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ALL IN with Evan Jarvis: Greg Merson

  • ALL IN: Evan Jarvis sits down with 2012 WSOP Player of the Year Greg Merson.

From small stakes to the big picture, HUDs to MTTs to ETFs, this episode covers it all, as Evan goes ALL INwith his former roommate: the one and only Greg Merson.

With his legendary WSOP heater in 2012, Greg Merson catapulted himself into the poker spotlight, winning the $10k 6-max, the Main Event, and Player of the Year honors.

But his breakout was no fluke: Greg Merson is one of poker’s biggest grinders and sharpest minds--a “perpetual 24-tabler,” few can match Merson’s appetite for the game.

In this in-depth conversation, Greg offers a rare peek behind the curtain, as he recounts his 16-hour sessions, his battles with addiction, the importance of friendship, and how getting stiffed for $100k fueled his WSOP bracelet win.

Show Time Stamps

0:15Evan introduces Greg Merson
3:35Greg joins the show
5:40How Greg discovered poker: "I guess I just saw it on ESPN...and then the first time I played was with my brother's friends. I didn't know what beat what."
6:31Greg reads Phil Hellmuth's "Play Poker Like the Pros": "Just reading that put me way ahead of the kids I was playing against."
7:41Greg's early bankroll building: "I didn't really know what my plan was, it's not like I thought I would be playing online poker at the time."
9:20Poker and drug use: "I don't really remember too much of my early partypoker days because those were mixed with so much drug use."
10:29Early MTTs and Pocket Fives: "I started following the rankings and JohnnyBax was the #1-ranked player back then."
11:49Greg overcoming early struggles finding his poker niche: "All of a sudden out of nowhere, something just clicked for me with six-max."
14:11How Greg challenges conventional actions to stay unpredictable: "If we're all thinking the same, we aren't thinking at all."
16:48All the raises: the “Five Slide” and the “Crispy Six”
19:10Early HUD use & 24-tabling: "I ended up not using a HUD for all of 2009, and most of 2010, and that's when I really climbed the stakes."
22:03Greg's sick call-down at the Bellagio $10-$20-$40 game
24:48Adderall and poker: "It ended up hurting my growth considerably, and I didn't really use it that long."
27:18The drawbacks of stimulants: "When my brain shuts down, I just need to stop playing. It's okay."
27:44A lesson Greg learned in Macau about fatigue
31:18How to know when to quit a session and when to fight through one: "I think just over the years I've gotten better at actually quitting...(but) if you're just always quitting...then you're never pushing yourself to fight through any adversity."
32:24Greg break downs good tilt vs bad tilt: "Sometimes, I'm on good tilt, where I have that image that I'm really tilted but I'm just ramping up the aggression in a somewhat-controlled way."
33:02Greg's 2012 grind & "punishment days": "If I have a bad day or bad showing or bad session, I'll punish myself the next day and force myself to play lower."
34:29How Greg's off-table work keeps him fresh: "I've done so much work on my mental game in the last 18 months."
35:29Arthritis and changes in Greg's diet: "I put my best foot forward to get the micro-nutrients in to play better."
36:49How Greg brings it every day: "My durability is my best attribute as a player."
39:11The Big One for One Drop ($1 million tournament): "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
41:11Greg's "big picture" mentality: "I love playing so much...that's why I'm comfortable playing smaller than I'm used to."
42:56Sponsor: Gripsed Poker Training
43:42What Greg learned battling high stakes head to head in 2011: "I was more driven by the fact that I had spent three years amassing a bankroll through getting Supernova Elite without actually getting that much better at the game."
46:37Cash Games vs. Tournaments: "I have so much respect for the tournament players. The variance is even worse now with the edges getting smaller."
52:19Why you should take chances to scale your net worth in your 20s and 30s: "Taking the occasional shot breaks up the monotony of grinding."
56:57Goal-setting with money: "So much of it is out of your control."
59:19Why an expensive view is worth the EV: "I wanted to wake up and be inspired every day to work that much harder."
01:01:50Why Greg is waiting to get his sports car: "I want to have something to look forward to later in life and not just have it all right away."
01:02:41Greg on building a financial legacy & investing without advisers: "I'm kinda driven by the fact that I want my last name to have a legacy where I can pass on everything that I've learned from investing."
01:05:20What grandparents taught Greg about what matters: "I just feel the energy from them that nothing matters besides your family and the ones you care about."
01:06:43Greg on introversion and managing energy: "I definitely close myself off of opportunities to hang out with people because I know it's going to significantly drain me."
01:10:06The importance of hobbies and fitness: "Just getting in the gym in general has helped me so much with giving me something to do."
01:12:02Greg's introduction to meditation
01:13:03Experience with chiropractic healing: "Being able to talk to somebody about whatever is definitely key."
01:14:35Why Greg wouldn't want his kids to get into poker: "As much as I love the game...I just wouldn't want anybody to have to go through all these highs and lows."
01:15:05The top ways that good players go broke
