Mercier Fire Rekindled by OFC: "Hold’em is So Vile and So Brutal"


During the height of the poker boom Isabelle Mercier was an established PokerStars pro and feared No-Limit Hold’em player.

She had the nickname “NoMercy” for a reason, after all.

But about four years ago she pretty much quit poker and moved to Monaco to work as a consultant. Fast forward to the 2015 Prague Poker Festival and she’s back and it’s Open Face Chinese Poker that has rekindled the fire in her.

Apparently her skills are still there, too, as she just won the first of three OFC events at the Corinthia Hotel.

Her passion for playing also seems to have returned as just 5.5 hours after her victory she was back at the tables playing the €10k OFC high roller tournament.

PokerListings caught up with her to find out more and started with an obvious question, given the circumstances:

Isabelle Mercier
Poker star from way back.

PokerListings: Do you think that sleep is overrated?

Isabelle Mercier: (laughs) It’s actually even worse. I started from Monaco at 7 AM in the morning yesterday, went to Nice, flew to Paris, flew to Prague and the tournament began at 8 PM.

And we finished at 10 the next morning, and then I came back at three in the afternoon. I’m happy that this is not a TV interview.

It’s the adrenalin that keeps me up. This game is so exciting. Even when my boyfriend and I were going to bed I was still talking and it took me a long time to find some sleep.

PL: A couple of years ago you were a player regularly to be seen on TV, but then you disappeared.

IM: I settled down in Monaco and I didn’t want to travel anymore so I went for business in the gaming industry instead.

I was working as a consultant for several years but my attitude as a North American differs too much from the people in Monaco.

For me, it’s all ‘come on, time is money, sky’s the limit, let’s go and do it,' while they say ‘oh la, let’s think about this first and wait and see.'

I can’t spend my life thinking about projects, I want to do stuff. It’s a very closed market and the people are difficult to work with so I’m going to drop this now and go back to poker.

My problem was I wasn’t that interested in Hold’em anymore, having played it for 15 years. But then Chinese poker came along and now all I play is this.

PL: Open Face Chinese paved your way back into poker?

IM: Well, I’ve been playing now and again for a few years but it was when I discovered the pineapple version that it really brought me back into the game.

A very intellectual game.

PL: What happened to Isabelle the Hold’em player?

IM: I lost the drive, and also the game is changing a lot, and I’m not getting younger. I see all these 18 year olds in the tournament now and I feel I belong to the old generation.

I’m not saying I can’t win anymore; I’m saying I don’t have the rage to do that anymore for 14 hours a day.

Texas Hold’em is so vile and so brutal while in Open Face Chinese, although there is short-time luck involved, too, you build your foundation and you make so many decisions that in the long run the better player is usually going to win.

PL: It takes a bit of the terror out of poker?

IM: Exactly, it’s much more like chess. There is nothing like 5-bet bluffing in this game, you would only hang yourself. It’s a very intellectual game and that’s what I like.

Only this year I’ve also discovered the 2-7 version of this game and I’m crazy about it. There’s a lot of fantasyland in this and it’s great to play.

The progressive version opened up another world and it just keeps getting better. I love this game!

Life's good.

PL: You’re wearing a TonyBet patch. How did that come along?

IM: I’ve known the people for many years, since I was working in the Aviation Club in Paris. When I found out that TonyBet is the only online poker room where you can play OFC I approached them and we started working together with me promoting and producing content and so on.

Also, although I love to live in Monaco, with friendly people and good food and a nice climate, I’m thinking of moving back to Montreal where I might get involved with a Poker Club with setting up more OFC live events.

Check their schedule in late January, early February to find out more.

For now I’m very happy to be ambassador for TonyBet, I love the site, I’ve been writing columns every week and I’m really happy I won the tournament yesterday.

Life’s good!

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