Saturday, June 18, 2016 11:56 AM Local Time
Jason Mercier is on the poker heater of a lifetime.
The 29-year-old South Florida poker star won the $10,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. Championship, which was played over three long days and nights and just concluded on the ESPN main stage at the Rio in Las Vegas at around 3:30 am, while the blurry-eyed poker world reacted with shock and awe.
Mercier collected $422,874 in prize money, making this one of the biggest wins of his career, which was due largely to some widely-reported enormous side action (by some accounts, up to $1.8 million) which could conceivably make this part of a much bigger financial windfall.
Indeed, much of the talk swirling around Day Three action focused on the remarkable run Mercier is experiencing at this year’s WSOP, and specifically just this past week. He’d already posted first and second-place finishes and was the chip leader much of the way in yet another $10K buy-in event stacked with heavyweights.
During the middle of the final day, however, Mercier looked to be close to elimination a number of times. But on each occasion, the veteran tournament pro bounced back and jumped back into contention. He then became embattled in a bitter fight in the heads-up battle what see-sawed back and forth for nearly two hours.
No stage of the tournament was bigger for Mercier than when he was down by about a 7 to 1 margin, and just a hand away from going bust, which would have been devastating given the possibility of finishing second in a championship-level event within a four-day span with so much on the line. However, demonstrating a gutsiness that was perhaps unseen previously, Mercier carefully plotted his strategy and slowly clawed away at his opponent’s advantage.
The moment of triumph came when Mercier was dealt 5-3 off-suit and scooped the final pot of the tournament to wild cheers from the partisan crowd by making an ace-to-five straight against James Obst from Australia, who finished as the runner up.
The joy of winning was made even sweeter by Mercier’s father being present, which was the first time he’s witnessed his son win a gold bracelet in person. Mercier is expected to be presented with his fifth career gold bracelet by his father onstage at the Rio in a ceremony to be held on Sunday, June 19th.
When asked to explain what he might be doing different now than before that’s clearly put him on a different level, Mercier was candid about the swings of the game.
“I can’t explain it. Before this (year’s WSOP), I bricked like 30 tournaments in a row. I forgot how many it’s been. I also bricked the first nine WSOP events,” Mercier said. “Oh, but then I finished first, second, and first. That kinda’ makes up for it.”
Mercier now has 50 cashes in series events, along with 18 final table appearances, and a whopping $4,456,952 in prize money won, just in WSOP tournaments. Scary to say, but he’s not finished yet. It remains to be seen if Mercier can break the elite ranks of the three-win club in a single year, which is definitely a possibility on the horizon with the WSOP not yet having reached the midway point.
“I got to get to the final table first, but there are so many big tournaments left that have big field sizes,” Mercier said. “They will have small fields that I think I will have an edge in. I haven’t even played a PLO event: I will have a great chance in those. There will be a lot of buzz and hopefully my friends will be around and I’ll get to take it down.
Only 24 players in poker history have won five or more WSOP titles. The FIVE CLUB includes notable legends including Berry Johnston, Scotty Nguyen, Stu Ungar, and others.
This historic tourney attracted 171 entrants which created a prize pool totaling $1,607,400. But all they’ll be talking about when this event goes down in the history books is the ascendancy of Mercier to the top of the poker world, who is arguably the best tournament player in the game at the moment.
Aside from the winner, here’s a brief report of the other top finishers who made the final table:
Second Place: James Obst, from Adelaide, Australia finished as the runner up. By collecting $261,354 this marked his biggest cash score at the WSOP. He now has 10 in-the-money finishes and five final table appearances. Obst came within a hand or two of winning a gold bracelet in this event and will certainly be a player to watch closely in the events and years to come.
Third Place: Nick Schulman, from New York City is a two-time gold bracelet winner – victorious in 2009 and 2012 for winning the same event, which was Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball. He became short-stacked during the later stages of this more recent event and couldn’t put a dent in the stacks of the two players who finished above him. Nonetheless, Schulman added another $183,779 in winnings to go along with more than $2.1 million in previous earnings at the series. This was his 29th time to cash, dating back to 2006 during the heart of the poker boom.
Fourth Place: Adam Friedman, from Cahanna, OH a gold bracelet winner in 2012 ($5K Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split) collected his biggest prize at the WSOP since that win by finished in fourth place. He earned $131,519. This marked his 16th time to cash at the series, and pushed him over the $1 million mark in career earnings.
Fifth Place: Mikhail Semin, from Moscow, Russia ended up finishing fifth. Remarkably, this was his third final table appearance at this year’s series – cumulating in two 5ths and a 7th. This was yet another impressive performance, worth $95,817 to the Russian who is clearly in the running for the “Player of the Year” race given his point totals. Semin also cashed five times as last year’s series.
