Jason Mercier came within one spot of winning back-to-back $10,000 championship events, hundreds of thousands of dollars in bracelet bets, and a legitimate shot at $1.8 million more, at the 2016 World Series of Poker Wednesday.
Two days after winning the $10,000 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship, Mercier got all the way to heads-up play in the $10,000 Razz Championship before ultimately finishing runner-up to Ray Dehkharghani.
In denying Mercier his fifth career WSOP bracelet, Dehkharghani won hist first and the $273,338 first-place prize it came with.
When Mercier took down the Lowball title earlier this week, he admitted the win was worth much more than the $273,335 first-place prize it came with, because of hundreds of thousands in bracelet bets he had on the side. He also claimed to have a number of bets on two bracelets, at 18- or 19-1, and a $10,000 bet with Vanessa Selbst at 180-1 to win three, where he stands to win $1.8 million.
Although he took home $168,936 for the runner-up finish Wednesday, Mercier was obviously upset he wasn't able to take advantage of the opportunity to clear some of those bets and inch even closer to a huge payday.
"That's what I'm most disappointed about right now," Mercier said. "I had a bunch of bets on winning two bracelets, and the huge one on winning three. It's like almost impossible to win three when you get a second-[place finish], because it means you're going to have to get heads up four times. That's tough to do. I'm just a little disappointed for the equity of my bet. Obviously I won more money, and you can't be too disappointed anytime you get heads up for a bracelet, but I'm pretty disappointed.
"I don't feel like there was too much I could have done heads up. He played very well and it just wasn't meant to be."
Selbst's efforts to get out of the big bet after Mercier won the Lowball bracelet, and took the chip lead in the Razz, included a six-figure buyout offer, a claim she was intoxicated when she made the bet, and questions about Mercier's level of compassion when he refused to accept her original buyout offer of up to $1,000.
After his runner-up finish, Mercier confirmed Selbst was able to reduce her exposure substantially, prior to play today, and he did not want to address the attack on his character.
"I don't really want to comment publicly on what happened between me and Vanessa," he said. "We have sort of different views on prop betting, I guess, and what exactly happens between friends, but I don't really want to get into it too much more.
"It's pretty much squashed, she pretty much bought out, hedged it off, sold the bet, so if I end up winning three, I guess I'll get paid from someone else."
With side action that appears to dwarf the payouts in these events, it's clear Mercier has a lot more at stake than the rest of the field, but he appears to handle that added pressure like a seasoned pro.
"It is a little daunting when the difference between first and second is like a hundred thousand, but for me, it's like five or six hundred thousand, or whatever it is," he said. "But I think it helps me be even more focused."
And while some might find all the recent activity on Twitter surrounding his big bets distracting, Mercier says it's anything but.
"It's hard to keep up with all the mentions on Twitter," he said. "But besides that it's not too big of a deal. It doesn't really even cross my mind when I'm playing."
Only one-third way through the 2016 WSOP schedule, Mercier should have plenty of opportunity to book another win, and he said he's looking forward to it.
"There are a ton of huge buy-in, small-field events left on the schedule that are good chances to win," he said. "If I can get myself to another couple of final tables, who knows what will happen?"
To that end, he immediately late-registered in the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E Championship hungry for the grind.