Jason Mercier showed skill, determination and maybe a little luck – according to British player Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott – to take down event No.35, the $5,000 six-handed pot-limit Omaha tournament, at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) of 2011 in Las Vegas last night.
Mercier collected the $619,575 first prize and a second pot-limit Omaha gold bracelet, following his 2009 $1,500 buy-in success, by defeating fellow Florida rival Hans Winzeler in heads-up play – as well as 505 other players during the event – in a spectacular conclusion to what must be the most impressive field ever seen at the WSOP.
The WSOP organisers were persuaded to include this event on this year’s calendar – and they will have been thrilled to see an astounding assortment of seasoned online poker specialists, pros and amateurs gathered together in the Amazon Room of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino to create a prize pool of $2,382,900 for what turned out to three days of intense hands and all-action play.
However, it can be safely assumed that Ulliott won’t be seeking out Team PokerStars Pro Mercier to congratulate him on his victory following the Englishman’s critical appraisal of the Hollywood star’s skills.
Day three, with 15 players remaining, couldn’t have started in a more spectacular fashion as the field was cut down to just eight survivors within the first two hours as Mercier – considered the third best player in the world right now by ESPN – began to take control of the event.
His most impressive early success came with a double elimination that propelled him into the leading chip stacks – and sent Hull’s Ulliott and Canadian Peter Jetten to the rail.
Ulliott, on the button, raised to 25,000, while small blind Jetten re-raised to 110,000. Mercier, in the big blind, called and Ulliott followed suit.
Jetten shoved all-in when the flop revealed 2d-Jd-8s, with Mercier immediately doing the same and Ulliott also calling off his stack.
Mercier showed Qd-9d-10c-6c, Toronto’s Jetten held Ah-Ac-9s-5c, and Ulliott revealed Jc-Jh-7d-7h. The Englishman was in front with his trip jacks, but Mercier had flush and straight and draws to leave Jetten’s aces looking a poor hope.
The turn provided the Qc to hand Mercier the straight to leave Ulliott hoping to pair the board – only for the 4c to come on the river to send a disappointed Jetten ($23,519) and a furious Ulliott ($23,519) to the rail in 14th and 13th respectively.
This is the moment Mercier felt the sharp end of the Devilfish’s tongue as he called Mercier “the luckiest f*cking mother f*cker alive!”
While Ulliott’s frustration is certainly understandable, it wasn’t a particularly graceful way to exit the tournament.
When heads-up play was reached, it looked like the railbirds gathered could be in for a long evening, only for Mercier to beat Miami’s Winzeler ($383,075) fairly swiftly to claim his second WSOP bracelet.
A significant pot developed before the final hand was played out as Winzeler – on the button – put in a 160,000 pre-flop raise and Mercier called.
Both players checked the 10s-2h-Js flop, before Mercier led out for 165,000 on the 4s turn. Winzeler called and Mercier then bet 390,000 on the 2c river – resulting in the former folding.
That hand reduced Winzeler’s chip stack significantly and, now down to below 2.8 million, he was out in second place soon after.
The final hand saw Mercier, on the button, raise to 160,000, only for Winzeler to re-raise to a massive 480,000. Mercier, of course, called and then saw a 9d-4s-3d flop spread out by the dealer.
Mercier opened with 960,000, while Winzeler went all-in for Mercier to quickly call to show Qc-6c-5d-3s.
But Winzeler’s Ac-Kd-Kc-Js had him ahead with an over pair, and he retained his lead after the 10c came on the turn. Needing any two, three, five, six or seven, the crowd went wild when the river came the 7h for Mercier’s supporters to vault the rail to begin the celebrations.
Top 10 placings and payouts at the WSOP 2011 $5,000 Six-Handed Pot-Limit Omaha event:
1. Jason Mercier (USA) – $619,575
2. Hans Winzeler (USA) – $383,075
3. Steven Merrifield (USA) – $239,100
4. David Chiu (USA) – $156,628
5. Joseph Ressler (USA) – $105,967
6. Michael McDonald (Canada) – $73,965
7. Gregory Brooks (USA) – $53,210
8. David Callaghan (Ireland) – $53,210
9. Robert Fellner (USA) – $39,413
10. Jared Bleznick (USA) – $39,413