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Jason Mercier is one of the most exciting young tournament players in the world today. The Florida native won his first major poker tournament at age 21 at EPT4 San Remo and has followed up that success with a number of big scores, including a victory at the European Poker Tour's London High-Roller tournament.
Mercier got his start playing poker in high school, playing with friends as the game exploded in popularity on television. By the time he got to college, he was dominating the friendly games.
"One kid told me I should try playing online," he said, "and that's how I got started on there and never really looked back since." He started playing almost exclusively cash games, using the handle "treysfull21" and racking up 2 million hands of No Limit Hold'em cash in 2007 while playing only a handful of online tournaments.
Everything changed, however, when on a whim he played a Step 5 satellite to San Remo in early 2008. Mercier won the satellite and the Step 6 that followed to earn his ticket to Italy.
"I thought I was going to sell the seat, but I found out that some of my online friends were going to go," he said. "That's what made me decide to go. I totally feel like it all happened for a reason."
Maybe it was destiny. Mercier took down the tournament, banking €869,000 for a win that would change his life. "I went from a mid-stakes online cash game grinder to a live tourney grinder traveling six months a year," he said. "I don't really have any pressure to play, but now I have goals like winning a bracelet."
Mercier came into his first WSOP ready to dominate, but a string of poor results would force him to re-evaluate his mentality. "I think I came into the Series with two much confidence, expecting to just show up and dominate," he said. "I was getting it in crushed in marginal spots. I also wasn't playing focused, wasn't getting a good night's sleep and going out and partying the night before events."
The Series seemed to serve as a wakeup call, as Mercier would spend the fall tearing up the European circuit once more, final-tabling EPT5 Barcelona and the WSOP Europe's Pot Limit Omaha event before taking first place in the EPT London High-Roller tournament, defeating a star-studded field and banking another 516,000 GBP. The success gave Mercier a reputation as a player who dominates on European soil, but who for whatever reason has been unable to make scores on home turf.
In early 2009, however, a string of big cashes at the Los Angeles Poker Classic and Wynn Classic saw Mercier finally getting results on his side of the Atlantic.
"With the EPTs, I think it's a coincidence that I ran really well in them compared to the ones in the States," he said. "At the end of any field, the players left are pretty good no matter where you are."
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