Poker champ takes a business-like approach

By Nick Sortal

“I think a very big part of being an entrepreneur is diversification,” says 29-year-old Jason Mercier. His main source of income? Not the stock market. Not real estate. Not even the restaurant business. It’s poker.

Mercier, a Hollywood, Florida, native, has been ranked the world’s No. 1 poker player, winning $16.4 million in tournament poker. But the days of poker players being cowboy-like figures with $100 bills stuffed in their pockets are long gone. Mercier, and others like him, have to be good businessmen in order to have successful careers, says World Poker Tour commentator Mike Sexton, now 68, who has been a poker pro since 1985.

“People would ask me the difference between players of today and of the past, and, truthfully, it’s their education level,” Sexton says. “Players are much smarter, they eat better and exercise more. It’s just a different environment, more like the PGA Tour or the NFL or the NBA.”

Mercier, for example, must balance expenses, taxes, sponsorships and, as he says, diversification. “It’s important to never have all your eggs in one basket,” he says. “But I have a lot of money in play.”

His gambling basket includes both cash and tournament poker, sports betting and playing open-face Chinese poker on his phone. He also invests in real estate and has a food-delivery business.

Jason Mercier
Jason Mercier

Mercier says he has an accountant with deep knowledge of gambling tax law and keeps track of entry fees, for which he estimates he has paid more than $5 million.

Only 10 percent of the players earn money in most tournaments, so competitors often swap pieces of each other.

“The general public doesn’t have a good idea of how much action is being bought, sold and swapped,” Mercier says. “I’ll sell a lot of action on myself to reduce risk, which a lot of players do.”

Poker players make all kinds of proposition bets on things you might never think of. He says he had a “heavy action” on fellow pro Olivier Busquet, who won a mixed martial arts fight against JC Alvarado, another poker player, on April 21.

Mercier, who attended Sheridan Hills Christian School and then Florida Atlantic University, built up a bankroll playing poker online, then won $1.3 million in 2008 at age 21 in San Remo, Italy. He then hit for $325,000 in Barcelona, and was on his way.

“You need some kind of liquid amount, but there should be an amount you don’t need,” Mercier says. “Having it not sit in a bank is important. I’ve been working on it since San Remo.”

On April 20, Mercier entered a $25,500 buy-in tournament at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. The event allowed players to re-enter after they were knocked out; Mercier entered three times, only to finish 14th. The top 13 received prize money, and Mercier, who had his eye on $658,000 had he won, went home with nothing.

“Sometimes variance in poker will chew you up and spit you out, then step on your face as you are lying on your back helpless,” he says. “It can be a brutal game sometimes, but I can’t ever be too upset at a card game that has made me a millionaire and gives me all the freedom in the world.”

Nick Sortal’s gambling news appears daily at southfloridagambling.com.

You May Also Like

NAIOP South Florida Appoints Officers, Executive Board and Board of Directors for 2022

NAIOP South Florida, a Commercial Real Estate Development Association offering advocacy, education and business opportunities to its members, has announced the following officers for the 2022 Board of Directors: President:

Pride Week Festival Begins With Tribute to Pulse Nightclub Survivor

Miami Beach Pride’s week-long festivities will commence with a special tribute to the LGBTQ+ community honoring the victims of the tragic shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. A ceremonial “flip

Surfside luxury condo sees notable sales

Arte at Surfside is making waves. There’s, of course, the news that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are renting at the 16-resident luxury condominium. And there’s the December penthouse sale

Up in the Air: A Discussion

In a dynamic region where residents are typically on the move, everyone is wondering about the health of the airline industry and the safety of airports and airplanes. Everyone is

Other Posts

South Florida Yachting Legend Passes

Robert “Bob” Roscioli, an icon in the South Florida marine industry, has passed away. Many recognize the name Roscioli from the widely-successful and world-renowned Roscioli Yachting Center, a full service

Four key steps

[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text] What a crazy time we are all experiencing. Right now, getting back to basics is most important. It is not and

Pandemic adds to worries about hurricane season

An above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected, according to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. The outlook predicts a 60% chance of

The difference between leading and managing

[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text] Leadership and management are often misunderstood as one in the same. They are not. Certainly, a good leader should be able

Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.