Posts Tagged ‘Jason’

Jason Mercier Leaves Team PokerStars Pro

 Jason Mercier Leaves Team PokerStars Pro

Another American poker pro has left Team PokerStars, as Jason Mercier has announced his departure from his role as a site ambassador. As with fellow pro Vanessa Selbst, Mercier’s stint with PokerStars was effective at the end of 2017.

In a blog post on PokerStars’ website, Mercier explained that the reason for his decision – his contract with PokerStars was up at the end of 2017 and he had to think about what to do about renewal – revolved completely around his family and his newborn child.

His son, Marco Henry, was born three months ago. As any parent knows, having a child changes one’s life and priorities immediately. Said Mercier:

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!!??

Mercier said he “delayed my inevitable contract discussion” with PokerStars, but as the end of the year drew near, he realized it was time to call it quits. He needed to stop traveling full time and be home with his family.

While I have never been and never will be in the sort of position Mercier is in as an extremely successful poker pro, I did make a somewhat similar decision with my career in the poker world, though on a much smaller scale. When I started out in poker, I covered the WSOP live in Las Vegas in both 2005 and 2006. In 2006, my wife was pregnant with our first child, who was born that October. The following year, this site’s ownership (different ownership than today) asked if I could cover the WSOP again. I said no, as I did not want to leave my wife and infant, especially since my wife worked full-time. While I missed being at the Rio, it really wasn’t a difficult decision, and fortunately, my boss was onboard with it.

“The conversation about my contract was short and sweet,” Mercier wrote. “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.”

At the end of the blog post, Stephen Bartley of the PokerStars Blog staff, added a footnote from the site. He briefly described how they had met Mercier and how one thing that stuck out about him was that “he came across as a man who valued nothing more than the trappings of his family, and his friends.”

“So it was not really surprising to hear that it was his wife Natasha, and young son Marco took priority over a poker career at this stage of his life,” Bartley wrote. “The pride he takes in being a father and husband is clear for anyone to see. So while he’ll be missed as a PokerStars regular, we pass on our thanks and best wishes to Jason and his family, and look forward to seeing him at a PokerStars event soon.”

Cover photo credit: WSOP.com / Jamie Thomson

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2017 PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event Day 4 – Final Table Determined, Kalidou Sow Leads Jason Wheeler, Michal Mrakes

 2017 PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event Day 4 – Final Table Determined, Kalidou Sow Leads Jason Wheeler, Michal Mrakes

Day 5 of the first and, as it will turn out, final PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event is in the books, setting up the final table for Monday night. The six men will be led by Kalidou Sow, who was able to bypass Jason Wheeler and Days 3 & 4 chip leader Michal Mrakes to take over the chip lead.

15 men came back on Sunday afternoon to the Casino Atrium Prague to decide who would be the main contenders for the final PokerStars Championship. Mrakes was the chip leader at the start of the day, the only player over the four million mark with his 4.945 million in chips. For his part, Wheeler was sitting a bit back in the pack with his 2.4 million in chips and Sow was definitely looking at an uphill climb with his 640,000 in chips.

Mrakes, who basically could do no wrong over the past two days of the tournament, didn’t come out of the gates making his best decisions. He four-bet Aleksandr Mordvinov to 390K but, after Mordvinov made it known he was serious with a five-bet all in, Mrakes quickly dropped his hand. Mrakes then gave some chips to both Alex Foxen and Gabriele Lepore to drop down to 4.175 million, still in the lead but not as much as previous.

Sow began his march to the top by knocking out Serhil Popovych. Popovych moved all in from under the gun and Sow looked down to find gold. He immediately called Popovych’s bet and tabled pocket Aces, more than good enough to take on Popovych’s pocket Jacks, and the six-high board that rolled out kept Sow in the lead, knocked off Popovych in 14th place and set Sow up with 1.55 million chips.

