Jason Mercier is one of the top players in the world. Doesn't matter if it's online or live poker, Mercier is regarded as one of the best. Despite the success, he's never in the same place for too long. Mercier is constantly on the road playing the international circuit, but Club Poker Radio's Gaëlle Jaudon finally tracked him down for an interview. Mercier reveals how he regained focused playing tournaments and what he recently did to stop a downswing during a horrendous start to the summer of 2015.
The gossip girl for Club Poker Radio (France), Gaëlle Jaudon, recently caught up with Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier. Here is her interview…
Gaëlle Jaudon: You won a bracelet this summer, but you said it was one of the worst summers of your life, can you explain what happened?
Jason Mercier: Yeah, this summer started very poorly. I was down a lot in tournaments, side bets, cash games, almost everything, so winning the bracelet was really nice. It was a turning point for me during this summer. In fact, it like pretty much got me to even. I had a good summer after that, I got second in PLO for 570K, cashed the 50K, and I won (in August) the limit hold'em High Roller Hard Rock Open. So, it's a good ending!
GJ: How do you manage these huge downswings? By taking more risks?
JM: Not necessarily taking more risks... I would say more redefining my focus. I wasn't really focused before the summer started and I was starting losing pretty much every cash game session, so I decided to focus mainly on the tournaments. I only played tournaments these last months. I've decided it was easier for me to evaluate my risks in tournaments. I evaluated there were maybe 200K left on tournaments to play so I really focused on those and I've decided to figure it out after that. One step at a time.
GJ: It seems you like side bets a lot… can we say you're a big gambler?
JM: (Laughs) Yeah. I lost a huge bet against Brian Hastings this summer, but… all poker players are gamblers in their own way. I really enjoy betting on the side, especially against other poker players. It's just fun for me and it makes it more exciting, and also during smaller tournaments it gives me more interest.
My number one goal now is to be GPI #1 and maintain it for as long as possible.
GJ: You always lived in Florida even if you can't pay online here, how is the game offer over there?
JM: Poker really blew up in Florida over the last decade, there are big tournaments now at the Hard Rock and WPT events too in Jacksonville maybe two times a year. It's really nice to see poker growing like that in Florida, I never really considered leaving because my family and friends are here, they're now having kids and it's really important for me to be able at least to spend a few months with my family and nephews and nieces etc. Many poker players live over there and the cash games are really interesting too. Live poker is big.
GJ: How did you evolve to play more mix games and what do you think of today's offering of mixed-game live tournaments?
JM: Mixed games, I think, started in 2010. I started playing limit games much more, and practicing so I can play 8-Game online. The games were good enough, so it was a lot of practice and since then I just try to get better at them! There are not too many mixed-game tournaments. It's really hard to play only mixed games for sure because outside of the WSOP, there are not too many of them. It's too expensive to play only one or two events, so mixed-game specialists don't travel so much. There is maybe five interesting limit, HORSE or 8-Game tournaments over the year, so if you're a mixed-game player, you have to be able to play both cash games and live.
GJ: You're well respected as a top pro now in poker, what are your new goals?
JM: I guess my number one goal now is to be GPI #1 and maintain it for as long as possible. I think right now I should be second, so I have to score more points to overtake first place. We always want to be first!
GJ: On your blog you wrote something like you really separate poker life and private life, and that in fact, people never really knew you. Can you explain it and how do you find the good balance?
JM: It's definitely difficult going from one extreme to the other. When I'm with my family... it's very relaxed. No gambling, no real talk of money, normal life. But in this poker world, it's just about constantly trying to make money. Play, work, travel, money, everything goes so quick, so it's a totally different life. It's been hard to find the balance, but I'm still working on it and trying to figure out how this goes.
JASON MERCIER ON HIS FUTURE
It was definitely a rollercoaster over the last seven years playing poker. I never really thought of quitting but it always kind in the back of my head like "How long I am gonna do this for, or how long can I do this for?" But right now, I feel I'm playing really well and I not considering quitting.
GJ: What have you changed to stay at the top level for so many years?
JM: I'm not too sure. I think I'm a talented player and it also has a lot to do with my work ethic, constantly making sure that I'm playing well, and talking a lot with other top players about hands that I played, and questioning my decisions to be sure that I'm playing well even I'm going to a downswing, and constantly making sure that I'm playing my A-game. So it's not only talent but also a lot of serious work, and you have to be able to question yourself and have a healthy life. Sleeping well is really important. I struggled with good sleep for many years.
GJ: You became famous really young, how did you manage the media blitz?
JM: Hmmmm.... not really sure. I never expected to be a PokerStars Pro or anything like that when I was 21, so I just tried to take in this ride and go one step at a time. I definitely had to learn on the go and it was something I've gotten used to. I handle this better now for sure than when I was very young. I've learned to be open and normal in front of the cameras and Daniel Negreanu helped me a lot with that!
GJ: Do you like traveling for poker so much or is it boring now?
JM: I wouldn't say it's boring but… it's exhausting. I don't really enjoy traveling too much but I enjoy playing poker so, traveling is just a part of the job. It is nice sometimes to be able to see so many different places but I never really visit so much because I play a lot. What I really don't enjoy is the constant packing, never being settle somewhere, time zone, stuff like that, it's exhausting and that's why you have to keep an healthy life.
GJ: Can you say you feel better now than when you started poker? Did you ever think of quitting?
JM: I'm about the same. I was pretty happy when I was a kid and it was definitely a rollercoaster over the last seven years playing poker. I never really thought of quitting but it always kind in the back of my head like "How long I am gonna do this for or how long can I do this for?" But right now, I feel I'm playing really well and I not considering quitting poker. I can see myself doing it for another 3, 5 or 10 years.
GJ: Who are your most difficult opponents?
JM: Pretty much all the players between 25 and early 30. There is a ton of 25 to 30-year old top players. If you look at the top 50 GPI, maybe 40 of them are between 25 and 30, they worked on their game a lot and already have experience. They are the most difficult to play with.
GJ: You started a business in Florida, can you talk about that?
JM: I started a food delivery business in south Florida like two years ago called "Doorstep" that connects restaurants with the customers. It was a really nice project. I'm not involved to be honest from a day to day standpoint. It's more a financial investment for me and it's been going pretty well so far, so I'm happy with that.