Thursday, June 29, 2023 7:30 PM Local Time
Jason Mercier Wins Sixth WSOP Bracelet in Event #60: $1,500 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw
On June 14th, 2016, Jason Mercier and Mike Watson crossed swords with the World Series of Poker $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Championship bracelet at stake. It was Mercier's fifth top-ten no-limit 2-7 finish in the previous five years, and Watson's third in three years.
Watson had the chip lead several times heads up, but the relentless Mercier prevailed, earning his fourth WSOP bracelet. Watson would follow up that showing with a fourth-place in 2017's event, while Mercier's life took a different path.
Then on Thursday, June 29th, 2023 in Horseshoe and Paris Las Vegas, improbably, it all happened again. Mercier and Watson faced each other heads up at Event #60: $1,500 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw with the $151,276 first place prize, another bracelet for Mercier, or the first for Watson on the line.
And just like seven years ago, a relentless Mercier reigned triumphant.
Mercier discussed the unlikely repeat matchup against Watson, saying, "I've been three-handed with him four separate times in major events and I've won all four. So he's gotten second twice and third twice. But in particular, we played heads up for the no-limit deuce bracelet in the $10K in 2016. So it was definitely a bit of déja vu."
"You know going into heads up, I was a little worried that he was finally going to get me. But luckily I ran hot and was able to beat him again."
As lowball season kicks off in grand fashion at the WSOP, this event attracted a record-breaking field of 548, generating a prize pool of $731,580.
|1||Jason Mercier||United States||$151,276|
|3||Brad Ruben||United States||$63,505|
|4||Jon Turner||United States||$44,002|
|5||Erik Seidel||United States||$31,114|
|6||Richard Ashby||United Kingdom||$22,461|
|7||Jonathan Glendinning||United States||$16,562|
Mercier burst on the scene in 2008, racking up at least a million dollars in earnings in nine of the ten years until 2017, ranking him at the time number 11 on the cash leaderboard to go with those five WSOP bracelets. Then he walked away, choosing to take a break from poker to focus on his family.
"After my son was born, I knew things were going to be different," Mercier he wrote on the PokerStars blog at the time. "Becoming a parent brings about a complete transformation of who you are. I no longer let myself be so concerned with what I want, but more so the well-being of my wife and my child (and future children). Serving and leading my family is of utmost importance."
In 2022 Mercier returned from his self-imposed exile (now with three children in his growing family), appearing to have not lost a single step from those five years off. He notched a 6th place finish in 2022's WSOP $50,000 High Roller Pot-Limit Omaha event, and 16th in the $10,000 Razz Championship, and earlier this year earned the first place prize in the PokerGO $25,000 10-Game Championship.
In this event, Mercier added his first bracelet since the two he won in 2016, using his signature brash style to power through the field, time and again making bold calls to snap off bluffs and capitalize on thin value.
Mercier discussed how he was able to continue where he left off when poker has changed so much in the intervening years. "Everyone's a lot better. The game is different. There's just not as many people that are drawing dead at the game."
But he admitted he hasn't studied up to prepare for the new poker strategies, preferring to hone his skills through play. "I'm not much of a studier. I just kind of play and get my experience by playing more hands. "So it's kind of like riding a bike, you know? I just hopped back on."
Watson has grinded continuously since finishing second in that $10,000 no-limit 2-7 event in 2016. At that time he was referred to as "one of the best poker players to not have won a bracelet". Although Watson continued to score cashes (he's currently 38th on the all-time money list), and multiple WPT, EPT, and Aussie Millions titles, he would be burdened with that appellation for another agonizing seven years. Unfortunately in his return match with Mercier he was unable to remove the "not to have won a bracelet" part of that moniker, but he burnished the "one of the best players" aspect to a high sheen.
For those who maybe hadn't seen him play until he made his second-place run in this event, his mastery of lowball was on full display. He fought back several times from being nearly felted on Day 3, started the Day 4 final table as the second short stack, and after blasting his way out of those jams, Watson proceeded to put on a lowball clinic. Several times he snowed when he had paired his high card, each time getting his opponents to fold their better hands. He mixed in those plays with ones where he seemed to find value every time he made a premium hand.
Day 4 Action
Erik Seidel was masterly in making a run at capturing his tenth-career WSOP bracelet and his second in no-limit 2-7, applying his many years of experience and wiles with a quiet deadliness that left a trail of busted players in his wake.
