Jason Mercier Departs Team PokerStars Pro

The end of any calendar year marks the renewal point for many sponsored-pro contracts with prominent online-poker sites. Each year, a handful of partnerships come to an end, and that’s the case today with long-time Team PokerStars Pro member Jason Mercier, who in conjunction with Stars has announced his departure from an ambassador role for the site.

Mercier’s exit, effective as of the end of 2017, ends a lengthy eight-and-a-half-year deal between the two. Mercier joins fellow American pro Vanessa Selbst in ending his association with PokerStars as 2017 ended, and Mercier, like Selbst, appears to have departed the Stars lineup on very amicable terms.

Jason Mercier – 2016 WSOP POY
Image credit: WSOP.com / Jamie Thomson

Mercier associated his departure from the Stars brand with his absence from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, which he’s missing this year for the first time in nearly a decade. New father Jason and his wife, the former Natasha Barbour, have their hands full with their three-month-old son, Marco, and the desire to devote time and energy to his new family life played into Mercier’s decision as well.

Mercier wrote about these and other considerations in a guest post appearing on PokerStars’ online blog, where he wrote, in part:

… After my son was born, I knew things were going to be different. One of the major things to address was my relationship with PokerStars. My contract was set to expire at the end of 2017, and I wasn’t sure what exactly was going to happen there. I had a lot of questions rolling around my head. Do I even want to travel now? How much can I travel? Should I continue playing poker so much? How’s it going to be on the road with a baby? Does PokerStars want me to do more? Is my wife going to continue to play poker? DO WE NEED A FULL TIME NANNY!!??

As the end of the year approached, I delayed my inevitable contract discussion with my liaison at Stars. When my wife and I got married, and then when she became pregnant, we initially thought we would continue to travel even with a baby, at least for a year or two.

So I tried to think about all these questions and decide what was best.

As I thought more and more over the days and weeks, the answer seemed simple. This was probably going to be the end of my relationship with PokerStars, and the end of my full time travel schedule.

The conversation about my contract was short and sweet. There were no hard feelings and there never would or could be. I was a PokerStars Pro for eight and a half wonderful years. I’m forever grateful that they took a chance on me when I was just a 22-year-old kid who had just captured his first gold bracelet in the summer of 2009. There were times when I thought I might be a PokerStars Pro for the rest of my life… hey, a kid can dream can’t he? Thank you to all of the wonderful people I worked with at PokerStars, your support and friendship has been invaluable. …

Mercier sprang into the poker world’s awareness by dominating the final table at the PokerStars-sponsored 2008 EPT San Remo championship. This first major live tournament cash was a head-turner, worth €869,000, or about US $1,372,893. He was signed by PokerStars to a deal soon after, and it worked out fine: Mercier turned out to have some serious poker skills, as he’s gone on to win a slew of major titles, including five WSOP bracelets. His $18.56 million in recorded live-tournament wins ranks him 15th on the global career list.

Not a bad decade; he’s probably earned some time off. With his eight and a half years wearing Stars patches, Mercier was the third-longest-contracted US player on Team PokerStars Pro, trailing only Barry Greenstein and Chris Moneymaker.

Mercier’s amicable departure from Stars, his general update personality, and his continued poker successes mean he might be approached by other sites — if he’s available for any sort of that stuff in the near future.

It’s also possible that their might be more to the story. Neither Mercier nor the other recent departee from the Stars lineup, Selbst, would have come cheap, and despite their global recognition, their greatest value would still come from the US market, which Stars has still been unable to crack beyond the borders of New Jersey. Both Mercier and Selbst were utilized by PokerStars in the lobbying battle surrounding online-poker legislation in California, which ended stalemated and with Stars still on the outside, looking in.

It’s even possible that Stars could have proposed a continuation of the sponsorship deals, but with greatly reduced benefits, thereby making it quite easy for both Selbst and Mercier to walk away. Continuing with this line of conjecture, there’s also the likelihood that Stars could re-sign both players at some point down the road, if the US’s online-poker market opens up again in a larger way, and if that way includes Stars Group services in multiple states.

Closing off the deal in very friendly terms might then make perfect sense to everyone involved, with the mutual hopes that the US-based online future will be brighter to PokerStars a bit more down the road. In the meantime, though, Mercier has had his own great run as a Stars-patched pro.

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