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2009 WSOP Best Bets: Jason Mercier
It's no understatement to say that Jason "treysfull21" Mercier's 2008 World Series was a disappointment.
Fresh from a massive score at his first major live tournament - a victory at EPT4 San Remo in April that added €869,000 to his bankroll - the young Floridian headed to Las Vegas expecting to crush his competition.
Though he banked $56,769 in prize money, his three cashes were a far cry from the dominant performance he'd expected to turn in.
"I think I just came into the Series last year with too much confidence, expecting to just show up and dominate," he said.
"I think I gave away a lot of opportunities. In the three cashes I had, all of my bust hands I was getting it in when I was crushed in marginal spots."
The chaotic atmosphere in Las Vegas probably didn't help, especially for a 21-year-old facing his first WSOP.
"I wasn't playing focused," Mercier said. "I wasn't getting a good night's sleep and I was going out and partying the night before events."
A cruel summer, but the fall paid dividends.
Mercier headed off to Europe, where he promptly took sixth in September's EPT5 Barcelona event, cashing for €227,000, and followed that up with an eighth-place, £26,812 finish in the WSOP Europe's Pot-Limit Omaha tournament.
Capping his spectacular Euro trip was a first place in the EPT's £20,000 High Roller event in London. The win added another £516,000 to Mercier's bottom line and cemented his reputation as an EPT specialist.
"I run really good in Europe and I run really bad at home," Mercier told PokerListings.com. "It's about as simple as that."
Lately, however, Mercier has seen his luck change on this side of the Atlantic. Since February, he's cashed seven times in prelims at the Los Angeles Poker Classic and Wynn Classic, including an $81k first-place finish at the Wynn and a $71k fourth-place finish in L.A.
Mercier feels confident he'll be able to replicate that success this summer.
"I think I'm a much better player now than I was a year ago," he said. "I plan on getting better rest and being more mentally prepared for the tourneys than I was in 2008."
The kid says he's ready to play any event, up to and including the $40k NLHE bonanza.
"I like my chances in pretty much any PLO or NL Hold'em tourney no matter the field," he said.
"Besides PLO and NL I'm probably break-even or a small winner at the other games. I think I'm still plus-EV in any tournament, but I need to work on my Omaha 8 and Stud games a little more."
That said, Mercier joined pros like Shane "Shaniac" Schleger in decrying the changes Jeffrey Pollack and his staff have made for this year's Series - including the cancellation of all rebuy events.
"I think it's terrible," he said. "[Having] no rebuy events is a joke. I loved the rebuy events and the people that complained are clueless. If people want to donate 20 buy-ins to a rebuy event, then let them.
"I'm pretty upset about it, but hey, what can you do?"
Rebuy events or no, Mercier will head to Vegas looking for redemption of a specific variety.
He told PokerListings.com that his victory at San Remo erased much of the pressure he felt to build a bankroll, and that most of his focus is now centered on winning that elusive WSOP bracelet.
"It's pretty important," he said. "I've had a few close runs at it. At the WSOP Europe I was second in chips going to the final table of the PLO event and I had a very disappointing showing. So I'm really looking forward to really going after it this year. I'm hungrier than ever."