On Day 3 Seidel amassed a dominating chip lead and seemed the prohibitive favorite to take the crown to join only Johnny Chan, Phil Ivey and Doyle Brunson on that elite tier. But the loss of couple of crucial hands late on Day 3, and a double-up of Jon Turner to start Day 4 found him a sudden short stack.
On the hand that would end that hunt for a tenth bracelet, he went all in and Watson, who had cagily flatted Mercier's button raise, called Seidel's all in with a pat ten-seven. Seidel, who all tournament had been devastating opponents by forcing them to make impossible decisions on whether or not to break their ten-low hands, was now faced with the exact same decision. He ultimately made the correct decision but was not rewarded by fate when he was dealt a fatal queen, knocking him out in fifth place.
Jon Turner came into this event on the same list as Watson, as "one of the best to never win a bracelet". At the beginning of Day 3 he was sitting at a table with Phil Hellmuth, Brian Hastings, Brad Ruben, and Andrew Kellsall that boasted a combined 27 bracelets. Turner was the only one to make it to the final table, showing patience and selective aggression, putting to work the experience he had gained from seven lowball and mixed event final tables to navigate through that field of Hall of Famers and multiple bracelet winners, further distinguishing himself among his more decorated peers.
Turner began Day 4 as the shortest stack, and after an early double-up, he was once again forced to make a move. Unfortunately, on the particular hand he made that move he ran into Brad Ruben when Ruben had a pat ninety-eight, and Turner was unable to draw winning cards to his draw, ending his day in fourth place.
Day 3 chip leader Brad Ruben came in looking for his sixth bracelet and second of the lowball variety. His discernment and reading ability put him on the winning side of hands time and again, and with Seidel eliminated, Ruben looked primed to grasp that bracelet. But after doubling up Watson in an incredibly close hand, he was suddenly the short stack. His third place bust out would come at the hands of Mercier, when the queen Ruben drew to an eighty-seven draw just missed the mark of Mercier's pat jack, and that sixth bracelet would have to wait until another day.
Heads Up Play
And so, like it had it had 2016, it would all come down to Mercier and Watson. After ninety minutes of a back-and-forth heads-up battle, Mercier seized away the lead from Watson when, holding a ten-seven, he induced Watson to call with a jack-seven.
Mercier extended that lead by taking advantage of Watson's history of deft bluffing, checking to him with a jack-nine, and snapping when Watson bet with a pair of queens.
Mercier's relentless pressure soon backed Watson into a corner, and when Mercier bet to put Watson all in, he had no choice but to call. Watson still had a fighting chance when it was revealed each had a ten-eight draw, but Mercier drew better, hitting a five to Watson's one.
Despite Mike Watson's exceptional play in this tournament, his bracelet dream is still yet unattained. But he proved conclusively it's not a matter of if he wins one, just a matter of when.
With Day 1 of Event #69: $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Single Draw Championship having also started, Mercier was asked if he plans to join that illustrious field to take a run at back-to-back no-limit 2-7 bracelets. "Not right away, but I will. I'm going to get some food probably, and chill and then I'll hop in."
With four days demonstrating to the world that he is still a force to be reckoned with, Jason Mercier's meteoric rise to poker dominance has written a second verse, same as the first.
Look out poker, Jason Mercier is back.
That concludes PokerNews' coverage from the 2023 WSOP Event #33: $10,000 Razz Championship, but there is still plenty of tournament action to follow all summer long.
Click here to follow live updates from the 2023 WSOP Main Event!
Thursday, June 29, 2023 6:03 PM Local Time
Mike Watson Eliminated in 2nd Place ($93,495)
Jason Mercier open-shoved on the button and Mike Watson called all in for his final 2,250,000.
Both players had a ten-eight draw and got their final card dealt. Watson revealed a and Mercier looked down at the .
"I win," Mercier cheered and went over to shake Watson's hand before celebrating with his rail. With the win, Mercier now finds himself in very selected company as a six-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner, seven years after his last victory.
Mike Watson, undoubtedly one of the best players yet to win the coveted prize, will have to wait for another time to finally cross it off his bucket list. He received $93,495 to add to his $20M+ in lifetime winnings for his accomplishment.
|Jason Mercier||13,700,000||2,225,000 |
|Mike Watson||0||-2,250,000 |
Thursday, June 29, 2023 5:56 PM Local Time
Watson on Fumes
Mike Watson completed and Jason Mercier bumped it up to 700,000 with . Watson called and drew one while Mercier stood pat.
