Portland-born poker player wins millions in WSOP - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland-born poker player wins millions in World Series of Poker

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Jake Balsiger watches the flop after an all-in bet during the World Series of Poker Final Table event, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Las Vegas. Balsiger won the hand and spiked his double. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) Jake Balsiger watches the flop after an all-in bet during the World Series of Poker Final Table event, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Las Vegas. Balsiger won the hand and spiked his double. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV/AP) -

A Portland native is $3.8 million richer thanks to a third-place finish in the World Series of Poker.

Jake Balsiger, now a senior at Arizona State University, was hoping to become the youngest World Series of Poker champion ever.

He was bounced from the tournament early Wednesday after just over 11 hours at the table.

Balsiger gambled his last chips with a queen-10, and found himself dominated by 24-year-old poker professional Greg Merson's king-queen.

Merson's hand held through the community cards, forcing Balsiger to exit the tournament. Merson went on to defeat 26-year-old poker pro Jesse Sylvia for the $8.53 million prize in the no-limit Texas Hold'em game.

Balsiger was born in Portland, and says he wanted to play in the World Series of Poker since he was 13 years old, when he watched it on TV. He's studying political science at ASU.

"I have some homework due tomorrow, my Supreme Court class," Balsiger said. "I didn't do it last week because I was in a final table simulation, so my professor's probably not the happiest with me."

Even before Balsiger was eliminated, the players set a series record by pushing beyond 364 hands at the final table. Balsiger lost on hand 382, while Sylvia lost on hand 399.

All three players traded chips, big bluffs and shocking hands during their marathon run.

"It was kind of swinging emotionally," Sylvia said. "Thinking that you're going to be heads-up and then to make something on the river, and think you're going to be heads up and someone else hits something."

They started play Tuesday night having already outlasted six others at a final table that began on Monday. But they refused to give in with roughly $4.8 million on the line - the difference between first and third place.

"This is exciting," Balsiger told his tablemates as the game played out as part mental sparring, part plain luck.

Finally, Merson claimed the title and put his name alongside former champions including Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth and Johnny Chan.

Copyright 2012 KPTV (Meredith Corporation.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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