Sixth Place: Jesse Martin, from Shrewsbury, MA took sixth place. The gold bracelet winner at the 2013 WSOP ($10K Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball) has now cashed 46 times dating all the way back to 2004. He’s also collected more than $1.6 in WSOP earnings after adding $71,089 to his resume for this finish.
Seventh Place: Yuval Bronshtein, a former WSOP gold ring winner, made his ninth WSOP cash, but he’s yet to win a gold bracelet. This was also the 34th career cash for the poker pro who splits time between the U.S. and Israel. Bronshtein collected $53,729, which now puts him over $1 million in WSOP earnings.
Eighth Place: Bryn Kenney, a gold bracelet winner (2014 Ten-Game Mix, Six-Handed) posted his 31st cash at the series and first in-the-money finish this year. Kenney, who now has more than $1.6 million in career earnings at the annual Las Vegas summer classic, pocketed $41,383.
This was the 24th gold bracelet event on this year’s schedule. This leaves 45 still to go in what promises to be the biggest and most exciting WSOP ever, made all the more thrilling by the rising star that is Jason Mercier.
Saturday, June 18, 2016 3:43 AM Local Time
Jason Mercier - $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Champion
Jason Mercier raises on the button and James Obst calls, and is all in for 300,000. Mercier shows and needs to improve against Obst's .
The flop is and the rail erupts as Mercier flops an open-ended straight draw. The turn is the and Mercier's supporters erupts in cheers.
Obst still has a sweat with a gutshot to a bigger straight. The river is the and Mercier wins the pot, the tournament, and his second bracelet of the summer. Mercier earns $422,874 for his second bracelet of the summer and fifth of his career. Obst finishes just shy of his first career bracelet and takes home $261,354 for his runner-up finish.
Jason Mercier- $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Champion
James Obst - Eliminated in 2nd Place
James Obst (left) Elimnated in 2nd Place
Saturday, June 18, 2016 3:33 AM Local Time
James Obst limps in on the button and Jason Mercier raises out of the big blind. Obst calls and the flop is . Mercier bets, Obst raises, Mercier makes it three bets and Obst calls.
The turn is the and Mercier bets. Obst calls and leaves himself with about 300,000. The river is the and Mercier bets again. Obst spends a minute in the tank before folding and leaving himself with less than a big bet.
Jason Mercier - 8,255,000
James Obst - 300,000
Saturday, June 18, 2016 3:30 AM Local Time
James Obst raises on the button and Jason Mercier calls from the big blind. The flop is and Mercier checks. Obst bets, Mercier raises, Obst makes it three bets and they get the last of Obst's chips into the middle.
"We need a jack or a club," says Mercier to his rail.
Mercier shows and is up against Obst's . The turn is the , giving Mercier a few more outs, and the river is the to give Obst a double up.
James Obst - 1,670,000
Jason Mercier - 6,885,000
Saturday, June 18, 2016 3:22 AM Local Time
James Obst is all in for his last 485,000 before the flop and Jason Mercier calls.
Mercier and his rail are shocked to find that Obst holds two aces and is in a commanding position. The two watch on as the board runs out , allowing Obst to score the double.
James Obst - 970,000
Jason Mercier - 7,585,000
Saturday, June 18, 2016 3:21 AM Local Time
Here is the structure for Level 27:
||Bring-in or Small Blind
or Big Blind
Saturday, June 18, 2016 3:20 AM Local Time
Saturday, June 18, 2016 3:20 AM Local Time
James Obst raises from the button and Jason Mercier three-bets from the big blind. Obst calls and the two take a flop of . Mercier continues out and Obst folds.
Jason Mercier - 8,105,000
James Obst - 450,000
Saturday, June 18, 2016 3:18 AM Local Time
Jason Mercier raises from the button and James Obst calls from the big blind. The flop falls and Obst check-calls a continuation bet from Mercier.
The turn is the and Obst checks a second time. Mercier continues his aggression with a bet and Obst calls. The hits the river and Obst checks one last time. Mercier bets, Obst calls, and Mercier shows for top two pair. Obst mucks and Mercier takes down the pot.
Jason Mercier - 7,705,000
James Obst - 850,000
Saturday, June 18, 2016 3:11 AM Local Time
Jason Mercier: /
James Obst: / (fold)
Jason Mercier brings it in with the , James Obst completes with the , Mercier raises, and Obst calls.
Mercier bets fourth street, Obst calls, Mercier bets fifth street with his open pair of aces, and Obst folds.
