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Greg Merson Defends His Views on WPT500

Greg Merson recently took to his Facebook page to clear the air about comments he made previously regarding the World Poker Tour holding a $500 buy-in tournament at the Aria earlier this month just down the street from the WSOP Main Event that was getting underway at the Rio.

The 2012 WSOP Main Event champ’s Facebook posting was in reference to statements he made several weeks ago in which he felt that the WPT was “trying to step on the toes” of WSOP’s most prestigious tournament. Merson used terms such as “money grab” and “desperate attempt” in describing the WPT’s staging of a much cheaper buy-in event perhaps in an effort to siphon some players from the ME.

That led to WPT Tournament Director Matt Savage apologizing, but clearly stating that the intent was not to steal players nor the spotlight from the WSOP. Savage pointed out that the start of the inaugural WPT500 was changed “out of respect for the Little One for Orop,” a WSOP event with a $1,000 entry fee, “as a $1K buy-in is too close to $500.”

A number of pro players disagreed with Merson and stood up for the WPT. Merson apparently felt compelled to address the issue once more and did so just a few days ago on social media.

Matt Savage is an incredible TD and we are lucky to have him in the industry,” Merson said. “Basically I think it’s very unlikely I would have fallen into poker without the boom in 2003 (or several of you) which was caused predominately by the main event. The main event blew up poker to another level and keeping the numbers strong for the main event is important for the industry as it continues to struggle without federal legalized online poker in the states.”

Merson, who just a little over a week ago confirmed the signing of a sponsorship deal with, went on to say that WPT scheduling could have been done a bit differently so that conflicts such as the one that occurred during the start of the WSOP Main Event don’t happen. He suggested that the three major poker tours work together in order to better serve the poker community.

To poach the traffic for the biggest event of the year was a little grimy,” Merson opined. “Lets see how they would feel about WSOP putting a $500 bracelet event the same days and in same city as there WPT championship. How come WPT couldn’t just start this tournament on day 2 of the main?”

Merson estimated that the issue may be over only about 20 or so players who may have skipped the WSOP Main Event. While that is not a significant amount considering the thousands who enter the ME, it still comes to $200,000 in prize money, he reasoned.

We can’t have tours fighting over the same players,” the 26-year-old stated. “We need them to work together to not schedule stuff on the same dates so that fields are large which helps promote the game. OF COURSE competition is important for any industry to thrive and I liked the idea of the WPT 500. It was a great price point for players that can’t play a 10k to get in there and have a chance at a major title and a nice six figure score.”

The two-time WSOP bracelet winner said that he will continue to play in WPT events and already has the Borgata in September on his radar. Merson wanted an opportunity to “explain the reasoning” that led to his admonishment of the WPT and used his Facebook page to better explain his views, which, he said, “represent my thoughts and mine only.”

Merson won more than $8.5 million in WSOP’s Main Event in 2012. That followed a $1.1 million prize and his first gold bracelet just days before in another WSOP event featuring a $10,000 entry fee.



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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.