WSOP 2017: Team Mercier preparing for success on and off the tables

By the standards of some high-profile players at the World Series of Poker, Jason Mercier tends to keep himself to himself. He lets his results do the talking.

Last year, those results were practically yelling. Mercier won two bracelets (the fourth and fifth of his career) and narrowly missed out on a third--an achievement that would have earned him untold further riches in rumoured side bets. He was, of course, WSOP Player of the Year.

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Jason Mercier: Still alive on Day 3

It's been a more modest return from a full summer schedule this year--nine cashes and only one final table--but the seasoned tournament pro isn't going to start yelping in anguish either. It's simply the way of the WSOP. That's the way it goes.

"I feel like I've played well, just didn't run hot," Mercier says during a break in play in the Main Event. "You need to have that fine combination of running good and playing good to have a good summer. I feel like I've had a lot of opportunities, I've been deep in a lot of tournaments."

He adds: "I don't really have any regrets about this summer. I wish that I had bet a little less on myself for winning a bracelet, but I like to bet big and have big side bets and it worked out last year. It hasn't worked out this year. Not yet."

The "yet" is conditional. At time of writing, Mercier sits with about 80,000 in the Main Event with blinds at 1,200/2,400, and admitted that in two hours he would likely either have 200,000 or be out. But he also has plenty of reason to think his stay at the Rio may extend through to next week. Mercier's wife Natasha has a stack of more than 550,000, and Jason seems prepared to take on the role of supporter when the time comes.

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Natasha Mercier: Ahead in the husband and wife WSOP duel

"Any time that I'm deep in a tournament and she's not in anything, she's focused on being there for me and rooting for me and the same goes for me now," Mercier says. "I really want to see her go deep and win us both a lot of money. I'll do the railing and the coaching. I'll go get Starbucks."

The further twist--and another reason that both Merciers had better get used to the upending of their norms--is that Natasha is currently six months pregnant with their first child, a boy, who is due to be born on October 8. This time last year, Jason proposed to Natasha at the WSOP and they were planning a wedding. Twelve months later, they're planning for their new arrival.

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Last year's romantic interlude at the WSOP

"After the World Series we're going to probably take a few months off," Mercier says. "There's a tournament series in Florida that I'll play but besides that I probably won't play much poker for a few months, which is good. This year I've been playing pretty much non-stop the entire year, so it'll be good to take some time away from the tables and focus on family stuff."

Mercier is now 30 years old and is the latest from his generation of poker players to become a father. Many of the boom-era players have taken that significant next step in their lives, proving that being successful in poker doesn't necessarily mean the end of the more conventional satisfactions.

"I've talked to Antonio Esfandiari [whose wife is also pregnant]," Mercier says. "My good friend Brent Hanks is expecting his second kid as well. It's interesting. But I haven't really spoke to any poker player who had kids and their wife was a professional poker player too. So that's an interesting situation too."

Interesting, yes. But daunting? Not so much. At least not with a wife with as much energy during her pregnancy as Natasha. In addition to the deep run in this tournament, she's still apparently prepared to put the work in to propel Jason in his final bracelet quest. Surprisingly literally, as a recent video demonstrates:


WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.