Jason Mercier may be a father soon but that apparently hasn’t softened his killer instinct at the poker table.
Mercier outlasted all 116 entries in the elite $25k Seminole Hard Rock Poker and then bested MTT master Justin Bonomo heads-up with no chop.
The difference between first and second place was a staggering $240k. Even better, Mercier pulled off the win while his pregnant wife Natasha Barbour and parents cheered him on from the rail.
Mercier even hammed it up and shouted, “That one’s for the baby!” after winning.
The win, worth a total haul of $794,600, boosts Mercier’s lifetime live tournament earnings to $18.2 million.
Florida Victory Extra Special for Mercier
“Winning in Florida feels better than anywhere else,” he said. “This is the first casino I ever played in. To get a win here any time feels really great.”
According to Mercier he drew some inspiration from his wife.
“Natasha was dropping me off here yesterday and she said, ‘You know, you haven’t really won anything in No-Limit in awhile. You should start listening to me about how to play hands.”
It turns out that Mercier still remembers how to play. He actually won this same event back in 2015 when the SHRPO was held in August instead of March.
“She said that was a long time ago. It gave me a little extra motivation.”
Mercier Outlasts Bonomo, Harwood, Kenney
Mercier had to get through Justin Bonomo to lock up the tournament but the rest of the final table were no slouches either.
The day actually began with 29 players but the bubble proved to be a short affair with 16 places paying out.
Nine players remained at the 6:16 p.m. dinner break including Bryn Kenney, Anthony Spinella, Olivier Busquet, Loni Harwood, Sam Soverel, Bonomo, Ari Engel, Jeff Gross and of course Mercier.
Soverel held the chip lead but that didn’t last long as Mercier managed to land a double knock out that sent Engel and Kenney packing.
Meanwhile Harwood busted former chip leader Soverel, which helped get her all the way to third place where she picked up $348k.
Here are the complete final-table payouts:
1st: Jason Mercier – $794,600
2nd: Justin Bonomo – $556,800
3rd: Loni Harwood – $348,000
4th: Anthony Spinella – $240,700
5th: Olivier Busquet – $153,700
6th: Sam Soverel – $113,100
7th: Bryn Kenney – $92,800
8th: Ari Engel – $78,300
9th: Jeff Gross – $75,400
Mercier to “Go Hard” Next Three Months
Mercier said that every time you make a big score it helps get your mindset in the right place, which is important because he has an intense poker schedule over the next six months.
“I’m playing Monte Carlo, SCOOP and WSOP along with the $300k Super High Roller Bowl. I’m really looking forward to that.
“Gonna go hard for the next three months and hopefully make a lot of money. Then relax and wait for my baby boy to come.”
Last summer Mercier stole the spotlight with a series of high-profile bracelet bets, most notably against Vanessa Selbst, and made good on them with two WSOP bracelet wins.
“I might make some bracelet bets,” he said. “I usually make them a couple weeks before the series.
"It’s really going to depend on how I feel and how I think the cash games are going to be in Vegas. I never really want to make bracelet bets if I think I’m going to be splitting my time.”
Beyond the summer, Mercier faces the prospect of some serious life changes.
He is planning on playing the PokerStars Championship event in Barcelona without Barbour. The couple have been inseparable since getting together nearly three years ago.
“It’s really going to depend on how those trips go and whether we can travel with the baby,” he said. “That’s what’s life’s about. Making adjustments and figuring out how you can get along with the people you love.”