'I feel like I played my best.'
Despite ending his time on High Stakes Poker on the losing end of a $400k pot, Jason Mercier says he’d be glad to get back in the game again next season.
"I would definitely do it again if the opportunity arose," he told PokerListings. "I feel like I play the cash games as well as any good high-stakes player.
"Obviously $400/$800 is not my normal game, but I don't feel like I was playing like scared money. I was able to shove $210,000 in on a semi-bluff."
After two episodes of the popular GSN show where he did not get involved in very many hands, Mercier's exit from the High Stakes stage came during an episode that aired this past Sunday in a hand with arguably poker's greatest player, Phil Ivey.
Gus Hansen raised to $4,200 under the gun and Eli Elezra and Ivey both made the call before Mercier tried a three-bet squeeze to $22,100 with A♥ 4♥ from the small blind.
"Normally I would probably just call in this situation," Mercier said. "We're over 250 big blinds deep and it's fine to call here. I don't really like folding, especially with how deep we are and the players in the hand. I felt like it was a really good spot to squeeze. I can put in like 10 % of my stack and there's like $16k out there that I can pick up if it works.
"I was really expecting to get re-raised or everyone to fold. My image was really tight and I figured that they would put me on a big pair, maybe ace-king, and they really wouldn't want to mess with me at this point."
Hansen and Elezra gave up, but not Ivey, who made the call before the dealer revealed a 7♥ 3♦ 2♠ flop.
"He called without even thinking about it," Mercier said. "From watching the last couple of episodes I know that he was really active, but I wasn't really aware of how active at the time. I know he did have over $800k and when he called, I really felt like he had a middle pair, like fives through tens."
Mercier continuation bet $28,700, Ivey raised it up $50k more and almost instantly, Mercier pushed in for another $110K.
"I was not necessarily expecting him to fold to one bullet, but I didn't expect him to raise ever," he said. "There's almost no hand he should be raising with on that flop. I expected him to call and depending on what came on the turn, I may double barrel.
"The thing is, I hadn't really been involved in any big pots, so I felt like he was going to give me credit for an overpair at this point. I was 100 % sure he didn't have a set and I really felt like he was just trying to see where he was at with a pair.
"As soon as he raised, I knew I was going all in."
Ivey made a reluctant looking call with pocket nines, the turn and river were no help to Mercier and with his $200k buy-in gone, he left the game.
"I knew that if I shoved it was going to look like I had aces, kings or queens and if he can't beat that, how can he call? That was my rational," Mercier said. "Plus I had an over card, the gutshot and the back-door flush draw."
Better luck next time kid.
But despite losing more than $200,000 in a single hand to the legendary Ivey, Mercier said there's not much he would do differently.
"I feel like I played my best," he said. "Hopefully I didn't say anything in the interview afterwards that was too bad. I might have said Phil Ivey played his hand badly.
"I mean, I don't think he's going to be saying, 'I owned that kid.' I don't think that's the optimal way to play nines against me, but what can I say? he's Phil Ivey.
"He's one of the best in the world, if not the best in the world. But if I had to play the hand again, I don't think I could do anything else."
In a game featuring the greatest players in the world, a 23-year-old Mercier may seem overmatched on paper.
But the World Series of Poker and European Poker Tour title holder, with more than $4 million in career live tournament earnings in just the past two years and millions of hands in online cash-game experience, doesn't seem to think so.
"I thought it was a good opportunity," he said. "I read the line-up and I felt like I could have an advantage. I feel like I would have an advantage in almost any line-up. Plus, it's also good exposure.
"When I got there, unfortunately it was a pretty tough line-up. But some of them have their leaks. I still think I would have an edge in that line-up any day of the week."
Unfortunately for Mercier, not that day of the week.
"I went in there not just trying to survive and make like $20k," he said. "I was going to take advantage of whatever circumstances I could, whatever hands I was dealt, spots I was given and just try to make some cash."
If he has one regret from his four hours in the game, it's from his first hand at the table, where he raised with deuces and folded to a Tom "durrrr" Dwan three bet.
"I probably should have shoved it down durrrr's throat," he said. "I would have been considered a legend probably. But I really didn't want to go broke on the first hand.
"I think you have to play tighter when durrrr's at the table. You definitely have to change the way you play, but I felt like I was doing a good job of that. I feel like durrrr's a little tougher to play against than Ivey because he's so crazy. You can't really put him on anything."
But regardless of how things turned out, Mercier said the experience was definitely worth it.
"I was kind of nervous at first," he said. "But it was definitely fun."
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