Once on top of the Poker world, where has Jason Mercier been?

“I see guys winning their fourth or fifth, and I’m like, ‘Man, if I just played the last five years, I would have like 15 [gold bracelets].’”

Five-time WSOP gold bracelet winner Jason Mercier burst onto the poker scene in 2008 with a victory in the European Poker Tour Sanremo Main Event for nearly $1,400,000. An unknown youngster on the poker scene, it was the first-ever live tournament cash he recorded and put him firmly on the poker map. We’ve seen many players over the years come in, make a splash, and then fizzle out or simply linger, but that wasn’t the case with Mercier.

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Mercier quickly rose to the top of the game, winning the first of five WSOP gold bracelets in 2009 as he began to rack up big score after big score in tournaments all around the world. Mercier was one of the faces of PokerStars Team Pro, he appeared on High Stakes Poker, and almost won an unthinkable bracelet bet against Vanessa Selbst in 2016. Life was good for Mercier, and poker might’ve been better, but then he settled down and spent more time away from the tables than at them.

“I miss it a lot, honestly,” Mercier said, who was back at the WSOP in Las Vegas for the first time in a few years. “The last time I was here, I was leaving the World Series of Poker in 2019. My wife Natasha was pregnant with our second child. She gave birth in September of that year, and then, the pandemic hit and we just never ended up coming back. Plus, the World Series didn’t happen in one year. And then, you know, it was during the winter and just ended up skipping.”

Jason Mercier with a big stack at the WSOP tables.

If you look at Mercier’s live tournament record as tracked by HendonMob.com, you’ll see a noticeable drop-off in results after 2018. From August 2018 until now, Mercier has just five live tournament results. Even in 2018, his volume was down and his cashes fewer as a result.

“I’ve really played a lot less than I did in the last five years,” Mercier said. “The last five years I played almost as a part-time player since having kids. During the last three years, I played a little bit online here and there. There were points where I was playing a lot. You know, there was a game running where it was an online club and I played 40 hours a week for a few months. But there’s been times when I’ve gone months without playing any hands of poker. I would say that I’m not rusty because of that, you know, staying fresh. But for me, poker in the last decade has always been like riding a bike. Even if I take a long break, I still feel super comfortable playing.”

When speaking to Mercier, he was on dinner break in the 2022 WSOP $50,000 Pot-Limit Omaha High Roller event. The event had 106 entries to create a prize pool larger than $5,000,000. He went on to finish sixth in the event for $260,815, pushing his career live-tournament earnings to more than $20,000,000.

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Mercier knows a thing or two about PLO tournaments. His first-ever WSOP gold bracelet came in the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha tournament at the 2009 WSOP. He also won the $5,000 PLO Six-Handed event at the 2011 WSOP and placed second in the $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Championship in 2015. With more than $2,000,000 in prize money, Mercier currently sits fourth on the WSOP’s all-time Omaha money list, per HendonMob.com.

Now a husband and father of three, Mercier said that “dad life” has changed his outlook on poker, as it has for many before him. The days of long sessions grinding cash games for days and days have ended, as have flying all around the world to play whatever major tournament series is running at the time. Maybe we shouldn’t say those days have ended, but rather, they’ve been put on pause.

“I’m not playing any 48-hour sessions, that’s for sure,” Mercier said. “I’m exhausted right now. I could sleep in two seconds if I laid down. You look back at those times and you’re like, ‘Man, what was I doing? That was kind of crazy.’ But also, I was young, I didn’t have any kids, and no real responsibilities. Back then I was playing a lot of hours, trying to make a lot of money, and now I take it easy a little more; enjoy the time that I’m able to play when I get to play, and mostly focus on my family and raising my kids.”

The “pause” on playing full time could be over sooner rather than later for Mercier. During the $50,000 PLO High Roller, Mercier mentioned to others that he’ll likely be back full time at the WSOP in two years. His kids will be older and family life will be a little more settled in. We’ve already witnessed the return of Phil Ivey at the 2022 WSOP after taking some time off from playing WSOP events every single day during a series, and now it seems the countdown is on for Mercier getting back into the mix in a similar fashion.

“I’m not positive what the future holds for how much I’m going to play,” Mercier said. “I could definitely see myself playing a full schedule in a couple of years, maybe in two years from now, when my kids are a little older and they don’t need as much attention. For right now, it’s hard to even leave them for a few nights … I would love to play every single tournament here. I would love to make bracelet bets again. It would be a lot of fun, but it’s a big, big time commitment and something that I hope to do maybe later on in life.”

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