Mercier absolutely dismantled the final table of EPT San Remo in April and will now have the chance to make history by winning two EPT titles. He'll have to do it from the short stack, however, as a succession of late-night hands seriously depleted his ammunition.
Day 3 of the 2008 EPT Barcelona began with frenzied action and a plethora of bust-outs including Mark Vanio, Alexander Grishchuk and Helfried Bernhardt.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in the early going was the sudden departure of Team PokerStars pro Chad Brown.
Brown entered the day with $259,000 chips, and many had him pegged to go deep in the event. But it was not to be, as Mr. Vanessa Rousso was dealt an early blow when he doubled up an opponent and then got all-in with pocket jacks against K-Q and couldn't fade a king.
Two other former chip leaders were under fire in the early stages with both Jonas Klausen and Sebastian Ruthenberg taking a barrage of hits. Finally, as the night drew on, Jonas Klausen succumbed to no-chip disease. Ruthenberg, on the other hand, made somewhat of a comeback and finished with $1.2 million chips.
There were plenty of eliminations in the meantime with Swedish pro Ramzi Jelassi, Joe Pelton and PokerStars qualifier Stephen Chidwick all hitting the rail.
Finnish poker player Voitta Rintala, who has the most intimidating eyes in poker, would have made for an interesting story at the final table but his tournament was cut short when he ran A-9 into pocket kings.
Action started to drag during the later portion of the day and when nine-handed play began things almost ground to a halt.
As is usually the case, no one wanted to miss out on an EPT TV final table, and aggressive play became a thing of the past. It would take nearly three hours to find the final eight.
Mercier seemed to be the only player pressing the matter and if it hadn't been for Davidi Kitai doubling through him with 9-9 versus A-K there is a good chance the American pro would have taken control of the table.
Disaster would strike approximately an hour later when Mercier called a shove from Sebastian Ruthenberg. In a weird twist of fate Mercier was once again facing pocket nines, although this time he held A-Q.
Sure enough, another nine hit on the flop, and after the turn and the river bricked Mercier was suddenly one of the short stacks.
When Michael Lundell was eliminated we had our first look at the final table. Our initial impression is that it's a distinctly European group of players, with Mercier and Samuel Chartier as the only North Americans.
Mercier, with his EPT win in San Remo, is most likely the most well-known player at the table, although Sebastian Ruthenberg and Davidi Kitai both have WSOP bracelets.
Canadian Chartier presents an interesting story because he met Mercier in San Remo and the two are sharing a room in Barcelona.
Martin Nielsen is also known as a solid rounder from Denmark. Dren Ukella, Fintan Gavin and Daniele Mazzia round out what should be a solid final table tomorrow.
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Here's a look at the final chip counts as players head into battle tomorrow:
|1. Martin Nielsen||$1.22 million |
|2. Sebastian Ruthenberg||$1.2 million|
|3. Samuel Chartier||$879,000|
|4. Dren Ukella||$734,000|
|5. Fintan Gavin||$701,000|
|6. Davidi Kitai||$600,000|
|7. Jason Mercier||$526,000|
|8. Daniele Mazzia||$359,000|