Surprisingly, instead of staying away from each other, Sow and Mrakes knocked heads in a critical hand. After Sow opened the betting and Mrakes (button) and Robert Heidorn (big blind) made the call, a 6-4-3 flop brought checks out of the shorter stacks. Mrakes fired off a 150K bet and Sow called after Heidorn folded. On a deuce turn, Sow once again check-called a bet from Mrakes, this time for 250K. When a J♠ came on the river (putting three spades on the board), Sow suddenly woke up and led out for 650K in chips. Mrakes made the call and immediately regretted it as Sow showed the A♠ 7♠ for the rivered nut flush as Mrakes could only muck his hand and let the million-chip stack go over to Sow.

This wasn’t the last time the duo would clash. Sow raised Mrakes’ big blind and, on an A-K-J flop, Mrakes check-called another bet out of Sow. The same thing happened on the turn and river, with Mrakes check-calling bets of 235K and 575K out of Sow, creating another million-chip pot. Once again, Sow had the goods, showing a Q-10 for the flopped Broadway straight. Mrakes could only shake his head and send his cards to the muck and the chips again to Sow.

Mrakes would right the ship eventually, knocking off Heidorn in 11th place, as Wheeler took over the chip lead while Sow and Mrakes were fighting with each other. He picked up a hefty two million chip pot against Colin Robinson to smash the seven million chip mark and, after Sow took down Foxen to reach five million and bring the final nine men to the unofficial final table, looked to carry some momentum as the chip leader. Once the action began at that nine-handed table, however, Sow took control.

Sow would knock off Mordvinov (ninth), Valentyn Shabelnyk (eighth) and Matas Cimbolas (seventh) to end his Sunday of poker with a flourish. That flourish will also allow him to start the six-handed final table on Monday afternoon with the chip lead:

1. Kalidou Sow, 8.135 million
2. Jason Wheeler, 8.1 million
3. Michal Mrakes, 5.01 million
4. Gabriele Lepore, 1.815 million
5. Colin Robinson, 1.425 million
6. Harry Lodge, 1.23 million

It looks as though the championship will be determined between Sow, Wheeler and Mrakes. Lepore, Robinson and Lodge need a great deal of help if they are going to make a run at the top and it may be a bit too much to ask for one of them to challenge for the title. Mrakes’ confidence took a bit of a hit on Sunday and Sow’s grew at the same time. The best bet to watch is Wheeler, who has been a steady, strong player throughout the tournament that has never been down the leaderboard too far.

The final table will resume play at 1PM Prague time (7AM Eastern Time) and the PokerStars Live! stream will pick up the action on delay one hour later. At the end of the rainbow for one of these six players will be the €775,000 and the final PokerStars Championship trophy ever.

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Jason Koon Wins 2016 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Main Event

 Jason Koon Wins 2016 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Main Event

I once played in a live poker tournament at the same table as my brother. I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to take his money and I sure as hell didn’t want him to take mine. I once got seated at the same table as my BOSS and proceeded to take his buy-in and all of his re-buys. I will admit, that was IMMENSELY satisfying, but still very uncomfortable (fortunately, he’s an awesome guy and cheered me on ringside at the final table). And these were just $ 100 tournaments, tops. Personally, I would never want to be going up against a friend heads-up for a million dollars. But that’s exactly what Jason Koon and Seth Davies did. And since they are pros and I am not, they enjoyed every minute of it.

Koon defeated Davies heads-up to win the 2016 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open (SHRPO) Main Event Tuesday, cashing for $ 1 million in the $ 5 million guaranteed tournament. The two were once roommates and remain close friends.

In his post-tournament interview, Koon said, “[Seth] and I were laughing about the opportunity, and the next thing you know, we’re sitting across the table from each other with the trophy sitting in between us, so it’s a really surreal moment.”

Davies called Koon his poker mentor, adding, “I’ve learned so much from him, just about how to grow as a person and as a poker player.”

Koon began the final table in third place with 3.595 million chips, putting him in solid shape to make a run at the top. Davies, fittingly was in fourth with 3.350 million. The turning point in the tournament for Koon came on Hand #59. He had already built up a chip lead, holding close to 3 million more chips than his nearest competitor just a few hands earlier, but it was this hand, based on the SHRPO live update, that really put him firmly in control of the tournament.

