EPT9 Sanremo: This day in history: The crowning of Jason Mercier
It's a story often told among poker circles, dusted off whenever a final table passes the ten hour mark or play slows to an unbearable crawl. It is of course the story of the first ever EPT Sanremo final table back in Season 4. More important than the destination, however, was the time it took to finish: eight players to one in two hours 40 minutes.
It also featured a top grade line up. Usually when you report on something so closely for several days you naturally hope for a final of eight players with gilded resumes. The reality is usually just one players you know something about. But Sanremo Season 4 had it all, a mixture of top pros, gifted new arrivals and the guy nobody had heard of who had fifth place locked up.
First there was Dario Minieri, who was elevated to the status of national hero by the partisan local press who brought with them friends, family and homemade banners to ensure Minieri knew he was on home turf.
Then there was William Thorson, a giant of a player who never shied from making clear his intention that he was in poker to win titles. Similarly driven was the Frenchman Anthony Lellouche, now among the old guard of poker, who already had a reputation as being among the best from France.
Most significantly however was the presence of Jason Mercier, a 21-year-old former teacher from Fort Lauderdale who had won his seat online and travelled to Europe with friends. Actually, he nearly skipped the event altogether when his pals went on a trip to Amsterdam.
Mercier waits for the final showdown
It was a tempting offer but Mercier opted to play what was then only his second ever live event. It was a decision that would be worth €869,000 and a further $7 million over the next four years.
1st - Jason Mercier - United States - PokerStars qualifier -- €869,000
2nd - Antony Lellouche - France -- €505,000
3rd - Dario Minieri - Italy - Team PokerStars Pro - 287,000
4th - Eric Koskas - France - PokerStars qualifier - €223,600
5th - Gregory Genovese - Italy - €188,500
6th - William Thorson - Sweden - €140,600
7th - Dag Palovic - Slovakia - €111,800
8th - Marcus Bower - United States - PokerStars qualifier - €76,700
A great final, but it was all over so fast. The heads-up lasted just two hands. It was over to early that Mercier became the first champion to have his winner's photo taken outside, in broad daylight. So far he's the first and only.
Mercier in broad daylight
Keep an eye on the live tournament reporting from EPT Sanremo for all the news from the tournament floor.