WSOP.com Officially Announces Greg Merson Signing
The World Series of Poker certainly knows how to make an anti-climactic announcement. On Thursday, WSOP.com proclaimed that it has signed 2012 WSOP Main Event Champion Greg Merson to be the online poker site’s first Brand Ambassador. Good thing they let us know because we already knew that.
The old news goes back to mid-July when someone on Two Plus Two questioned Merson’s online poker habits. During the course of several weeks prior to that thread, Merson had posted pictures of himself playing at WSOP.com. Someone noticed that he had at one point been using the screen name “Toddmcshay” (named after the ESPN NFL draft guru) and later changed to the simple handle “GregMerson.” The original Two Plus Two poster wondered if Merson could have been multi-accounting, which is against the rules of online poker sites, so he posed the question to the poker community.
A couple days later, Merson responded, probably breaking the news of his signing with WSOP.com earlier than intended. “My name change was due to signing with WSOP.com and apologize if that wasn’t more clear by my tweets and Instagram,” he said. “Since the name change I have not played on my other screen as it has been terminated afaik.”
WSOP.com Head of Online Poker Bill Rini chimed in to confirm that Merson had not played on his old “Toddmcshay” account after creating the new one and that the old screen name had been deleted.
All of this came shortly after Merson had posted a series of curious tweets that made people wonder if he had some sort of connection to the WSOP. Of course, winning the World Series of Poker Main Event might make someone fiercely loyal to the series, but these tweets were strange. To set the stage, the $10,000 WSOP Main Event’s three starting flights ran July 5-7 and its two Day 2’s were July 8-9. At the same time, the World Poker Tour held a $565 tournament at ARIA called WPT500 with five starting flights spanning July 4-9. Merson apparently saw the WPT’s scheduling as an affront to the World Series of Poker and took great offense. He posted on Twitter, “Can’t breath [sic] on partypoker/WPT trying to step on the toes of the WSOP main event. Of course you can play both but very disrespectful IMO.”
He added, “The main event is our Super Bowl, save your 5 day re-entry money grab for another date,” continuing, “Just a desperate attempt by a company trying to hold onto a glimmer of the spotlight as they have continued to slid since 2006 #showers”
Merson was essentially the only person who had a problem with the WPT500, somehow not able to see that the low buy-in tournament would have absolutely no negative effect on the WSOP. The poker community had a bit of a laugh about it and it quickly blew over. Not long thereafter, Merson confirmed in the aforementioned Two Plus Two thread that he was sponsored by WSOP.com, which may explain his Twitter vitriol.
It was not until yesterday, though, that WSOP.com officially made the announcement, making it in conjunction with the celebration of the one-year anniversary of WSOP.com’s launch in Nevada (which is today).
“It has been a year full of excitement, with plenty of lessons learned,” said Bill Rini. “Most importantly for the game’s long-term health, the technology and the regulations have worked as intended. We have established a solid foundation for this recently-regulated digital form of entertainment in the United States, and remain fully-committed and bullish on the long-term prospects of the business.”
As for Merson, Rini said, “Greg is a terrific ambassador for the game of poker. He loves the game, is passionate and opinionated about its future, and he will help us spread the word about our offerings and ensure the poker playing community has a respected, experienced voice to help shape WSOP.com moving forward.”
Merson currently lives in New Jersey and thus has been playing on that state’s version of WSOP.com. The site is one of three viable online poker rooms in the Garden State, currently ranking second according to PokerScout.com with a seven-day average of 120 cash game players. The Party Borgata Network, which just experienced a major public relations hit when it had to cancel the Main Event of its Garden State Super Series because of technical difficulties, is the market leader with 150 cash game players. The All American Poker Network is third with 60 cash game players. Ultimate Poker also operates in New Jersey, but PokerScout shows its traffic as essentially non-existent.