Jason Mercier wins inaugural EPT San Remo event

Winner Shot

Dario Minieri may have entered the European Poker Tour San Remo final table with the chip lead and all of Italy behind him, but it was Jason Mercier who had what it took to walk away with the win.

It all could have gone so much differently had Jason Mercier decided to cancel the trip after his friend backed out of coming along a few weeks ago.

"But luckily two of my online friends told me they were coming and I could meet up with them so I decided to do it," Mercier told PokerListings.com in an interview.

Mercier is a professional online poker player, and this was only his second major live tournament. His first was the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, where he didn't last through the first day.

After winning a seat in the EPT San Remo event at PokerStars, it wouldn't have been surprising if Mercier cashed out the prize instead of taking the trip after his PCA experience. However, he's now €869,000 richer for having the guts to try another live event.

Of course, Dario Minieri might be wishing the American from Florida had stayed home. Minieri was the favorite to win the event going into the final table as he was buoyed by the hometown crowd.

It certainly helped that Minieri had the chip lead as well, starting with $1,832,000. The starting chip counts at the final table were:

  • Dario Minieri $1,832,000
  • Jason Mercier $1,591,000
  • Antony Lellouche $1,192,000
  • Gregory Genovese $694,000
  • Dag Palovic $585,000
  • Eric Koskas $449,000
  • William Thorson $418,000
  • Marcus Bower $278,000

In what was the fastest final table in EPT history so far, it didn't take long see the first casualty of the day, and it only took about two and a half hours for the whole thing to be decided.

First to go was Marcus Bower, taken out by Antony Lellouche. Lellouche had opened the pot to $70,000 and it folded around to Bower, who decided it was time to make a move, going all-in for his remaining $155,000.

Lellouche made a quick call and showed A J against Bower's pocket fours. A board of K 9 8 7 A gave Lellouche the higher pair and Bower the boot.

As the end of the first level of the day neared, a second player was eliminated. Dag Palovic raised to $96,000 after Minieri had limped into the pot. Minieri called and they saw a flop of 6 3 2.

Palovic ended up all-in with pocket queens and Minieri made the call with pocket threes. The board finished with runner eights and Minieri sent Palovic packing in seventh place.

Mercier picked up some more chips to stay on the heels of Minieri with the elimination of William Thorson in sixth place. Thorson was all-in pre-flop with A Q, and Mercier called with A K.

The flop dropped K 6 5, giving Mercier the lead. The board finished out A 4 to seal the deal for Mercier.

Mercier took out the next player as well in a hand that started out as a three-way between him, Minieri and Gregory Genovese. After they all saw a flop of A 7 5, Mercier bet out $120,000, and Minieri folded, leaving an all-in Genovese to duke it out with Mercier.

Mercier showed an A 3 to Genovese's T 9. Genovese couldn't make up any ground when the rest of the board played out with Q 2, leaving him with a fifth-place finish.

There was just no stopping Mercier as he steamrolled through the remaining players to claim the win. Next he took out Eric Koskas with an amazing call that is best related in the PokerListings.com Live Tournaments section, where details of all the final-table play can be read.

Dario Minieri
Oh so close, and yet so far away once again for Minieri.

In a surprise blow for all the Italian fans present, Mercier then took out Minieri in third place. Minieri had pocket queens up against Mercier's A 4. When the flop brought two more diamonds and then the turn brought a 4, Minieri and his fans were hoping to see anything but another four or diamond on the river.

No such luck for the Italian Harry Potter lookalike, as the river brought a 3. As a result, Minieri left with another third-place finish in an EPT event, waiting for another chance to get his first win in a major live event.

Two more hands later, Mercier had the win. Lellouche had built a reputation during the game as an aggressive player and it got him in trouble on just the second hand of heads-up play.

After a raise and a re-raise, Mercier shoved all-in and got an insta-call from Lellouche. Lellouche showed pocket sevens to Mercier's K Q. The board came A Q 4 8 2, giving Mercier a higher pair and the EPT crown.

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