMillions, a popular tournament series designed for recreational and micro-stakes players. The online poker festival takes place from Nov. 15 through 25 and features affordable buy-ins from 11 cents up to $22 across 100 tournaments.

Events will run around the clock during the 11-day series, which will culminate with a $22 MicroMillions Main Event with a $1 million prize pool — with $150,000 guaranteed to the winner — on Sunday, Nov. 25. The series will feature all of your favorite poker variants, plus a wide variety of formats like turbos, rebuys, shootouts, knockouts, and big-ante events.

The most recent MicroMillions series in July was extremely popular with low-stakes recreational players and online grinders alike, generating a staggering 1,288,221 entries and total prize pools adding up to $7,966,209.85. The $22 buy-in Main Event was won by SoyDelGlobo who walked away with $157,218.68.

For a complete look at the MicroMillions III schedule, visit PokerStars.com.

Poker Business

Another Online Gambling Boom?

A new article at Ad Age Digital examines the advertising implications associated with online gambling legalization, most notably that it could lead to an industry boom.

Simon Holliday, director at H2 Gambling Capital, believes "somewhere between $3.5 billion and $4 billion could be spent by the internet-gaming sector" on marketing over the next five years. To put that in perspective, that's more than General Motors spent on advertising in the United States in 2011. "Driving players to their sites is the biggest single cost of these companies. It is probable that 25% to 30% of company net revenues [20% less than the gross including bonuses] will be spent on advertising and marketing budgets in the initial years, as there is a land grab."

"Five years ago, the combined spend of all onsite-based gaming companies in online advertising was very small, limited to SEO for attracting visitors to book hotel rooms online and to come to the website," said Mitch Garber, CEO of Caesars Interactive Entertainment and World Series of Poker. "It's changing dramatically. ... There's no question that as an industry we'll be spending more time and money on interactive advertising."

Television is still considered the best outlet for advertising, but as Garber added, "We're not going to do away with magazine, TV and billboard advertising, but we'll be a lot more creative."

To read the entire article, visit Ad Age Digital.

Ceasars Takes an Optimal Line

Online poker in Nevada is making headway as Optimal Payments, a London payment provider, has signed a deal with Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE). Under the agreement, Optimal Payments will supply CIE with services related to payment processing, fraud management and related services once CIE goes live with online poker in Nevada.

"This is a ground breaking deal for Optimal Payments and demonstrates our ability to provide real value to globally renowned, land-based gaming operators and their leading brands, as the first step in our strategy to capitalize on the regulated U.S. market" said Joel Leonoff, President & CEO of Optimal Payments.

Caesars Interactive Entertainment has already applied for an interactive online gaming operating license in Nevada and is waiting to meet with gaming regulators for approval. The license would allow Caesars to offer online poker to Nevada residents as an operator of online gaming. The Gaming Control Board anticipates online poker to be active in early 2013.

Earlier this year, CIE partnered with 888.com in a deal that will see 888 provide its gaming platform to CIE. "Utilizing 888's state of the art poker platform, the agreement will allow the launch of a real money offering immediately as either federal or state based regulation is finalized and upon licensing by gaming authorities," 888 said in a statement.

For more, read the press release at SacBee.com.

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