Wearing O's jersey, Laurel's Merson wins $8.5 million in World Series of Poker

The Orioles got some love in the unlikeliest of places.

Laurel resident Greg Merson won the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas early this morning, claiming the top prize of just over $8.5 million at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. His victory was broadcast on a 15-minute delay on ESPN (the delay was necessary to protect the integrity of the tournament, according to a press release).

Merson WSOP Orioles.jpgAnd he did it wearing an Orioles jersey, as this photo from Joe Giron of WSOP-Poker News clearly shows. What the photo doesn't clearly show is that the 24-year-old former University of Maryland student is wearing an Adam Jones replica jersey, festooned with patches from his poker sponsors.

Three-handed play - the final three players in what started as a nine-person final table in the Main Event - began Tuesday evening and ran almost 11 hours. At one point, Merson took a break to check on hurricane damage in his native Maryland, according to television commentators.

Merson credits poker with saving his life after he developed a drug habit while attending college. Today's prize was his second seven-figure haul at this year's World Series of Poker. Merson also triumphed in a six-handed no-limit hold-'em tournament this summer that yielded $1.1 million.

"I've played a lot of long cash games in my career, which helps you prepare for something like this, but this whole stage is something you can't ever really prepare for," Merson said in a tournament-issued press release. "I couldn't feel better for everyone who I'm sharing this victory with."

Merson, who tearfully placed his gold bracelet on the wrist of his mother, had some high-powered rooters in his corner. Jones, who is spending the beginning of the offseason in his native San Diego, sent this tweet to Merson two days ago: "Best of luck @Gregy20723 in the #WSOP. #FinalTable. Bring home the mula."

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