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24 year old Greg Merson went from being a straight-A student in high school to dropping out of the University of Maryland (in 2007) for his addiction to cocaine. Now a recovering cocaine, Adderall and OxyContin addict he’s a champion.

Merson, a pro for five years, relapsed into drug and alcohol addiction last year and squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars in poker winnings. This was a great comeback for him.

“He’s been through a lot, and a lot of people have told him he wouldn’t make it at poker…So this was definitely a ‘prove them wrong’ kind of experience,” said Stan Merson (Greg’s father).

In speaking to the Baltimore Sun when asked about his past addictions Greg admitted that if he didn’t quit he’d “…possibly not be alive right now, and that’s no exaggeration. I never want to do any of that ever, literally ever,’ he said.

‘I don’t know where I’d be, if I’d even be alive, if I didn’t have this passion,’ he said.

His addictions and stint in rehab led him to play poker professionally. Although at first he played to support his habit he eventually went pro and the rest is history.

Greg beat eight other players in a 12-hour marathon (with only 10 min breaks every 2 hours) that ended on Wednesday morning.

‘This whole stage is nothing you could ever prepare for,’ he told CBS News. ‘I feel pretty good — got all the tears out so now I feel relaxed.’

Greg now joins former champions Doyle Drunson, Phil Hellmuth and Johnny Clan in the wall of fame. He snatched the 8.5 million first place prize and an additional $100,000 gold bracelet and Player of the Year honors.



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