Jason Mercier is in the middle of the worst summer of his career as a professional poker player, but deep in the 2015 World Series of Poker Event #32: $5,000 Six-Max No-Limit Hold'em. In the middle of the pack with just eight players left (at the time of this writing), he's got the chance to turn it all around.
"This has been the most disastrous three weeks in poker I have ever experienced," Mercier told PokerNews. "It has been the worst summer I've ever had so far."
Mercier has entered 10 events at the WSOP to date, with his lone cash coming from a 29th-place finish for $6,319 in Event #6: $1,000 Hyper Hold'em. Add that to big cash game losses, being on the wrong end of a big bracelet bet with Event #27: $10,000 Seven-Card Stud Championship winner Brian Hastings, and swings and misses in two $25,000 buy-in events at ARIA, and Mercier came into the $5,000 Six-Max stuck over $600,000 for the summer. First place in the event will pay $633,357.
"I'm down a ton," Mercier explained. "I've lost in cash. I lost a ton to Hastings. Plus, I've bricked almost every tournament I've played this summer. First place in this would just about get me even. That's about what I'm stuck."
Mercier has $13,881,363 in career live tournament earnings and two WSOP bracelets, but even a player of his caliber can start to get down on himself when he's in the midst of a downswing like this one.
"You start to question whether or not you're playing your best," he said. "I feel like I've been playing well, things just haven't really gone well in tournaments or cash. But if feels good to be deep and have a shot at a big score now. A different person in my position may not be risking as much, play cash as big, or side bet as much as I did with Brian, but that's a part of the challenge for me — to be able to play the highest stakes, make big bets that I think I have an edge in, and try to make money. The swings are definitely a part of it and sometimes that makes it more frustrating when things go wrong, but it makes it that much sweeter when things go right."
Even with a chance to get even if he manages to book the win in the $5,000 Six-Max, Mercier says he will not press things or change his game one bit.
"I'm trying to play the tournament the same as if I was up $600,000 on the summer instead of down," he said. "I'm still looking at the pay jumps, trying not to commit ICM suicide by getting involved in a crazy flip when I don't need to, and just trying to make the final table because that's where all the money is.
"Right now we're just two spots away and I'm kind of in the middle of the pack, so I'm just going to try and bob and weave my way there."
No matter how things end up, Mercier is hoping this score will give him a little push towards turning things around this summer, now halfway through the Series.
"The $50K (Poker Players' Championship) is still coming up, the $100K One Drop, and possibly the $500K at ARIA," he said. "There are a lot of bigger events coming up and just this cash alone is positive momentum going forward. If we finish this tournament for the day while registration is still open for the $10K Six-Max event, I'm gonna hop in that one, hopefully do well, and keep things rolling."