PAUL TALKS TO ISABELLE MERCIER|
Isabelle Mercier has been playing poker professionally for just over a year. Nevertheless, she has already set her mark in the poker world and won over $US 250,000 in poker tournaments. Paul Sandells braved the Isabelle stare for a quick chat recently.
As well as a second place she made a few years ago in Europe, while she was still working at the ACF, she has made a dozen tournament final tables this year and won a No Limit event at the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo.
Isabelle Mercier was born in 1975, in Canada, and she attended the University of Montreal where she obtained her degree in Law. She practiced commercial law for a year before she moved to Paris, where she attended Sorbonne University to pursue a Master degree in International Law. Meanwhile, she became the poker room manager of the Aviation Club de France, and never returned to the practice of law.
Hello Isabelle, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to me. Where are you right now?
I am in Barcelona, ready to play my first match in the World Heads Up Championship tomorrow at 3:30pm. I will be playing against Smokin Steve Vladar, and I am mathematically favourite to win this, as I have been losing my first match here for the last three years in a row! How "loser" is that? I mean, even if I was the worst player in the field, it would be very hard to lose my first match again for a fourth year in a row!
What events do you plan to play over the coming months?
I will be flying to Vegas right after the Championship here and intend to play in about 15-20 of the WSOP events. I will then fly back to Europe to play in the WPT in Paris.
So, we WILL see you at the WSOP this year.
Oh yes, wearing a brand new bracelet.
Many people saw you play at the British Poker Open which was shown live on UK television. How was the experience of playing on live TV?
I love playing on TV, and I loved playing LIVE, this was just great. However, as far as my game is concerned, the BPO was a disaster for me. In over four hours, I never had any AK or any pair (not once!!!). So, even though the cards are irrelevant, it does make things harder when you just get absolute trash over and over again. I still tried to battle as hard as I could, but eventually John Gale called me all-in when I was holding 8-4 offsuit. Im still mad at myself, and how clown that looked!
Viewers caught a glimpse of the famous "Isabelle stare down" do you find male players are intimidated by you or do they try to bully you?
I have my moments where I can be pretty intimidating! Unfortunately, I also have bad moments in my game where I am far from terrifying. For example, on Day 4 of the $25,000 WPT Championship at Bellagio last month, I found Phil Ivey sitting on my left for a couple of hours. The result is that he crippled my stack and came over the top of me every single time I threw a bet or a raise in the pot. Let me tell you no-one on this table was intimidated by me at that moment. But I have learned from the nightmare, and rest assure that Phil Ivey will never bully me again. I have a little surprise for him next time hes on my left! LOL
Who do you most fear at the poker table?
Phil Ivey is a scary one because he is so wise and talented. Negreanu is probably the number One player today and he can make you feel like he sees through you, so thats uncomfortable to play against. And Gus Hansen, obviously, my poker hero. He is just so much in advance of his time regarding poker, that is the scariest of all.
What would you most like to see happen in the world of poker in the future?
Tables filled with women players, and finally, a real equality between men and women in this world. Poker is a discipline where it can actually happen.
What is the toughest part about being a professional poker player?
Being confronted in situations where you still need to justify and explain that poker is a game of skills and has nothing to do with BlackJack or other casinos games, even though poker is very often provided within casinos walls.
...and the best part?
The absolute freedom it gives me. No alarm clock, no schedule, the world is wide open. I am so happy that sometimes I feel guilty for being able to live my life the way I choose to!
You also play online at Poker Stars, can you tell us your name there and your preferred game?
Yes I play on Poker Stars and I use internet poker to train for my tournaments. I try hard to play one tournament a day, so if its not live, its on the internet. My alias on Poker Stars is Mercedez.
Do you have a goal in poker which you want to accomplish above anything else?
I want to win the WSOP big one, this year, to be the first woman ever to win it. Im confident that this would have a major impact on the rise of women in the poker world. Much more women would come out and play. Incidentally, I could use the 5 million to travel first and live in hotel suites.
Finally, away from poker, what do you do to relax?
I read, I run, Im a big music fan. But overall, Im pretty boring outside of poker. I mean, all I really want to do is play, or talk about the game, or read about it. Not a lot of fun for a non-poker-player!
Thank you once again Isabelle. See you at the tables.