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Jason Mercier is an EPT champion and three-time WSOP bracelet winner with over $15 million in live tournament earnings but back in 2008 he was an unknown American competing in a European Poker Tour event in San Remo, Italy. Mercier made it to the final table and made one of the most amazing calls in the history of televised tournament poker. He went on to win the tournament and since then he's won three WSOP bracelets and too many other major titles to count. But according to Mercier, if he hadn't made that one epic call at EPT San Remo, maybe none of it would have happened at all. In the latest episode of PokerListings.com's Best Poker Moments, Mercier recounts the hand that propelled him to poker stardom and millions of dollars in winnings. Mercier walks us through the hand and breaks down the reasoning that led to him making a truly impressive call. Check out the video interview to hear the whole story from Jason Mercier himself.
Man: It was definitely one of the happiest moments of my life, was winning that tournament. All the tournaments that I've won since, winning three bracelets and all that stuff, I've never been anywhere near as excited to win a poker tournament as I was that day, winning EPT San Remo [SP].
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Man: In 2007, I ended up winning a seat into the San Remo main event, so that's why I was in Italy in 2008, in April, and played the tournament and was lucky enough to win the tournament.
Going into the final table, I was second in chips. Dario Mineri [SP] was the chip leader. So I was kind of hoping to lay back a little bit, hope for a few guys to get knocked out. There was obviously a lot of money on the line.
We got down to four-handed, and I opened nine-five off, under the gun. Erik Koskas defended the big blinds. Flop came down, Jack, six, five, a rainbow.
He checked, I checked back with the bottom pair. Turn was an eight, giving me a gut shot[?] straight draw. And he led for over--over the pot, he led like 220,000 to a pot of maybe 170. At that point, I didn't really believe him. Just thought that he didn't really have much of a hand.
Maybe he had some sort of straight draw, which I had a pair, so I decided to call. And then the river was another eight, and he instantly moved all in for a little more than pot.
You know, I thought it over for a while. I didn't think he would bet so big on the turn with just an eight. So he would need to have like maybe eight-six, or Jack-eight, already have two pair. Or possibly have a straight already, like nine-seven or seven-four.
He was drinking water, he was not talking, he was standing up, trying to act strong almost is kind of the feel that I had. So if I called and won, I was going to be massive chip leader with three left, and have a really good chance to win. And if I called and lost, I was still going to have about average chips or a little below and still be in it.
And folding just didn't feel right. I felt like I had him beat a very high percentage of the time. Didn't make too much sense for him to have anything. And yeah, I just felt like I needed to pick off his bluff.
Announcer: His instinct are that his two pairs are good, he's just got to decide whether to trust . . .
Announcer 2: Wow. What a call.
Announcer: . . . his instincts, and that's what he does.
Announcer 2: What a great call.
Announcer: He's laid the call, and Koskas will show he had absolutely nothing.
Announcer 2: That is an absolutely excellent call.
Announcer: He went with his instincts, he made the call, and he's eliminated Erik Koskas.
Announcer 2: He has. It's a brilliant call. It's a brilliant, brilliant call.
Man: I definitely think that that hand had a lot of influence on what happened afterwards. You know, like if I were to call and lose the hand, or potentially even folded the hand, there's a decent chance I don't win the tournament.
If I don't win the tournament, maybe I'm not as motivated to play as many live tournaments and try to win more. And yeah, I mean there's a lot of little things like that in poker, where if one hand doesn't happen a certain way, your whole career changes.
And I think that that was a very pivotal point for me to make that call, win that hand, and then go on to win the tournament.
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