Jason Mercier is back. The 31-year old poker superstar became a father after last year’s World Series of Poker and played just a handful of days until we spotted him in the $100,000 High Roller event on Day 1. We caught up with Mercier to talk about his new life as a father, shaking off the rust and his excitement of being back on the felt.
To put Mercier’s results into context to this point, he’s tied with Daniel Alaei for most bracelets by a player under the age of 40 with five, winning his first back in 2009. Mercier added another in 2011, one in 2015 and two in 2016 to put himself just one behind Daniel Negreanu. Additionally, since the start of Negreanu’s $25,000 Fantasy League, Mercier has gathered the most total points with 997, ahead of John Monette (980), Phil Hellmuth (972), Daniel Negreanu (892) and Justin Bonomo (838).
|Jason Mercier’s Five Bracelet Wins|
|2009||$ 1,500 Pot Limit Omaha||809||$ 237,462|
|2011||$ 5,000 Pot Limit Omaha – Six Handed||507||$ 619,575|
|2015||$ 5,000 No Limit Hold’em Six Handed||550||$ 633,357|
|2016||$ 10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship||171||$ 422,874|
|2016||$ 10,000 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship||100||$ 273,335|
Talking about his absence from the game, it’s no surprise that becoming a father is the best possible reason to spend more time at home.
“Dad life from poker life is very different. My daily routine when I’m not playing over is completely different than when I am and I haven’t played much poker over the last 11 months. Since the World Series of Poker last year, I probably played a few events in Florida. I came to Vegas once for three days to play cash and did no other trips.”
Mercier’s paternity leave from the game immediately became the longest break he’s ever taken from since taking it up seriously more than a decade ago. It’d be easy to think that Mercier might want to ease back into things, but that would be a big underestimation of the 19th ranked player on poker’s all-time money list, who dropped eight spots during his absence.
“I’ve played some mixed games yesterday and it felt like I was shaking off the rust with each hand that I played. But it comes back quickly, it’s just like riding a bike.”
Watch the story of Jason Mercier poker life in the PokerGO Original series Pokerography.
While perhaps needing a few more orbits to get rid of some rust, Mercier doesn’t have the pressure he usually carries into the summer with regards to the huge bracelet bets he’s been previously known for, and he talks about the mental relief this provides.
“I just want to be able to spend time with my son. There have been so many times where I’ve had bets on the line and I’ve busted tournaments and just wanted to go to bed, and I can’t imagine not going back to see my kid over entering some $1,500 Stud event after busting a 10k.”
Mercier’s taking it far easier with his schedule, focusing mostly on the bigger buy-in events such as the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha, 2-7 Triple and Single Draw and $50,000 Player’s Championship along with the occasional high stakes cash game session.
“I feel like I’m ready to play. Yesterday I played mixed cash for 17 hours straight till 6:30 am. The game started as $400/$800 and then became $600/$1,200. Later I jumped into a $2k/$4k game when a seat opened up.”
The Florida native is playing every day during the World Series of Poker, and it was never an option to not play during poker’s peak season. Mercier wife, Natasha, also plays poker professionally and started her quest for a bracelet as soon as they landed, hoping to improve on the second and third place finishes she collected in 2015 and 2016.
With a new condo and a babysitter on standby 24/7, the most important thing is taken care off, and they can spend some time on the felt to do what they do best.
“I’m happy to be in Vegas, and happy to be back at the World Series. I look forward to seeing if I still got it. I’m going to be a little rusty but I think I’m going to perform well. I’m used to playing long sessions on little sleep, and even more so with now with the baby screaming in my face sometimes,” Mercier joked.
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