Roman Valerstein raised pre-flop to 175,000 chips, Koon three-bet to 300,000, and Paul Balzano took it up to 875,000 after some thought. Valerstein got out of the way, but Koon ended up going all-in, after which Balzano called – himself all-in, as well – for 3.345 million chips. Balzano’s hand was good – pocket Queens – but Koon’s pocket Kings were better. Nothing higher than a Jack appeared on the board and Balzano was out in seventh place. The huge pot grew Koon’s chip stack to 10.260 million, more than double that of his closest competitor.

Koon never looked back, going into heads-up against his buddy Davies with a 14.3 million to 11.1 million chip lead. It looked like Koon was going to win it quickly as he built up a sizable lead, but Davies came back and kept it competitive for a while. Koon was too much, though, eventually taking down the title after fewer than 40 heads-up hands. On the final hand, Koon raised pre-flop and called a re-raise all-in by Davies. Koon had A-8, Davies had Q-J. An Ace flopped and an 8 hit on the river for good measure, giving Koon the pot and all of the chips in the tournament.

2016 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Main Event – Final Table Results

1.    Jason Koon  –  $ 1,000,000
2.    Seth Davies  –  $ 575,000
3.    Tim Burt  –  $ 310,000
4.    Roman Valerstein  –  $ 220,000
5.    Tom Midena  –  $ 180,000
6.    Joe Serock  –  $ 150,000
7.    Paul Balzano  –  $ 125,000
8.    Ryan Fair  –  $ 100,000
9.    Zo Karim  –  $ 75,000

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Jason Mercier Wins 2016 WSOP POY

 Jason Mercier Wins 2016 WSOP POY

Since early on in the 2016 World Series of Poker, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Jason Mercier was going to claim the WSOP Player of the Year (POY) title and while he did, it was not until yesterday, that he could say the award was officially his. With Paul Volpe’s ouster from the 2016 WSOP Main Event on Day 6, Jason Mercier clinched the WSOP Player of the Year.

Mercier, to put it bluntly, was out of his mind during this World Series. He cashed eleven times and put the pressure on everyone else to try to catch him within just the first two weeks of the WSOP. In the span of a week, he won the $ 10,000 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship, was the runner-up in the $ 10,000 Seven Card Razz Championship, and won the $ 10,000 HORSE Championship. Other players had nice runs as the WSOP went on, but realistically, there was no way anybody was going to catch Mercier.

Mercier finished with 2,195.57 Player of the Year points, based on the Global Poker Index’s revamped points system. Paul Volpe was a distant second with 1,923.66, while Max Silver, who was also eliminated from the Main Event on Sunday, ended with 1,687.67.

Volpe finished in the Main Event in 29th place, earning 449.19 points in the POY standings. In order to overtake Jason Mercier, Volpe would have needed to win the entire tournament, a feat which not only would have earned him $ 8 million and worldwide fame, but also 782.81 POY points. Had he finished second, he would have fallen just a few points short of Mercier’s total.

One person who can be happy for Mercier and at the same time relieved is Vanessa Selbst, who came this close to owing him a huge chunk of change. In a well-publicized drunken prop bet, Selbst gave Mercier 180:1 odds on him winning three bracelets this summer. Since he didn’t pull off the feat, he owes Selbst $ 10,000. If he would have nabbed three, she would have owed him a stunning $ 1.8 million.

And as mentioned, he came extremely close, with two wins and a second place finish in a week. Just days after his second bracelet win of 2016, he made another final table, likely causing Selbst to sweat profusely, but he bowed out in 8th place. Hell, he followed THAT up with an eleventh place finish just a couple days later. Just six players have ever won three bracelets in a single year and only five have ever won them all at the traditional World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

It seems that the Player of the Year who won two bracelets, made four final tables, and cashed eleven times should be the biggest money earner at the WSOP (prior to the Main Event), but surprisingly, Mercier is only fifteenth, which just under $ 1 million in earnings at the 2016 WSOP. Fedor Holz tops that list thanks to his $ 5 million win of the $ 111,111 High Roller for One Drop.

