The connection between the two beautiful games is not self-evident, but for Jason Mercier, both poker and basketball generate a lot of satisfaction. Back in the day, before his poker career took off, Jason coached a junior high basketball team. Apparently he was a fairly successful coach and had similar accomplishments at the helm of a junior varsity and then varsity team. The highlight of his short career as a basketball coach was winning the district championship.
Mercier takes great pleasure in talking about his experience as a basketball coach and claims that this activity helped him in his poker career as well. Being at the helm of a young team is quite a challenge, because you need to keep many egos in check, while delivering rock-solid results. Just as in poker, you encounter numerous obstacles and while victories keep you going, lengthy downswings can easily stop you in your tracks.
It was during his time as a basketball coach that Jason learned about the importance of focusing at the bigger picture instead of being overly concerned with petty setbacks. Going on tilt is the biggest threat for poker professionals but it is also a peril that looms over basketball coaches, who frequently feel helpless when teams perform below expectations. His coaching days are over but the Canadian remains a huge basketball fan and whenever he has the time to play, he goes straight to the basketball court.
Meanwhile, Mercier is fully committed to making the most of his poker career and 2014 got off to a good start. He participated in 12 major live tournaments and finished in the money six times, including the World Poker Tour event in Jacksonville. At the time of writing, he made the final 19 and has a very good chance at reaching the final table with a healthy stack.
2013 was a decent year overall, but Jason didn’t enjoy a smooth ride, with several months passing without a significant victory. Finishing outside paid places and suffering untimely eliminations from main events can affect players who are mentally weak, but Mercier didn’t succumb to tilt. He knew that things will eventually improve and his vast experience in this line of work provided him with the solace needed to overcome the obstacle.
Unlike aspiring poker professionals who are thrilled at the prospect of making the money, Jason knows that playing lowball is not the right thing to do. Players tend to become complacent when they settle for paid places instead of trying to win tournaments, which remains his top priority.