NAPT Mohegan Sun Bounty Shootout: Jason Mercier notches another win
by Brad Willis and Change100
Jason Mercier is a winner.
If that seems too obvious a statement, we only point it out because it happens so often, we're afraid we're caught in a recurring dream sequence in which Mercier stands there with a trophy and a big smile on his face. It's not a bad dream, but we probably shouldn't be dreaming about Mercier so much.
In the past 24 months, Mercier has won--real, first place, defeated everybody, owned all the chips wins--nine major tournaments. How he does it seems different every time. Dominating wire to wire, coming from behind, coming from way behind...he's done it all and done it time and again.
It's almost spooky.
Tonight, he did it a little dirty, but he did it with grace, and pocketed prize money worth a published $475,000.
At no point would anyone expect a table full of unknowns at an NAPT High Roller event. Nonetheless, the NAPT Mohegan Sun $25,000 High Roller final table was standard-setting for the quality and experience expected for High Roller finalists.
Sam Stein was barely a month removed (and recovered) from his runner-up finish at the NAPT Venetian Main Event final table. Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier (aka, the guy who wins everything) won the EPT London High Roller event just a couple of years ago. Matt Glantz won the EPT London High Roller the year after that. Shawn Buchanan won a WPT event at Mandalay Bay just a few years back. Luis "Bachy" Vazquez won the Foxwoods Poker Classic just last month. Finally, Faraz Jaka made the final table of the NAPT Venetian High Roller Bounty Shootout in February.
If that isn't a final table for a High Roller event, we don't know what is.
The $25,000 buy-in weeds out a lot of people, and the shootout format is unique enough to favor players with single table tournament expertise. With the added element of a $5,000 bounty on every players' head, your average ABC tournament strategy goes out the window.
Our six remaining players had all secured first place at their Round 1 tables yesterday and came in today looking to scoop up the winner-take-all $350,000 prize. The first two levels saw no eliminations, but we witnessed satellite-winner Bachy Vazquez get bluffed out of a huge hand by Faraz Jaka. From there, it seemed like only a matter of time before Vazquez was all-in.
Vazquez pushed his final 25,700 all-in on a T♠7♠4♣ flop. Jaka called with K♥T♥, good enough to be well ahead of Vazquez's 5♣T♣. Vazquez managed to pick up a flush draw on the turn, but missed on the river. Although Vazquez won nothing today, he still pocketed the $70,000 he won in Round 1 (not at all bad after getting in on a $5,000 satellite entry).
Shawn Buchanan came out of Round 1 with four bounties to his name. While his tight image did him some good yesterday, he wasn't able to put together an hand or anything in the way of luck in the final.
In his final hand, Jason Mercier raised to 5,500 from the button and Buchanan called from the big blind. When the flop fell Q♣T♥4♣, Buchanan checked. Mercier led for 7,600 and Buchanan raised to 20,000. Mercier wasted no time shoving and Buchanan called. Buchanan was ahead with his Q♥T♣, but K♣3♣ looked scary. It was made even more so by the 9♠ on the turn. In the end, it was a 9♣ on the river and a flush for Mercier that sent Buchanan out in fifth place. Buchanan's four bounties and Round 1 table win earned him $80,000.
Matt Glantz spent most of the afternoon suffering the same card-dead inability to make a hand that had befallen Buchanan. So, when he finally picked up a pair of tens, he was happy to five-bet shove with them. Mercier made the fast call with a par of queens. Glantz never caught up and exited in fourth place. He pocketed $70,000 from his Round 1 win and the two bounties he collected.
It was only a few minutes later that Jason Mercier and Faraz Jaka began to tangle. Mercier opened for a 6,900 raise and Jaka moved all-in for 71,400. Mercier called and looked exceptionally unhappy when he saw Jaka's A♦K♣. Mercier only held A♠7♦. The J♣T♦7♣ flop put Mercier ahead, but when the 9♣ fell on the turn, Jaka picked up some more outs. The river, however, paired the board with the J♥ and Jaka was gone. His total take for the event was $80,000 in bounties and Round 1 prize money.
When the players began heads-up play, Mercier had a 468,300 to 406,700 lead on Sam Stein. Mercier extended that lead over nearly an hour of heads-up play to the point he had Stein out-chipped nearly 2-1. All was well for Mercier until he made an ill-timed bluff with an open-ender on a paired board. Bad timing, as Stein held a straight. Mercier had three outs to a chop and missed. With that, Stein doubled through and the stacks were nearly even.
And from there, Stein suffered some of the worst indignities a poker player could endure without quitting the game forever. The river card on three hands was enough to make the most jaded of poker players puke.
All-in with an ace-nine versus ace-eight? Chopped pot.
Need to dodge three queens on the river to win the tournament? Queen.
Mercier needs a three or five with one card to come? Five.
With that, Stein was down to 13,000 chips. He managed to double up once, but after that, his sails had collapsed. He couldn't make 9♥3♥ beat Mercier's T♠6♣ and Mercier claimed the NAPT Mohegan Sun $25,000 Bounty Shootout championship.
Mercier admitted afterward that the rivered-three outer was nothing even he--a man who wins everything--could've seen coming.
"I really didn't think it was going to happen," he said with a small smile.
But with that understood, he said something we all know well: "I never give up."
And when it came time to take his winner's photo, he helped set everything up. He's been there so many times, it was old hat to him by now.
"This is not my first rodeo," he said.
We know, Jason. We know.
Congratulations to Jason Mercier for winning...again.
Here's how the final six made out.
NAPT Mohegan Sun $25,000 Bounty Shootout final table published results
Figures include money won for bounties and table vicitories
1. Jason Mercier ($450,000 + $25,000 future Bounty Shootout seat)
2. Sam Stein ($80,000)
3. Faraz Jaka ($80,000)
4. Matt Glantz ($70,000)
5. Shawn Buchanan ($80,000)
6. Luis "Bachy" Vasquez ($70,000)
Thanks for joining us at NAPT Mohegan Sun. Stay tuned for more NAPT announcements in the coming months. Until then, please join us for reports from the EPT, LAPT, and WSOP in the next few months.
All photography © Joe Giron