Once Upon A Time: When I Decided To Become a Pro Player
Last time Isabelle Mercier recalled the time when she player poker in a movie. Now, we go way back in time to see how she started her whole career and decided to become a professional poker player.
A lot of people think my career started when I won the WPT Ladies Night in 2004 in Los Angeles.
This victory is obviously an important milestone in my career and an incredible boost, but it’s not exactly the starting point, the spark that started the holy fire in me.
It was indeed two years earlier in Amsterdam at the annual Master Classic of Poker tournament that it all started and that I knew I wanted to be a pro player.
How it all started
We are in 2002. At the time I was working as a director at the Aviation Club de France (ACF), recently transformed into Club Barrière Paris 104. I find myself at the Master Classics of Poker in Amsterdam, for my second “real tournament ”.
There are big names in poker of the time, David “The Devilfish” Ulliott, Surinder Sunar, Marcel “The Flying Dutchman” Lüske, and Keith “The Camel” Hawkins.
In this pool of sharks, I am obviously the nice blonde fish who holds his cards, but who is not going to play it agro. And indeed, I am in neat mode and what must happen in such a case has happened: I literally get walked on.
I end up with two poor chips before the first break. I call Bruno Fitoussi, who gave me his ticket for this €800 tournament. I explain the situation to him and ask him naively if he wants to pay me a rebuy in this tournament.
He bursts into laughter on the phone, out of the question. Looking back, not giving me a rebuy was obviously the best decision. What would I have done with a brand new stack? Certainly the same; I would have been walked over a second time.
The game-changer advice
Before returning to the table, I meet my friend Paul Magriel “X-22”, also present in the tournament. He is a genius mathematician, former backgammon world champion.
He tells me bluntly that my game is too fearful and that I have to take more risks. It was like an electric shock.
I think about what he just told me for a quarter of a second and realize that yes, it’s absurd to play so tight, not to risk more, what could happen to me worse than be eliminated from the tournament?
Taking the risks to win
Nothing. I am sitting at the poker table, everything is fine.
Back to my seat, I radically change gear and put myself in agro mode. I’m not scared anymore.
All these players at the table, whom I know well because I am the one who takes care of them when they come to the ACF and who gently laugh at me, at least at the way I play, do not impress me in the end.
After a few hits, it works! I raise my stack and, ironically, I even pay myself the luxury of ejecting Paul Magriel out of the tournament with a nice pair of deuces. He could at least see that I had listened to him!
The first final table of my career
Twelve hours later, I’m in the final table in Amsterdam. I have more adrenaline than blood in my veins. I am, for the first time in my life, in a… zone! It’s an incredible feeling to experience.
I’m going to finish second in this tournament for 53,697 euros, my second row on Hendon Mob which comes to pulverize my 33rd place for 429 dollars from a tournament I had played a year earlier in Vienna.
I already felt like I learned more in one day than in my entire poker life. I might not have won the tournament that day, but I got one thing away; from that night on, I didn’t want to do anything other than play poker.
Sorry ACF, we’re going to have to have a discussion … After this tournament, my life has never been the same.
I started playing online from morning to night and slowly let go of my job, only to quit everything, sell everything I had, and fly away with my suitcase to travel the world with my passion: playing poker!
Meet me at the tables on CoinPoker to practice your skills and enjoy the action. Open yourself a CoinPoker account today.
Isabelle “No Mercy” Mercier
WPT Winner & OFC “Progressive” World Champion