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Jason Mercier Threatening Runaway with WSOP Player of the Year Race

 Jason Mercier Threatening Runaway with WSOP Player of the Year Race

With only about two weeks to go (and another 19 or so tournaments in the canister), poker professional Jason Mercier is threatening to make the race for the 2016 World Series of Poker Player of the Year a runaway.

Mercier has been a runaway train since the start of the 2016 WSOP, fired in part by the prop bets he made on whether he would win three bracelets during the run of the Series (many people, including his largest bet with Vanessa Selbst, have allegedly bought out of that one now!). Within the first two weeks of the schedule, Mercier had racked up two wins, a runner-up finish and another final table spot on his way to earning 2121.69 points. Along with the current lead on the POY table, Mercier has also accumulated 10 cashes for a grand total of $ 958,518.

To demonstrate how much of a crushing lead Mercier has in the WSOP POY competition, another double bracelet winner is currently sitting in the second position. The United Kingdom’s Benny Glaser has picked up two bracelets (both in Omaha Hi/Low Split-8 or Better, oddly enough) but has only been able to put four more cashes together with that achievement. Thus, Glaser’s 1352.3 points lags far behind what Mercier has put on the board to this mark of the WSOP.

Demonstrating it isn’t always about finishing first in a tournament (but, let’s be honest, it really is), only three of the next eight places are covered by players who have been able to corral a 2016 WSOP bracelet. Max Silver, for example, has been cashed in nine events so far at the WSOP, with none of them being a finish higher than 12th place. Those finishes have given him enough points to capture the third slot on the standings with 1345.39 points, however (and watch how close the POY race would be if you removed Mercier’s outlier performance).

2016 WSOP bracelet winner Michael Gathy from Belgium has added a second place finish to his resume (with the two tournaments separated by a week and in two different disciplines, Deuce to Seven Triple Draw Lowball and Six-Handed Texas Hold’em) to push himself into the fourth place position with 1280.91 points, with the Top Five rounded out by the U. K.’s Stephen Chidwick (1278.09). Canada’s Mike ‘SirWatts’ Watson (1273.05 points), Randy Ohel (1256.91), bracelet winners Loren Klein (1234.78) and Martin Kozlov (1214.87) and Michael Semenov (1214.69) finish off the Top Ten.

Just to repeat Mercier’s dominance:  he currently has a 769.39-point lead over Glaser; the gap between Glaser and the 10th place Semenov is only 137.61 points.

Looking deeper into the POY rankings, John Monnette has been able to push his way into the 11th place slot, lurking less than 10 points behind Semenov with his 1204.77 points. Justin Bonomo is having another impressive WSOP with his 1197.99 points, but it is Ryan Laplante who might just steal the show. Laplante has been able to rack up 10 cashes so far at the WSOP, with one of them a bracelet win (Event #12, the $ 565 Pot Limit Omaha tournament) and sits in 13th place with 1192.58 points. More importantly for Laplante, he is one cash away from tying the record in one summer in Las Vegas and three away from tying the record in one calendar year (one of the many players who are benefitting from the expanded payout schedule at the 2016 WSOP). The rest of the Top 20 has Paul Volpe (1185.71 points), Daniel Strelitz (1165.98), Eli Elezra (1143.19), Matt Stout (1118.55), Dan Kelly (1115.56), James Obst (1110.44) and Brandon Shack-Harris (1102.54) in 14th through 20th places, respectively (the third double bracelet winner of the 2016 WSOP, Ian Johns, isn’t seen until 22nd place).

To reiterate, remember Mercier’s huge edge on Glaser (769.39 points)…then consider that Glaser’s lead over Shack-Harris is only 249.76 points.

It is going to be pretty difficult to catch Mercier, but there’s still time to achieve the feat. With two more weeks of tournaments in Las Vegas – and the 2016 WSOP Asia/Pacific on the horizon (a time and schedule have not yet been announced) – there will be events that can put some points on the board. If Mercier continues on this blitzkrieg, however, the WSOP Player of the Year may be decided before the cards even hit the air in Australia, let alone the “November Nine” final table for the WSOP Championship Event.

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