In the early hours of Monday, Dec. 7, 2015, TonyBet Poker Ambassador Isabelle Mercier became the first-ever Open-Face Chinese Poker Progressive Pineapple world champion.
To win the event and to bring home the €10,189 first prize, Mercier outlasted a field of 108 entrants who ponied up the €350 buy-in in the event.
"I left Monaco on Sunday morning, and there was no direct flight for Prague," Mercier told PokerNews. "So I went to Nice, then Paris. Once in France, I had a three-hour layover before flying to Prague. I arrived in Prague at 6 p.m., I checked in at the hotel at 7:30 p.m., and I started the tournament at 8 p.m. Then, I played for 14 hours until 10 a.m.
"I woke up in Monaco at 7 a.m. and had a 28-hour day. I slept for two hours, and only had five hours between winning the event and playing the next one, the TonyBet Poker OFC €10,000 High Roller. I guess this unusual timing is what made this one of the hardest tournaments I played in my entire life."
Talking about here experience at the second OFC World Cup, Mercier highlighted the great differences that exist between playing OFC poker online and live.
"I am used to playing OFC on TonyBet Poker online all the time," Mercier said. "There, you don't really need to count: you just trust the software. You just count the odds and the software goes 'cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching' before moving onto the next hand.
"Playing live, however, is another story. Here it is much different as you need to calculate the number of points times the number of chips per point versus each player — and do it for 14 hours. I thought time would go really fast, because when I play online I don't see time. When I start playing, I asked, 'What, I have been playing for four hours already?' Time just goes by so fast online. But live you can really feel the 14 hours and it doesn't go fast at all because you have to think all the time and count all the time."
Regardless of how hard the tournament was getting to on time and the difficulties in playing live versus online, it seems Mercier is thankful she made the decision to head out to Prague.
"It was great," she shared. "I had a really good time. I barely slept two hours, but now I have adrenaline and want to play again. It's a good feeling. This was my first open-face Chinese live poker tournament in, so I was really looking forward to it."
Mercier maintains she has a new love of OFC and doesn't enjoy, nor play, other forms of poker anymore.
"I don't really play poker anymore," she said. "Hold'em is a little boring after 15 years. I feel the starting decisions, the foundation of your hands, in OFC are really important, and yesterday I saw a lot of mistakes being made. I really feel like I have an edge on most of the players not understanding the progressive format."
Mercier battled it out with Germany's Frank Gohletr for several hours heads-up in the wee hours of the morning and shared that the experience was both enjoyable and frustrating.
"Gohletr was super nice, but was un-killable," elaborated Mercier. "He was playing very safe and didn't want to let go. I was asking myself, 'Am I really going to get him at some point?' However, the good thing about him is that he didn't take any risks. So I took some risks in order to win."
As you can imagine, Mercier was very pleased about winning the tournament.
"I am very happy to win the tournament as I became a TonyBet Poker Ambassador this summer," she said. "I have been writing one OFC strategy piece per week for PokerNews since then and I have been focusing on the pineapple variant as there is so much to say. In the future, however, I will be getting to progressive and deuce-seven variants as well."
It doesn't seem like there is a better fit for either TonyBet Poker or Mercier to represent both the site and OFC in general. Mercier said with a smile, "I am really happy to be an Ambassador. I have my tournament online every Wednesday. It's affordable as its a €5 buy-in event and has a great structure taking about two hours to finish."
To join TonyBet Poker and play against Mercier for free, you can open an account at Tonybet Poker through this link, and use the code NOMERCY to make your first deposit.