Emerging poker ambassador, 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event Champ Greg Merson took some time right before he’s set to go to Las Vegas for the 2014 WSOP, to talk with Substance.com about his well-documented past battles with a myriad of drugs.
Coke, weed, booze – Merson’s used it all and it took some time for him to hit rock bottom.
I started using when I was 17, it developed very rapidly, and I was doing cocaine within six months of my first time trying marijuana. Coke was my drug of choice until I was 19 and got sober for the first time. I felt like I had hit rock bottom at the time—failing out of school, always being broke from my habit and losing touch with reality.
With the help of his friends and family, Merson fought to sober up and stay clean including a stint in rehab and a regiment of NA meetings. He also attributes a dedication to Yoga as an activity that helps him curb the cravings.
But for Merson it was poker that saved his life.
But poker is the number one reason I stay sober. I love to compete and money is just a way of keeping score. I could care less if I made $50,000 a year or $1 million. I just like to compete at a high level and I’m fortunate to be able to make a good living because of it. I love the game as much as I did when I was 16 and played for the first time. I don’t spend 70 hours a week married to the game like I used to, however. My life is much more balanced and I play about 30 hours a week during trips to Macau or Vegas. Those trips are for poker business only but can reach to the 50-to-70-hour range when I’m really fresh and the games are good. I try to push myself hard when the games call for long hours.
In the world of high-stakes poker, there’s temptation at every turn. As for if there is a good deal of drug and alcohol abuse in poker.
Tons, tons, tons. These guys have no boss, a lot of extra income and flat out just time to kill. Drugs become a much more fun way to waste time. Someone who plays poker suffering from addiction needs to use all the resources available and find out which source of recovery works best for them.
Merson goes on to talk about how families can assist with addicts in their family, things he does outside of poker and even a couple of the perks he’s spent some of his money on. It’s a very nice interview giving fans a glimpse into one of the best WSOP Champions of the past 10 years. Check it out:
Bonus: If you like what you read and have a TON of extra cash, there’s always this…