Mercier seventh and O'Kearney poised for feel-good win of the summer


Much like the Super High Rollers on the European Poker Tour, the Players Championship at the World Series of Poker is one of those awe inspiring tournaments.

These are the tournaments that you mention when you're trying to stagger someone. You know, the person who asks a rudimentary question about these poker tournaments you're keep talking about. So you give them all the barrels. $50,000 buy-in. $4 million prize pool. $1.2 million to the winner.

The Players Championship is unique in its format. Players must master, or at least survive, multiple rounds of hold'em, Omaha, draw, stud and hi/lo poker to even stand a chance. Put simply it separates the really good players from the very great players.

Those same people then ask something like "what does it take to be a really good poker player?" In that respect I usually give my stock answer. A good brain, a obliviousness, shall we say, when it comes to money, and several other qualities that I've not myself been able to put my finger on.

Sometimes I use the short answer, and simple show them a picture of Jason Mercier.

Earlier this summer Mercier proved this point. About a week ago he won a third career bracelet in the no-limit hold'em 6-handed event, a title worth $633,357. He didn't add a fourth in the Player's Championship last night, but he did finish seventh. For that Mercier earned a payday of $139,265.

No doubt Mercier will be disappointed he didn't go deeper. But it further erases the notion that he was having a bad summer, which was his diagnosis only days before he won Event #32. It's perhaps also a mark of a great player that they feel there is always more to be done. Indefatigable. Add that to what makes a great poker player.

One last hat tip for the day should go to a player who has over the years become both a regular, and a favourite on the UK and Ireland Poker Tour.

Irishman Dara O'Kearney came to the game relatively late, but from the start vowed to master it or get out. In much the same way that good players are always relearning the game, O'Kearney has become one of its most ardent and entertaining practitioners, and is now on the brink of proving it with a first bracelet.

dara_okearney_25june15_2.jpgDara O'Kearney

To do that O'Kearney needs only to defeat Texan Upeshka Desilva heads-up when Event #45 resumes tomorrow. Of course "only" doesn't tell the full story, as the Irishman trails five-to-one in chips. But should he be successful, and overcome that deficit, his will be the feel-good win of the summer.

Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.