Jason Mercier - 6,455,000
James Obst - 2,100,000
Saturday, June 18, 2016 3:04 AM Local Time
James Obst: / /
Jason Mercier: / /
James Obst brings it in with a nine and Jason Mercier completes with an eight. Obst comes over the top with a raise and Mercier makes it three bets. Obst calls.
Mercier has first action on fourth street and he bets. Obst calls and does the same to bets on fifth, sixth, and seventh streets. Mercier rolls over for an eight-five low. Obst mucks and Mercier is awarded the pot.
Jason Mercier - 5,705,000
James Obst - 2,850,000
Saturday, June 18, 2016 2:56 AM Local Time
Jason Mercier raises on the button and James Obst makes it three bets out of the big blind. Mercier calls and they see a flop of . Obst bets and Mercier calls. The turn is the and both players check to see the come on the river.
Obst bets and Mercier takes a few moments before calling. Obst shows , giving him a pair of aces and a live deuce. Mercier mucks and Obst scoops the whole pot.
James Obst - 2,855,000
Jason Mercier - 5,700,000
Saturday, June 18, 2016 2:53 AM Local Time
Jason Mercier raises on the button and James Obst calls out of the big blind. The flop is and Obst checks. Mercier bets and Obst raises. Mercier calls and the turn is the .
Obst checks, Mercier bets, and Obst calls. The river is the and Obst checks again. Mercier bets and Obst thinks for a while before folding.
Jason Mercier - 6,155,000
James Obst - 2,400,000
Saturday, June 18, 2016 2:47 AM Local Time
Jason Mercier raises from the button and James Obst calls from the big blind. The flop reads and Obst checks. Mercier continues out and Obst comes over the top with a raise. Mercier makes it three bets and Obst calls.
The falls on fourth street and the action goes check-check. The finishes off the community cards and both players check once again. Mercier shows for ten-high and Obst mucks his hand.
Jason Mercier - 5,980,000
James Obst - 2,575,000
Saturday, June 18, 2016 2:45 AM Local Time
James Obst raises from the button and Jason Mercier calls from the big blind. The flop falls and Mercier checks to the raiser. Obst continues out only to have Mercier come over the top with a check-raise. Obst calls.
The falls on the turn and Mercier bets. Obst calls and the board pairs on the river with the . Mercier bets one last time and Obst calls.
"Full house," says Mercier, rolling over .
Mercier's rail begins wildly cheering while Obst mucks his hand.
Jason Mercier - 5,875,000
James Obst - 2,680,000
Saturday, June 18, 2016 2:41 AM Local Time
Jason Mercier raises on the button and James Obst calls out of the big blind. The flop is and Obst checks. Mercier bets and Obst calls. The turn is the and Obst checks. Mercier bets and Obst calls.
The river is the and Obst checks. Mercier bets and Obst thinks for a minute before tossing in a call. Mercier shows , good for two pair and Obst tosses his hand into the muck.
Jason Mercier - 4,755,000
James Obst - 3,800,000
Saturday, June 18, 2016 2:38 AM Local Time
James Obst raises on the button and Jason Mercier calls from the big blind. The flop is and Mercier checks. Obst bets, Mercier raises, and Obst calls. The turn is the and Mercier checks. Obst bets and Mericer calls.
The river is the and Mercier checks again. Obst bets and Mercier quickly calls. Obst shows and Mercier mucks his hand. Obst drags the pot and takes back the chip lead.
James Obst - 5,155,000
Jason Mercier - 3,400,000
Saturday, June 18, 2016 2:32 AM Local Time
Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo
James Obst: / /
Jason Mercier: / /
James Obst brings it in with a nine and Jason Mercier completes with a ten. Mercier has first action on fourth street and he leads with a bet. Obst comes over the top with a raise and Mercier sticks around.
Mercier retains first action on fifth street and he fires right back with a bet. Obst calls and does the same to another bet on sixth street. Mercier bets one final time on seventh, sending Obst into the tank. He thinks for just under a minute before releasing his cards. Mercier takes down the pot and regains the chip lead.
Jason Mercier - 4,895,000
James Obst - 3,660,000
Saturday, June 18, 2016 2:23 AM Local Time
Seven Card Stud
Jason Mercier: /
James Obst: / .
James Obst is the bring in with a ten and Jason Mercier completes with a jack. Mercier open pairs his jacks on fourth, while Obst hits a nine.
Mercier takes the lead and bets. Obst folds and Mercier is nearing a dead-even chip count with Obst.
Jason Mercier - 3,800,000
James Obst - 4,755,000
Saturday, June 18, 2016 2:22 AM Local Time
Here is the structure for Level 26:
||Bring-in or Small Blind
or Big Blind
| Flop Games