Watson was already drawing stone dead going into the draw, and caught the to end up with a ten-eight to Mercier's ten-seven. Mercier checked, Watson bet 1,700,000, and Mercier instantly called to leave Watson with just 11 big blinds.
|Jason Mercier||11,475,000||1,950,000 |
|Mike Watson||2,250,000||-1,950,000 |
Thursday, June 29, 2023 5:51 PM Local Time
Mercier Extends His Lead
Mike Watson min-raised to 400,000 and Jason Mercier called. Watson opted to draw one, keeping , while Mercier drew two holding .
Mercier found two cards he needed to end up with . Watson, on the contrary, ended up with one of the worst possible hands with .
Mercier checked, Watson bet 550,000, and Mercier snapped it off almost before Watson had even muttered the words.
|Jason Mercier||9,525,000||1,795,000 |
|Mike Watson||4,200,000||-1,800,000 |0
Thursday, June 29, 2023 5:41 PM Local Time
A Rare Flush for Mercier
Jason Mercier completed and Mike Watson checked his option. Watson took two and Mercier followed suit.
Watson paired up with and checked. Mercier started with three diamonds and drew two more to end up with , relevant as flushes still count against the player in 2-7 Single Draw.
He tried to take it with a bet of 450,000 but couldn't get Watson off his pair.
"Flush is bad, yeah?" Mercier inquired.
"Bad, really bad," Watson confirmed.
"Just making sure, maybe I should've tabled it," Mercier said with a chuckle.
|Jason Mercier||7,730,000||-300,000 |
|Mike Watson||6,000,000||300,000 |
Thursday, June 29, 2023 5:29 PM Local Time
Mercier Overtakes Watson
Mike Watson raised to 450,000 and Jason Mercier called. Mercier drew two cards while Watson took one.
Both players improved to a strong hand after the draw, with Mercier having the best of it with against Watson's .
Mercier checked to Watson, who bet 1,200,000. Mercier quickly called to wrestle the chip lead away from "SirWatts".
|Jason Mercier||8,030,000||1,955,000 |
|Mike Watson||5,700,000||-1,950,000 |
Thursday, June 29, 2023 5:25 PM Local Time
Back and Forth
Mike Watson retains a small lead over Jason Mercier after exchanging a few small pots over the past minutes, with Mercier slowly making up the difference.
|Mike Watson||7,650,000||-950,000 |
|Jason Mercier||6,075,000||950,000 |
Thursday, June 29, 2023 5:19 PM Local Time
A Shove from Mercier
Mike Watson raised to 450,000 with and Jason Mercier three-bet shoved 4,825,000 with a made . Watson briefly considered it but ended up folding.
|Mike Watson||8,600,000||525,000 |
|Jason Mercier||5,125,000||-525,000 |
Thursday, June 29, 2023 5:14 PM Local Time
Mercier Can't Bluff Watson
Jason Mercier raised to 450,000 and Mike Watson called. Both players took two apiece.
Watson ended up with and checked. Mercier had and tried to bluff at it with a bet of 650,000. Watson wasn't going anywhere and quickly snapped it off to win the hand.
|Mike Watson||8,075,000||-100,000 |
|Jason Mercier||5,650,000||100,000 |0
Thursday, June 29, 2023 5:09 PM Local Time
Pat Eight for Watson
In the previous hand, Jason Mercier raised to 450,000 with . Mike Watson looked down at and stuck in a three-bet to 1,400,000, to which Mercier quickly folded.
In the next hand, Watson got dealt an even better starting hand with and raised to 450,000 himself. Mercier defended and pitched the aces, while Watson stood pat with his monster.
Mercier improved to a queen low with and checked. Watson bet 600,000 and Mercier correctly dediced against it.
|Mike Watson||8,175,000||1,200,000 |
|Jason Mercier||5,550,000||-1,200,000 |
Thursday, June 29, 2023 5:05 PM Local Time
Nearly Equal Stacks
Mike Watson raised to 450,000 and Jason Mercier called. Mercier drew one and Watson drew two.
Mercier ended up with and bet 300,000. Watson caught two queens to go with his and gave it up.
|Mike Watson||6,975,000||-430,000 |
|Jason Mercier||6,750,000||440,000 |
Thursday, June 29, 2023 4:57 PM Local Time
Level 31 started
Thursday, June 29, 2023 4:55 PM Local Time
Value for Mercier
Mike Watson raised to 350,000 with , and Jason Mercier called with . Mercier drew one and Watson drew two.
