Isabelle Mercier’s first experiences in a casino were at the Casino de Montreal where she worked as a blackjack dealer whilst studying law at the city’s University. After graduating, she worked for under a year in commercial law before deciding to cross the Atlantic. In Paris, she combined her studies with casino life again, studying for a master’s degree at Sorbonne University and dealing cards for poker players.
The Paris casino where she worked was the renowned Aviation Club de France. After obtaining her Master’s degree in 1999, she went to work there full time. Her boss, French poker player Bruno Fitoussi, promoted her to poker room manager and during this time Mercier was nominated for ‘casino staff person of the year’ in the European Poker Awards.
After four years at the club, Isabelle was itching to be the one who had cards dealt to her rather than the other way around. However, it was a not time wasted as being a poker dealer had proved to be a great apprenticeship. With a second place tournament finish in 2002 already under her belt, she sold the majority of possessions, began to live out of a suitcase and hit the professional poker world in 2004.
Her first major success came in September 2004 when she won a televised World Poker Tour Invitational Ladies event and describing her aggressive playing style commentator Dave Sexton dubbed her ‘No Mercy’ Mercier. Over the next year, her tour of poker events brought her back to France via Holland and included many final table finishes in minor tournaments. Then two No Limit Hold’em Events in Monte Carlo helped further her reputation when she finished tenth in the EPT main event and then won a smaller buy-in event a few days later.
Since then, she has achieved several more final table finishes and has finished in the money in WPT and EPT main events. Her highest cash finish so far was at the EPT Charity Charity Event in April 2009 where she walked away with first place and $341,862.
Isabelle doesn’t have an apartment anywhere and enjoys the freedom of living without a mortgage and all the trappings that come with having a permanent base. Instead she stays in hotel rooms around the world and she has succeeded in being able to continue with this lifestyle despite starting out with a bankroll of only $10,000.
She has paid for her nomadic existence through her cash prizes in tournaments, preferring these to cash games, as the play is more aggressive and that tournaments have a beginning and an end. She prepares for on the morning of events with a relaxing candlelit bath before listening to loud music to get her adrenaline going.
Mercier believes she has a talent for reading players and that, in general, women have a natural empathy which means they can ‘have a greater ability to see through’ their poker opponents. She has been known to stare intently at her opposition, mainly to aid her read but it can also have an intimidating side effect.
Isabelle has been involved in some poker side projects as well, including commentating at the EPT, an instructional DVD and an autobiography called ‘Profession : bluffeuse.’ After her 2004 WPT victory, she became a professional member of PokerStars.com where she played under her nickname ‘No Mercy’ this relationship ceased in 2009 and she soon joined gambling giant BetClic as a consultant for their online poker site.
European Poker Tour 2005
In March 2005, Isabelle Mercier was in Monte Carlo playing in a Texas Hold’em event during the European Poker Tour’s first season. She was among the remaining thirty players and battling to stay in the tournament for the following day’s finale. Mercier had pocket Q♥ Q♣ and had raised the betting by 15,000 chips.
Next to play was Marcel Luske, who had been talking to the rest of the table during Mercier’s raise, and looking at his cards announced ‘all in.’ A call wouldn’t have knocked Mercier out of the tournament but would have seriously dented her chip stack. But she decided it was well worth the gamble and smiling at Luske, pushed her chips into the pot. Luske turned over his cards, showing a A♥ Q♠ and both players watched the flop intently. 9♦ 8♠ 6♠ came out and Luske was in trouble until the A♠ appeared on the turn.
Not only had he paired his aces but he was on a flush draw now as well. Mercier shook her head knowing that with Luske holding a queen, only one card in the deck could win her the pot now, the very same card that turned up on the river, the Q♦. Mercier gasped as Luske jumped to his feet and slapped the table. Mercier bit her lower lip knowing she had got lucky but then again she had still been 70% likely to win the hand pre-flop. The chips Mercier won helped her to a tenth place finish and a $31,811 payout.
Last updated May 2013