As part of a new Sunday Interview series here on PokerListings.com we'll be posting a variety of back-and-forths with your favorite pros.
Sometimes a straight-up Q&A, sometimes a game of 20 questions, sometimes rapid-fire word association, sometimes a longer email conversation.
Whatever the format, the goal is the same -- to offer new insight into the personalities of your poker heros.
Today in the Sunday Interview we've got a sitdown our colleague at PokerListings Germany, Dirk Oetzmann, had with PokerStars pro Jason Mercier at the latest EPT stop in San Remo - the exact place Mercier burst onto the live poker scene in 2008 with his first big win.
Mercier: It's Just Variance
Mercier talks about his marathon Chinese Poker sessions, paying the price for complaining over Twitter, running above expectation, catching Phil Hellmuth and living a life of variance.
PokerListings: You went on a marathon poker session here. How long did you play?
Jason Mercier: 34 hours straight. I started playing with Daniel Negreanu and Scott Seiver, for maybe eight hours.
Then this Russian guy stepped in for maybe five or six hours, then Chance Kornuth took a seat, then Daniel quit, then Scott quit, then I played Chance heads-up for a while, then two more Russians joined in and we played for another 10 or 12 hours.
PokerListings: How do you manage without any sleep?
Jason Mercier: Well, I was tired, but not to the point where I would pass out. I had a lot of coffee, ate regularly, so I was ok.
PokerListings: How much money did you play for?
Jason Mercier: We played €200 a point. I must have had about seven swings for more than €20k. I went from winning €25k to losing €55k, but in the end, I only lost €10k.
PokerListings: Which events are you playing in San Remo?
Jason Mercier: I played the main event and the High Roller. I couldn’t play the €2k because of my little Chinese session.
PokerListings Do you have to adjust between High Roller and main events, regarding the strength of the players?
Jason Mercier: No, not really. Sometimes the High Roller events are a little tougher, but you will always have strong players in the main events, too.
PokerListings: A general question: How long have you been playing online and how long did it take you to become a winning player?
Jason Mercier: I started in 2004, just after I turned 18. I was basically winning from the beginning, but of course I played only very small stakes.
I slowly moved up to middle and then high stakes, but I always kept building my bankroll.
PokerListings: You recently complained on Twitter about how you ran out of luck. What was frustrating you so much?
Jason Mercier: I was up about $100,000 in a cash game of $1k/$2k Omaha 8 or better, in a really juicy game, and then lost $300,000 straight. That really set me up.
It was a really frustrating session, but I should probably not have expressed my disgust is such a public way.
Still, it had been a very frustrating year up until that point, but that’s just part of the game. I need to understand that these things are going to happen.
PokerListings: You received a lot of flak for complaining. People were saying you’ve had enough luck for two lives. Do you think that was unfair?
Jason Mercier: No, I don’t think it was unfair. Most of the people who follow me on Twitter are not gambling for a living.
And those who do play way lower stakes. But most of my followers just lead a normal life, while I am travelling around playing these big tournaments.
And obviously, I’m very lucky to be in this position. I think I should be a little more sensitive about how other people feel, because I know that some of them would do anything to be able to live like this.
PokerListings: So you're not upset?
Jason Mercier: I get upset when I’m not complaining, but only stating a fact, and then people say “why are you whining” and stuff.
For example, I would say that something had to be changed, about the tournament structure for example, and I would still get people who say I shouldn’t be complaining when I’m really not.
But other than that, I guess I deserved a little bit of the flak.
PokerListings: Since then, the tables have turned for you. A win at the WCOOP, a final table in Cannes, ITM in Paris.
Jason Mercier: Yes! And a fourth place at Partouche. Things have really turned around over the last month or so.
PokerListings: How do you explain that?
Jason Mercier: Man, it’s just variance. I’ve been playing the same way, in the same game. This just happens.
Take Dan O’Brien, for example. He plays in the same games as me and he hasn’t had any success for about 18 months. And then suddenly, the results are there again.
PokerListings: Phil Hellmuth won the main event in Cannes.
Jason Mercier: Yeah. (shakes his head)
PokerListings: Does he deserve to call himself the best player in the world now?
Basically, there is no way that anyone can turn around now and say, 'I’m going to win 12 bracelets and beat Hellmuth.' Not even a young player. There is just no way.
PokerListings: You're still young.
Jason Mercier: I know, but I’ve been playing for five years, and I have two [bracelets]. Besides that, I haven’t even had a top-three result.
I have honestly run above expectations, winning two bracelets in five years. So if I average that and play for 40 years, then I’ll have 12 bracelets. [maths by Jason Mercier]
So, I mean, maybe? But I just don’t see it happening, not for me and not for anyone else.
PokerListings: Phil Ivey is in trouble with a casino that doesn’t want to pay him off after he won seven million pounds.
Jason Mercier: I don’t think Phil Ivey is in trouble. The casino is in trouble.
PokerListings: Have you ever had that kind of problem with a casino?
Mercier: I have honestly run above expectations.
Jason Mercier: I don’t play table games for millions and millions of dollars, so, no, never had a problem like that.
PokerListings: Did you watch the Howard Lederer interview?
Jason Mercier: No, I didn’t really follow that. I knew he was just going to be lying and talking nonsense.
The only thing he’s doing is trying to clear his name and get plausible deniability for the company and to say that he didn’t know. So I wasn’t very interested in that.
PokerListings: What do you think is going to happen when Full Tilt goes live again?
Jason Mercier: I don’t know if I’m even allowed to talk about this. I don’t know much about this.
PokerListings: But what do you reckon? A comeback with a bang or a slow buildup?
Jason Mercier: I don’t even know if it’s coming back.
PokerListings: Well, PokerStars said they will go live with Full Tilt on the 6th of November.
Jason Mercier: I don’t even know. I didn’t know. (laughs)
PokerListings: Are you ever going to play on Full Tilt?
Jason Mercier: That depends on if PokerStars lets me.