Mercier completed his jack with , while Watson paired up with .
Mercier bet 460,000, Watson wasn't a believer and called it off with a pair of fours.
|Mike Watson||7,405,000||-730,000 |
|Jason Mercier||6,310,000||730,000 |
Thursday, June 29, 2023 4:50 PM Local Time
Watson Takes the Lead
Mike Watson raised to 350,000 with and Jason Mercier three-bet to 1,170,000 with . Watson contemplated his options before settling on a call.
Mercier patted his rough jack while Watson flung one of his sevens in the muck. He caught the to get there with a ninety-seven.
Mercier checked, and Watson carefully cut out a pot-sized bet of 2,600,000. Mercier slumped back in his chair, visibly unpleased with the situation.
It took the American about thirty seconds before settling on a fold, surrendering the chip lead to Watson in the process.
|Mike Watson||8,135,000||1,785,000 |
|Jason Mercier||5,580,000||-1,785,000 |0
Thursday, June 29, 2023 4:45 PM Local Time
Better Jack for Watson
Mike Watson raised to 350,000 and Jason Mercier defended his big blind. Both players drew one card.
Mercier ended up with after the draw and checked. Watson made a better jack with and bet 475,000. Mercier called to see the bad news appear on the felt.
|Jason Mercier||7,365,000||355,000 |
|Mike Watson||6,350,000||-355,000 |
Thursday, June 29, 2023 4:36 PM Local Time
Jason Mercier - Mike Watson Heads Up
Thursday, June 29, 2023 4:32 PM Local Time
Brad Ruben Eliminated in 3rd Place ($63,505)
Brad Ruben shoved all in for 655,000 on the button and Mike Watson called from the small blind. Jason Mercier called as well from the big blind.
Watson elected to draw one, Mercier stood pat, and Ruben drew one. Both Watson and Mercier checked after the draw.
Mercier showed his pat , good enough to beat Watson's . Ruben ended up with and saw his attempt to win his fifth bracelet come up just short.
|Jason Mercier||7,010,000||2,115,000 |
|Mike Watson||6,705,000||-60,000 |
|Brad Ruben||0||-2,055,000 |
Thursday, June 29, 2023 4:22 PM Local Time
Watson Doubles Through Ruben, Ruben Triples Through Watson and Mercier
Jason Mercier kicked off the action by raising 320,000 from the button. Brad Ruben called from the small blind, but then Mike Watson shoved all in for 3,405,000, with .
Mercier immediately folded, but Ruben gave careful consideration, holding . After asking Watson for a count, he put in the calling chips.
Ruben discarded one of his deuces, and Watson one of his fours. Watson caught a queen, and Ruben paired the four, decimating his stack and giving Watson the huge double up.
On the next hand, on the button, Ruben stuck his remaining 605,000 into the middle, Watson called from the small blind, and Mercier from the big.
Ruben drew one to , Watson two to , and Mercier two to . Watson paired an eight, Mercier made jack-ten, and Ruben jack-nine, and bounced back with the triple up.
|Mike Watson||6,765,000||3,120,000 |
|Jason Mercier||4,895,000||-1,165,000 |
|Brad Ruben||2,055,000||-1,955,000 |
Thursday, June 29, 2023 4:10 PM Local Time
Ruben Doubles Through Watson
Mike Watson raised to 350,000 on the button, Brad Ruben three-bet shoved 1,845,000 from the small blind and Watson called after about a minute. Both players decided to draw one card.
Watson flipped a and Ruben turned over a for the double-up.
"Let's go!" Ruben shouted, echoed by even louder fans on the rail.
|Jason Mercier||6,060,000||-80,000 |
|Brad Ruben||4,010,000||1,730,000 |
|Mike Watson||3,645,000||-2,325,000 |0
Thursday, June 29, 2023 4:06 PM Local Time
Ruben Pays Off Mercier
Brad Ruben raised to 180,000 on the button with and Jason Mercier defended the big blind with . Mercier drew one while Ruben patted the queen-jack.
Mercier improved with a and decided to lead with a bet of 190,000. Ruben reluctantly paid it off.
|Jason Mercier||6,140,000||1,250,000 |
|Brad Ruben||2,280,000||-1,205,000 |