EPT9 Prague High Roller: Jason Mercier centre stage

Even if things aren't going so well, Jason Mercier is the kind of player who hogs the limelight in any tournament he plays. His will-he, won't-he (play or fly home) approach to the €10,000 High Roller was the dominant story of the opening couple of days, particularly when he took the chip lead and then made it to the final table.

Now the final nine have reconvened, it is still all about Mercier. He doubled up on first hand of the day, filling a flush with K♣Q♣ to beat Sorel Mizzi's [10d]9♣ (they got it all in pre-flop from button and big blind) but now he is armed with the big stack again, others are taking pot-shots at the Team PokerStars Pro.


Jason Mercier, on day two of the High Roller event

Marcin Wydrowski was the first to take a stab at Mercier, open-shoving on Mercier's big blind. Mercier thought about this one for a good long while, and certainly seemed as though he was going to call. He didn't however, and let it go. Perhaps the decision was still playing on his mind on the next hand, when Mercier was in the small blind and three-bet Juha Helppi's raise from the button.

Helppi shoved for 483,000 and Mercier this time found a call, tabling A♠9♥. Helppi was in danger but had the better hand: A♣J♣. Mercier has a reputation for flipping exceptionally well, and he also doesn't mind the occasional outdraw from way behind. And when the flop fell 9♦Q♥K♦, Mercier had taken the lead.


Juha Helppi, pictured on day two

But the J♠ rivered (after the 5♦ on the turn) and that allowed Helppi a measured fist pump as he got his stack up close to a million. Mercier was now down to the 400,000-odd with which he started the day and forced to build again.

There are nine left still in the tournament, where blinds are 12,000-24,000 and the average stack is only about 630,000, or 26 big blinds. Conversely, the main event is currently eight handed, playing 25,000-50,000, with an average stack of more than 60 big blinds. The High Rollers started later and played fewer days, but chances are they will be done way sooner.

The other tournaments playing to a finish today include the €1,000 heads up event and the €1,000 no limit hold'em, with 30-minute levels. They are all down to their last few players: the eight quarter finalists in the case of the heads up and a final table of nine in the €1,000.

All of those tables, including the High Roller, are taking place in a roped off corner of the main tournament room, alongside the start of the ever-popular €300+€30 turbo. You can keep abreast of all the side event news on the side event page. Poker never stops.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour