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Stepping Up: Jason Mercier's Journey to EPT San Remo
Jason Mercier, known as treysfull21 online, waded through a sea of international players to become one of two U.S. players to make the final table of EPT San Remo. Known primarily as an online player, Mercier is playing in just his second major live tournament, and proving he can roll with the big boys.
Mercier finished Day 3 with $1,442,000 in chips and the chance to upset chip leader and Italian favorite Dario Minieri at the final table. PokerListings.com chatted with Mercier for a couple minutes just moments after the day concluded.
So Jason, you've just made your first EPT final table, how are you feeling right now?
I'm feeling really good, you know. It's hard to describe the feeling.
Now some of our readers might not know that much about you. Do you mind telling us a little bit about your background?
I'm from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and I've been playing poker for about four years now. I play mostly online and this is only the second major live event I've played. I played in the Bahamas in January but [...] didn't really cash or anything.
How would you describe your tournament thus far?
It's gone really well. Day 1 was a bit rough for me, I was a bit short for awhile, but I managed to chip up to $24,000 by the end of the day.
Day 2 went really, really well. I went from 130th out of 200 players to chip leader by the end of the day. Day 3 has been pretty much been a great run all the way to the final eight.
Now that you've made it to the final eight and you've spent some time playing against these guys do you feel like you have a good read on your final table opponents?
I feel like I have a pretty good read. Dario (Minieri) is obviously an amazing player and is just nonstop aggressive. I tried to play a little more aggressively toward the end of the day but I had Minieri coming back over the top on me so I sort of had to rethink that strategy. I don't really want to get in many big pots against him early.
Now you don't have to answer this if you don't want to but you played a gigantic hand against Eric Koskas, one of the biggest of the tournament, where you shoved and made him surrender his hand, and everybody is wondering - What did you have?
[Laughs] I don't really want to answer that. I think he actually might have laid down the best hand. He told all the other players he had queens but I don't believe that. I think he had like A-Q. He's a strange player and definitely has an unusual style.
What has the overall experience of coming to San Remo for the EPT event been like? Had you been to Europe before?
No it's actually my first time and honestly it was kind of rough in the beginning. The airline lost my luggage, I got it like two days late, and I had trouble meeting my friends, my cell phone didn't work and I still can't figure out how to get my international Internet card working. It's been really rough but it's paying off now.
Did you actually qualify through PokerStars.com?
Yeah; went through the steps program and got in that way.
How do you like the steps process at PokerStars?
It's not too bad at all. There are six steps and in the one I entered step six awarded two seats. It makes it so you actually have a decent chance with only 10 players.
What do you think of the level of play here in Italy? Do the Italians play a different game than North Americans?
Yeah, um, I don't want to insult the Italian people as a whole but it seems like most of them have already lost and a lot of the locals don't seem to play that strong. They don't seem as aggressive as the other nationalities, like the Scandinavians for instance.
Obviously Dario is an amazing Italian player. Maybe they need to take some lessons from him. [Laughs] He should start a poker camp.
What are your thoughts heading into the final table tomorrow?
I don't really want to play a big pot against Dario and in the meantime I hope to pick off a couple of the shorter stacks. Maybe Dario and I can butt heads in the end.
The charismatic Mercier probably won't get that much publicity going into a final table that is centered around Italian scarf-wearing crowd favorite Minieri, but he might just surprise everybody by the time this thing is over.
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12 March 2018 70