Just before midnight Las Vegas time, Jason Mercier was in the bathroom. No story should have to start like that, but this one does. It’s important.
To understand the scene, imagine a long convention center hallway with scuffed tile floors. About a hundred yards short of the back exit is a heavy door on the left. Behind that door is a medium-sized restroom that’s meant to serve the thousands of people who play in the World Series of Poker every day. By the evening hours, the restroom can be awash with used paper towels, discarded beer cups, and the remaining detritus of the poker world after a long day at the tables. It’s in this place that Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier found himself in the waning hours of the $5,000 six-handed PLO event. He was just a few players away from winning his second WSOP bracelet, and he had to go to the john.
At any given time in said bathroom, a traveler in necessity of such a place will be forced to listen to any variety of music from the past 30-40 years. Some days one can do his business to Aerosmith’s “Little Kin.” Some days, it’s a quick in-out-nobody-gets-hurt to the crooning of Tom Jones.
Last night, Mercier went to wash his hands and realized he was listening to The Police. The song coming through the speakers was older than Mercier. All around him, Sting sang over and over again, “I can’t stand losing.”
I can’t stand losing.
I can’t stand losing.
It doesn’t matter that the song lyric ends in the word “you,” or that the song itself was ostensibly about a guy about to off himself over a lost love (–1–). For Mercier, it seemed like a nod toward destiny. He is a man who simply can’t stand to lose. He was going to win his second WSOP title. Right after he washed up.
More than 500 people put up the $5,000 to enter the six-max event. After midnight last night with a few minutes to go before the scheduled hard-out that would’ve forced him to go to bed heads-up, Mercier put away his final opponent and banked $619,575.
By the time Jason Mercier was born, the Police’s “I Can’t Stand Losing You” was already moving into the classic rock rotation. Mercier’s generation probably knows the song better as a backdrop to a video game. For the 24-year-old from Florida, The Police tune was walk-in music for his moment to, in Mercier-speak, “mash.”
Mercier makes writing about him an exercise in triteness-avoidance. Only so many times can poker media hacks like us type, “Mercier wins everything.” He’s done it so many times, he makes his winner-wraps look recycled. In some places, he’s not even old enough to rent a car. He looks like he could still be slouching his way toward Econ 101 at some state university. Instead, in the three years he’s been street-legal, Mercier has amassed a head-shaking 53 live cashes, 12 first place finishes, and $6.16 million in live winnings.
And now he has two WSOP bracelets.
The late 70s version of The Police made liberal use of repetition (who among us hasn’t played the “Roxanne” drinking game?). The chorus of “I Can’t Stand Losing You” was no exception. By the time Mercier was born, The Police had, for the most part, already broken up. Nevertheless, the kid from Florida knows about the power of repetition.
Just look at this wrists.
Photo courtesy WSOP.com