01:15:59Risks of Cryptocurrency: "I kinda think the whole craze with cryptocurrency is going to end up hurting a lot of people."
01:18:00Greg remembers moving into Tony Gregg's house: "It really was the perfect storm for me."
01:20:05The thrill of climbing the online cash game stakes for the first time: "I've always just been fascinated by the online cash game scene. I don't think there ever will be (more fun) than climbing the first couple stakes and how difficult it is to break through the next level."
01:21:49Greg on the sacrifice it takes to reach the elite: "If you want to be really good at something, you're just naturally not going to be balanced."
01:22:20The increasing role of math and theory in poker: "In the last few years, my strategy with poker has changed quite a bit."
01:23:08Greg on limited use of poker software: "I've gotten into it a little bit lately and am actually really enjoying it, but I would rather just be playing poker or doing something else. I'm doing it as a means to survive."
01:25:06The 2012 "Pro Bowl" of Poker: "The Pro Bowl was the $10k Six-Max...winning that tournament was a dream come true."
01:26:42The old days, pre-software: "Those were fun days, where you weren't relying on these different softwares so much."
01:29:17How bluffing has changed in the modern game: "It's so detrimental to your win rate when you punt off, and people aren't doing it back to you."
01:30:01Greg comments on current trend towards tight play: "If you want to do well, you just have to be so much more in-line these days."
01:31:27The problem with re-entry tournaments: "It is nice to feel free and just go after all the chip-EV spots on Day 1...but I think it's very short-sighted for the longevity of the game, and it's made tournament poker a lot worse."
01:31:46 Sponsor: 888poker[/URL] (Use the promo code "ALLIN" when you make your first deposit)
01:32:55Greg on looking forward to having a family
01:36:19Managing energy and socializing as an introvert: "I've always been really bad at reaching out. It's kinda weird."
01:39:52Greg on giving advice about substance abuse over social media DMs: "If someone reaches out to me on any platform asking for advice on drug stuff, I'm pretty much always responding to them."
01:44:55Balancing addiction and a career in gambling: "You know that you have that demon inside of you...that's why I love speaking to these people when they reach out, because I completely understand."
01:47:59On diet and weight loss: "It's just so easy to say no when it's not worth whatever short-term gratification you're going to get for it."
01:50:00Evan and Greg talk addiction and self-medicating
01:51:59Greg on earning back his parents' trust after his battles with addiction: "They did a really good job of making me earn the trust back but at the same time not making me feel ashamed."
01:55:41The PokerNews Podcast Network is available on audioBoom.
01:56:49The story of Evan and Greg getting stiffed for $100,000 at a cash game
01:59:30How getting stiffed spurred Greg's WSOP run: "That's one of the things I was thinking about when I won, I'm not even kidding."
02:01:55Greg on getting stiffed again for $40,000: "The more recent one hurt a lot more because I was giving a ton of action to the guy who stiffed me."
02:02:53Why Greg misses being all-in multiple times a day
02:04:50Greg's heater before the World Series of Poker: "I just felt super-confident. I felt like it was more validated than some other players before me, or even after me."
02:06:51How Greg would prepare differently for the WSOP final table: "I definitely would've understood ICM better. I would've done way more research to find out what pieces people had of themselves."
02:08:58The experience of final-tabling with a crew: "It was awesome, just all the enthusiasm and having a team rooting for you."
02:11:26Why Greg continued to have backers after his $10k Six-Max win: "I was just appreciative of him giving me the opportunity in the first place, and I wanted to really make good."
02:14:12Evan on the deeper connection that builds through swaps
02:15:42Greg on motivating role of Tony Gregg: "It's like a healthy competition, it's something to chase, I look up to him."
02:18:54Evan on the seven habits of highly effective people
02:20:16Why Greg doesn't want to travel for poker anymore: "I don't think I'm going to do any trips besides playing Borgata in January."
02:22:55Investment tips from 'Moneyman' Merson: "I would set aside a portion of your check that you're comfortable acting like is not there."
02:27:12Greg's advice to people struggling with addiction: "Just get through one day. Try getting through one day and then be honest with yourself about how difficult it is for you to get through one day."
02:29:23How to deal with relapses: "I just had six years clean and I don't take that for granted...I know I have so much to lose, not just money."
02:31:52Greg's advice to his younger self: "I would say that for all the traveling I did earlier in my career, to actually enjoy some of that."
02:35:18Evan and Greg discuss meditation
02:40:11The challenges of meditation in a world full of stimulation and advertising: "I'm very lucky that I don't get exposed too much to the advertisements."
02:44:22Greg considers what a career in poker would be like with kids: "I actually don't really need to grind."

Learn more about podcast host, Evan Jarvis, on his coaching site, Gripsed Poker Training. Follow Evan on Twitter.

Subscribe to ALL IN with Evan Jarvis on iTunes. The entire PokerNews Podcast family of podcasts is now available on audioBoom.

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