Coming into the final table of the PokerStars.com EPT San Remo main event, it looked like home-turf hero Dario Minieri was destined to take it down for Italy. Unfortunately for him, Jason Mercier had other ideas.
An online professional, Mercier played exceptionally well today to take down his first major title. After the madness of the media circus had died down we pulled Mercier aside to get the answers to a few questions of our own.
Before reading this you may want to take a read through the live updates to acquaint yourself with all the hands we'll be discussing.
Congratulations Jason. You qualified for this event through PokerStars. You must be glad you decided to make the trip.
Yeah, the funny thing is I was thinking of selling my seat back to PokerStars because my friend backed out of coming like three 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.
Nice. If we could go back a bit and talk about the lead-up to the final table. There were some really good players who almost made it, specifically Isaac "WestmenloAA" Baron and Mark "RandALLin" Flowers. How glad were you that they busted out and how much did that change the final for you?
That's an excellent question. When Isaac Baron got all-in with sevens versus kings and the flop came 7-2-2 my heart just dropped. I felt like oh my god. I couldn't believe Westmenlo was going to have chips again. But then the turn came a king.
I didn't even really relax until Randall told me he had folded a seven so I knew Isaac would be gone. So I was really happy about that. I just met him a few days ago and he was a cool guy but I really didn't want to see him at the final table.
When Randall was all-in I was actually rooting for him because he had Dario Minieri covered and I felt like I had a better read on Randall than I did on Dario. So I was hoping he knocked out Dario there but he's also a great player.
Take us through your thought process once you made it to the final table. It seemed like you were playing a more patient game compared to Dario's all-out aggression.
Yeah. Going into the final table I knew that Dario was going to try to run over the table so I didn't want to play any really big pots with him unless I had a hand.
You succeeded in staying out of Dario's way but it looked like you were going after a few of the other players, especially Eric Koskas. You took a big pot from him yesterday when you made the nut straight and he paid you off.
Today you made the best call we've seen in a long time when you called a big bet on the turn and then called his all-in on the river with bottom pair. What had you had seen up to that point that allowed you to make that call?
Well, I had seen him bluffing a lot. I was at his table when there were about 95 players left and I saw him make some absolutely insane moves. Like raising under the gun and getting flatted and the flop came queen-high. He called the guy's bet and then shipped when the guy fired a second barrel on the turn and then showed A-3, no hand.
Also, I was hanging out with Marcus Bower last night and he told me whenever Koskas bets almost full-pot on the turn he's going to shove the river every time with nothing.
It seemed like he moved in a little fast there on the river in that hand. Like he just snap-shoved without really thinking about it. Did that say anything to you?
When he snap-shoved I almost snap-called, I swear. I was going to snap-call but I stopped to make sure I had the right read. I think it was about 80% bluff and 20% trips or a straight. I knew he wasn't going to show me just a pair.
The hand that you knocked out Dario [in] was probably the most pivotal pot of the tournament in terms of deciding a winner. Give us a quick look at how it went and what you were thinking.
Sure. I had A♦ 4♦ and I three-bet him which was pretty standard. When he flatted I really wasn't sure what he had and I was pretty much just going to give up unless I flopped an ace or a flush draw or a wheel or something.
So I flopped a flush draw and I felt like it was more profitable to check-raise all-in. That way I'd get some value if he bluffed and I wouldn't have to be faced with calling his shove if I bet like $500,000 or something. So I check-raised and he called and I hit the flush.
If we could talk about the heads-up match a bit - you had a big lead but Lellouche still had a relatively deep stack. Going into it did you feel like he wanted to play small pots and take it slow or get the money in quick like we saw happen?
You know, I thought he was going to play it fairly slow because I saw him limp a lot the whole final table. So I thought maybe he wanted to play smaller pots and play more after the flop. When I picked up K-Q I figured it would be a coin flip and it was a good time to try to end it. I also had the chips to [be able to] afford to take that flip.
Congratulations again Jason and good luck.
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In recent memory the contingent of young online players has been absolutely dominating the European Poker Tour. This event in San Remo was no different as Jason Mercier put on an amazing demonstration, earning every penny of his €869,000 prize.