Jason Mercier might have been the hottest player at this year’s World Series of Poker (WSOP), but according to ESPN’s Dan Le Batard he might be more like a drug addict than a professional.
After being invited on ESPN’s The Dan Le Batard Show to talk about his success in the game, Mercier found himself having to defend his profession after the host likened poker players to junkies.
Prior to Mercier calling in, Le Batard lamented over a professional poker player’s state of mind and how they play multiple tournaments in just a few weeks.
“I wonder how happy these guys actually are. It’s just another form of being a junkie, where it’s not enough to merely be in a single poker tournament,” said Le Batard.
Mercier took the comments in stride and, like a typical poker player, gave a measured response to Le Batard’s suggestion that he might have a gambling problem.
“I play poker to make money, and I gamble to make money. It’s more of a job for me. The thing that I always look at is, are you able to stop? Are you able to take a couple of weeks off and not play poker,” retorted Mercier.
While the two men clearly had different views on the life of a poker pro, Mercier didn’t seem to be fazed by the interview and certainly held his own in the face of someone who appears to have a set view on the game.
Beyond the attack on his Mercier’s career, Le Batard’s comments appear to be representative of the views held by many members of the general population.
In fact, one of the main arguments American anti-online poker advocates such as Sheldon Adelson use is that the game is potentially addictive.
Likening it to crack cocaine, Adelson has suggested that the only way to protect the children of America is to enforce a blanket ban on the online game.
Of course, those of us in the industry have heard these sorts of criticisms ever since the industry boomed at the turn of the millennium.
However, with ESPN hosts still somewhat skeptical over the status of the game, it’s clear more work needs to be done to convince people that poker is unlike the casino games it’s often associated with.
As for the man himself, Mercier tweeted soon after the event that he didn’t appreciate being called a junkie, but will “keep on printing” paper regardless.