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Isabelle "No Mercy" Mercier
Isabelle Mercier got her degree in law at the age of 24. A year later, she moved to Paris to attend the Sorbonne. She began working as a poker dealer and was quickly promoted to manager of the poker room. After four years, she went to Las Vegas, learned poker and decided to turn professional. She sold her apartment and all of her belongings, and never returned to the casino in Paris. Now, 1.5 years later, she's has had several impressive wins, such as the WPT Ladies Night in 2004.
For how long have you been playing poker?
I have been playing poker all my life, but I've been a professional for about one and a half years. I moved to Paris about five years ago to get a masters degree in International Law. I continued to work nights as a dealer like I did back in Montreal. I was the only one there who knew English and could work with computers, so I was dealing for like ten days, then I was put in charge of the poker room. I stayed there for four years. Then I went to Las Vegas, I got coached and I learned poker. After that I never returned to my job. I sold everything except some clothes and a suitcase and I went for it, for fulfilling my dreams. I don't want to die and regret that I didn't even try.
How many WSOP tournaments will you play this year?
I have played 12, cashed in three. And I will play the Main Event.
How do you feel about being one of the few female poker professionals?
I think I have a great advantage because I am female. Both with the media and at the tables. I think most male players think that women have a conservative and really tight style of play, and that's good for me that they seem to think so because that really isn't my style of play.
I used to be against the Ladies events too because I think poker is something both sexes really have the same chance to win at. It's a great sport for a mixed field, and why should it be divided? But, I also think that if women don't come to play in other events, it's better that they play in Ladies events than in none at all. As it is now, maybe we need the Ladies events to get women into the poker scene.
What do you like best about your life as a poker professional?
I love to play. I don't care about the money. I spend the money fast when I win anyway and usually I don't get a hundered percent of the winnings either because of sponsors and friends who stake me in tournaments. I never pay the buy-ins myself. If no one stakes me, I don't play.
What is your favorite poker game?
No-Limit Hold'em is my game, but I tried some Omaha (WSOP 2005, event 35, $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha). I got knocked out by Doyle (Brunson). He's a great player, he's got so much experience. I learn so much from the experienced, big players. I love playing with them.
Do you play online poker?
Yes, I play on PokerStars. Usually at least one tournament a day. I play only tournaments nowadays. When I started out as a professional, I played a lot of cash games the first six months. I played like $15-30 limits. I didn't make very much money then, people thought I was crazy to start out as a professional with just $10,000 in bankroll, but I believe that if you really want something you should go for it. The universe makes things happen if you really want them. And here I am now, sponsored (by PokerStars) in the WSOP.
As you travel almost 12 months a year, don't you miss having a home?
No, not really, I don't like to have a life that's the same every day. I stay in the same hotel room for like seven weeks sometimes, and I make that my home. Sometimes I move furniture around to make me feel more at home. Of course, I miss friends and family though. I usually go home to Montreal for about a month every summer, and in that time my friends are on vacation and I can see them a lot.
Do you have any advice for new players who have the same dream you did?
Just go for it! Try it. You can always go back, get a job and live an 'ordinary life' if it isn't working for you. Do your best, and don't be afraid. Just don't buy in for more than you can afford to lose.