Jason Mercier is a five-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner with more than $20 million in recorded tournament earnings. The 36-year-old father of three was a fixture on the live scene for a decade before stepping away from the life of a full-time traveling grinder to focus on starting his family. He has only recorded six tournament cashes in the last 3.5 years, with his most recent title run coming in August of 2019. Mercier finally got back in the winner’s circle on Saturday, Feb. 11 by emerging victorious in the 2023 PGT Mixed Games $25,000 buy-in 10-game championship event.
Mercier defeated a field of 57 entries that turned out to the PokerGO Studio inside ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas to earn his 27th career tournament title and the top prize of $367,5000. This was the only event of the series that Mercier participated in.
“This tournament was so much fun to play,” Mercier told PokerGO Tour reporters. “It was my first time in the PokerGO Studio. I felt good playing. I played cash for two days before coming here, so I felt like my mixed games were oiled up and ready to go. I played well. I was never all in except for one time in no-limit deuce, where I had the guy dead. That was the only time I was all in and at risk during the whole tournament, so I feel like I played really well, ran well, and am super happy to get the W and a nice payday.”
Mercier was also awarded 257 PGT Points for the win, enough to catapult him inside the top 5 in the points race for the series.
This event featured mix of the H.O.R.S.E. games, no-limit hold’em, pot-limit Omaha, no-limit deuce-to-seven single draw, badugi, and deuce-to-seven triple draw. It played out over the course of two days. The field of 57 entries was narrowed to 18 contenders by the end of day 1, with three-time bracelet winner Dan Zack leading the remaining players when cards got in the air for day 2. Mercier was third in chips at that point, but moved up to second position by the time the final seven players combined onto a single table.
Six-time bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu busted short stack Andrew Kelsall in seventh place ($71,250), only to soon find himself facing an all-in bet for his tournament life in a hand of no-limit hold’em. Negreanu called the shove by Jeremy Ausmus, only to muck when Ausmus revealed queens full of fours. Negreanu earned $85,500 as the sixth-place finisher.
Ausmus, a five-time bracelet winner, had a tough run during five-handed play. He lost a couple of big hands in pot-limit Omaha before finding himself involved in a crucial stud eight-or-better pot. He wound up all-in on sixth street with sixes up facing the eight low and pair of eights of two-time bracelet winner David ‘ODB’ Baker. Baker drew an ace on seventh street to improve to aces up for the high side, scooping the pot and eliminating Ausmus in fifth place $114,000.
Maxx Coleman’s run in this event came to an end in a hand of Badugi. He got all-in after the second draw with 42A facing the 32A of Baker. Neither player improved on the end and Baker’s superior three-card badugi earned him the pot. Coleman, who has yet to play out a paused heads-up match for the event no. 4 title against Ben Lamb, earned $142,500 as the fourth-place finisher. The two-time bracelet has locked up $138,000 for making the final two in that event and could win up to $186,300 if he were able to capture the title.
Baker lost a big chunk of his chips in a no-limit hold’em pot to Mercier. He then got all-in in a hand of razz, committing his last chips on sixth street with a (5-3)A-2-5-9 board. He was up against the (A-8)9-3-2-4 of Zack. Baker caught a 10 on the end to finish with a 9-5-3-2-A low, while Zack caught a 7 to improve to 7-4-3-2-A. Baker earned $199,500 for his second big score of the series. He finished as the runner-up of the kickoff event, bringing his total earnings for the series to nearly $350,000.
Heads-up play began with Zack holding a slight lead over Mercier. The two came to a deal that redistribute the remaining prize money, with second to earn $345,000 while the winner would take home $367,500. The two soon got it all-in blind in a hand of pot-limit Omaha and Mercier made a pair of aces to win the pot for essentially all of the chips in play. Zack doubled up his short stack twice, but ran into a wheel for Mercier on the next all-in and was knocked out in second place.
Zack cashed five times across the eight-event series, with this being his highest finish and largest payday. He totaled $524,700 in earnings during the festival, accruing 352 PGT points along the way, the most of any player. While the standings in that points race are not yet final, with Coleman and Lamb’s heads-up showdown yet to be completed, Zack’s point lead is insurmountable. As a result, he has locked up the title of PGT Mixed Games series champion and the $25,000 championship bonus.
Here is a look at the payouts and rankings points awarded at the final table:
|David “ODB” Baker
Photo credits: PokerGO / Antonio Abrego.