EPT Barcelona: Getting up to speed

September 04, 2009

Clean shaven, large sunglasses and wearing a pink short-brimmed trilby made famous by Vicky Coren, is Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier. It’s been a year and five months since he won the EPT San Remo and more than $1.3million, 11 months since he won the High Roller event in London last season for nearly another million, and three months since he took down his first World Series bracelet in Las Vegas; so it’s about time he won something. It could be here in Barcelona where the yawning and ache filled stretches performed a few feet from the table, slow motion break dancing to crack the bones, show him to be at absolute peak condition.

The trilby, the poker player’s war bonnet, is slightly askew and the glasses hide tired eyes. In his own words he’d tried to get to sleep at 2am, but his chatty roommate, up for a thoughtful insomniatic late night conversation (you know the ones) kept that plan on hold till four. Now he’s doing his best to ease into the day.

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Jason Mercier

To his left sits Marcin Horecki, looking a little more alert, even more so when the seat six player leans back knocking over what sounds like an ice bucket. It jolts everyone back into the real world as a players waits for a reply to his re-raise. He gets it eventually just as the blinds go up.

But there’s nothing like a hand to shakes loose the rust and get the blood flowing back to that part of the brain that makes the decisions regarding bet size. It’s the same department that pushes aside fear.

The as yet unidentified seat one player, playing under the cover of headphones and ornate gold rimmed sunglasses, made it 400 pre-flop from the cut off. Mercier was in the small blind and raised to 1,225. Then Horecki in the big blind made it 3,500, throwing in a yellow chip to cover it and flashing three fingers then five to Headphones who was at that point oblivious to sound. This wasn’t acceptable to Headphones who mucked his hand. So did Mercier and Horecki took the lot, flashing A♦.

Things got a lot worse for Danny Bargas, the real name for Headphones in seat one. I’d got his name as he walked away, busted. He showed no irritation at this, despite the bad timing, although he should have as I’d just watched him play three hands and lose them all. But he’d lived fast and this time it hadn’t paid off. On a board of 9♦7♣2♠4♠ he’d found himself all-in holding A♠J♠ as his opponent showed 10♦10♠. The tens were good and Bargas was gone.

But that’s good for a wake-up call on a table living life a few miles per hour behind the others. Seven levels to go after this one.

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