Jason Mercier Talks to Flushdraw
The name “Jason Mercier” comes attached with a lot of preconceptions. Whether you’ve read interviews with the Floridian poker player, or seen him interviewed on-camera, he makes an impression. It’s not always an impression that either he or his sponsor (PokerStars) may be happy with, but Jason is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in poker, and that fame hasn’t always sat well with him.
I caught up with Jason at the PokerStars London EPT, being run in association with the Hippodrome Casino London, just before he was due to head to the tournament room to start Day 1A.
I started off by congratulating him on his recent cash at an event in Florida, calling it a “decent cash.” Jason smiled and replied “It all depends on what you call a decent cash!”
I hadn’t had my morning coffee yet, so my mouth was on autopilot and I heard myself say “For me, it’s anything that puts money in my pocket!” My smart mouth and lack of caffeine was either going to get this interview off to a horrible start, or break the ice. Luckily for me, Jason and I both started laughing, and we started the interview proper.
The cash I was talking about was a 22nd place for Mercier at Coconut Creek in Florida. In was in a $2,500 buy in event, and Jason picked up $7,000, an almost negligible amount for a player used to seeing amounts of that size as blinds. The ice well and truly broken, we started to talk about Mercier’s WCOOP results.
Mercier: “WCOOP went pretty well, not tournaments but cash. I stayed in the Dominican Republic for the first time. I went down there with a buddy of mine, stayed for ten days on a resort. I played most of the WCOOP; I played all the big [events]. I didn’t do very well in those, but every time I busted out of a WCOOP event I hopped in some cash games, and that made the trip fairly profitable.”
FlushDraw: Were the cash games that much better than usual?
Mercier: “I think there were a lot more games running, especially games I wanted to play, all because of WCOOP. There were a lot more mixed games running, 8-Game and even triple-draw games that are able to run because a lot more people are online during WCOOP.
FlushDraw: You’ve been in town a couple of days, and you played the £5K PLO here earlier in the festival. How’d that work out for you?
Mercier: “The £5,000 PLO, I ended getting knocked out early on Day 2, in like 16th place; seven people got paid. It was a pretty good turn out. 52 people in a £5k PLO event, and it was a couple of days before the Main Event, so not everyone was in town. I was pleased with the turnout, and the event went well, apart from the bustout. I had a decent chance to go deep, but things just didn’t work out.
FlushDraw: With you being sponsored by PokerStars, and living in Florida, how does that work for you?
Mercier: “It’s funny because before Black Friday, when I was home I’d play online, and when I was on the road I’d play live. Now, it’s pretty much when I’m home it’s vacation time, and when I’m on the road I’m working, whether I’m playing online or live. I try and make the most of my time at home, and try and spend time with my family and friends and get things done away from poker.”
FlushDraw: Obviously, you play live in Florida, so how do you think the Florida scene is?
Mercier: It’s pretty much something I dip into every so often. There’s not any high-stakes mixed games or too many cash games that peaked my interest. I’m rarely playing cash while I’m there. I’ll play the biggest tournaments when they run, but generally I’m not playing too much poker while I’m in Florida.
FlushDraw: Now that we have a two-time EPT champ, do you think we’ll see some of the older EPT champs coming back out of the woodwork?
Mercier: “I think that now Vicky has the second title, everyone’s not all about the headlines. I think that there are a lot of people with one title who still play there, and you’ll see the second two-time winner soon, and hopefully it’s me!”
FlushDraw: Is that still something that drives you? You want your second EPT title?
“Mercier: Yeah, definitely. My first EPT win pretty much the second tournament I ever played — well, the second big event anyway. I’ve played a lot of EPT since, and every one I play and don’t win makes me hungrier to win the next one.”
FlushDraw: As a member of the high-stakes fraternity, what do you think about the recent comments from Dan Cates about Tom Dwan and the durrrr Challenge?
Mercier: “It doesn’t really have too much of an impact on me. I’m aware of what’s going on, but I don’t know all the details so I don’t want to comment on who’s right or wrong. To me, it seems that JungleMan [Cates] has a pretty good case, and it’s tough if someone doesn’t have the money to play a challenge. I don’t know durrrr’s financial situation, so I can’t really comment.”
FlushDraw: Away from poker, how is Jason Mercier enjoying poker? Are you happy? Is life going well for you, or are you still trying to achieve that work/life balance?
Mercier: “I’m still trying to get everything in order and figure out how life is going to be. I’m turning 28 years old next month. If you asked me ten years ago where I thought I’d be when I was 28, I would have thought I’d be married with a couple of kids. That’s pretty much the thing that I think is missing from my life, you know? Finding the right girls and getting married and starting a family. Aside from that my life is pretty great. I’m able to do what I love and travel the world and have plenty of free time to explore whatever I want to do. I feel that it’s the one thing missing from my life, and I’m hoping in the next couple of years I’ll be starting a family.”
. . . .
I’m not often surprised when I interview somebody. I always make sure to do as much research as I can before I ask my first question. It’s something I consider part of my job and has always paid dividends, allowing me to guide interviews and conversations. Even with this research on Jason Mercier, I hadn’t picked him as a potential family man, and I hope my jaw didn’t hit the coffee table when he told me. I know from being a step-grandfather how rewarding family can be. I wish him all the luck in achieving his goals, both of a family and a second EPT title, and I wouldn’t bet against him getting either or both in fairly short order.