Jason Mercier’s return to poker culminated with a victory Thursday.
The onetime superstar-turned-family man won the World Series of Poker’s $1,500 buy-in No-limit 2-7 Lowball Draw at Horseshoe Las Vegas. The victory puts Mercier in elite company with his sixth career WSOP bracelet, which are awarded to tournament winners.
Mercier defeated Mike Watson heads-up for the $151,276 first prize. The outcome was a repeat of 2016 when Mercier beat Watson for the title in the $10,000 buy-in No-limit 2-7 Lowball Championship.
“It was definitely a bit of deja vu,” Mercier told WSOP.com. “Going into heads-up, I was a little worried that he was finally going to get me. But luckily I ran hot and was able to beat him again.”
Mercier was one of the dominant figures in poker for a decade, winning five WSOP bracelets from 2009 to 2016 to go with numerous other titles. But starting in 2018, Mercier’s volume decreased as he dedicated his time toward family.
He skipped the winter WSOP in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic and again in 2021 before returning to play a limited schedule last year.
But Mercier, who has three young children, has been seen at the poker tables more often in 2023. In February, the resident of Davie, Florida, won the PokerGO 10-Game Championship for $367,500.
Mercier and Watson traded the chip lead early in their heads-up match, which lasted about 90 minutes, before Mercier’s pressure eventually wore down his opponent.
With his latest win, Mercier has more than $20.7 million in live career tournament earnings, according to the Hendon Mob Poker Database.
“Everyone’s a lot better. The game is different. There’s just not as many people that are drawing dead at the game,” Mercier told WSOP.com.
“I’m not much of a studier. I just kind of play and get my experience by playing more hands. So it’s kind of like riding a bike, you know? I just hopped back on.”