"Coming in October... #12weeks" read the tweet that Natasha Mercier sent out on March 23. If the text didn't tell you enough, the accompanying photo did. Both Natasha and Jason Mercier were sitting on the couch reading books on being pregnant and becoming a father. The recently married couple expects their first early in October.
A week later, Jason won the $25,500 High Roller at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, netting him $794,600. We caught up with him in Monaco, where he's playing the PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino®.
"You've figured out my strategy," Jason said as we asked him if he was planning on getting in as much poker as possible before the baby is born. "I'm basically planning on playing as much as I can the next three months."
The PokerStars Team Pro is gearing up for a full summer of grinding in Las Vegas, and is even toying with the idea of adding an extra week after the Series ends to play cash games. When that's done, though, it's possible he's not playing anything at all until the baby comes.
"I'm considering going to Barcelona or maybe a tournament in Hollywood, Florida, but besides that, I'll probably take a couple of months off for the last part of her pregnancy."
While Mercier posed for the big reveal photo with the book "Dude, You're Gonna Be a Dad!", he, in fact, hasn't read much about what to expect.
"I haven't read any books," he said with a laugh. "That book that I had open, I think I only read the first chapter."
Jason anticipates diving into the books when the big trip, including Vegas, ends.
"I think I'm going to do a lot more studying up and try to be ready for it when Vegas is done," he said.
Coming in October...#12weeks https://t.co/45pjN0slKK— Natasha Mercier (@natashabarbour)
While he might not be well-versed with knowledge from books, he does think he's already gotten a decent amount of real-life practice.
"I have six nieces and nephews and I've been around them for the last four or five years since they've been growing up," he said. "So, I feel I have a decent idea of what to expect."
Mercier isn't sure yet what his poker life is going to be once the baby is there.
"It's going to have to depend on how I feel, how Tasha feels and how we're able to balance being parents and also being poker players," he said.
They plan on making a few trips to see how things go. If taking the baby with them works out, he might play some more. If Natasha and the baby have to stay home, Jason will too.
Regardless of how things go with bringing the baby along, Jason expects to trim down on the amounts of traveling.
"I'm definitely looking forward to being a father and anticipate slowing down a bit," he said. "You can't really be on the road seven or eight months out of the year for your entire life. I mean, you can, but that's not what I'm hoping for."
Jason made no secret out of the fact that he was rooting for it to be a boy.
"Big flip coming..." he tweeted first. Following that came, "BOOM! Ship it #IdontLoseFlips" and then a reveal that the two were indeed expecting a boy.
"It's not that I don't want a girl, it's more just having the reassurance that I'm going to have at least one boy," he said. "If the first one's a girl, then you're really sweating the second one. Now if the second one is a girl again, you got to ask yourself the question, 'How many kids are we gonna have?'
"I wanted to have a son and now that we know that the first one is going to be a boy, I'll be happy if I'll have three girls next."
The logical questions is, are the Merciers going to introduce their son to poker, or are they going to keep him shielded from the game a bit.
"I can't imagine really keeping him away from that, simply because gambling and poker is so much of what I do," Mercier said. "I want him to learn what I do and I also expect him to be able to be good at it too. I would imagine I'll be training him from a young age."
Last summer, Mercier dominated the poker news with his strong string of results, hyped up by the bracelet bets he had made before hand. With what might be the last summer of poker without any distractions, it's not out of the realm of possibilities that he again bets heavily on himself to take home some WSOP gold, adding to his already strong collection of five.
It's not set in stone yet, though.
"Like every year, I'm going to see where I'm at during SCOOP and after SCOOP," he said. "A lot of it depends on Monte Carlo as well. I'm way more likely to make bracelet bets when I have a good result here. The win at SHRPO is definitely pushing me to make bracelet bets."
There's one major thing holding Mercier back from firing big on himself again.
"I've also been playing mixed cash the last 12 months in Bobby's Room, and if I make bracelet bets I can't really play those games until the tournaments are over," he said. "It's a lot to consider and I'll probably make a decision a week before the World Series starts."
When he knows, we'll know. First, a week and a half of poker awaits in the Principality of Monaco. Mercier is currently playing the €100,000 Super High Roller, so follow the action on PokerNews this week to see if he adds another trophy to his collection.