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In Conversation With Dexter Mercado, Tournament Director of Upcoming IPC Megastacks

In Conversation With Dexter Mercado, Tournament Director of Upcoming IPC Megastacks
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  • Attreyee Khasnabis May 13, 2022
  • 4 Minutes Read

India’s longest-running live tournament series, the India Poker Championship, will be returning after a 28-month-long hiatus next week! This time, the much-awaited series dons a new avatar – IPC Megastacks! The six-day-long series runs from May 17 to 23, with a mind-blowing ₹3.50 Crores in guaranteed prize money on the line!

For the second time in the series’ history, the IPC will take place at an international destination, i.e., at Casino Vegas by Big Daddy at Hotel Mechi Crown, located in the picturesque hills of Jhapa, Nepal – a short 30 minutes car ride from Bagdogra airport.

With the addition of some very attractive off-the-felts activities like a pool party (May 19), helicopter rides, and much more, the IPC Megastacks is geared up to be the standout series of the year.

But it takes a village to successfully host a tournament series. And nobody understands this better than a Tournament Director. Philippines-based Dexter Mercado has already donned the role of Tournament Director at the last three IPC editions and will be taking on the tall task of running the show at the upcoming IPC Megastacks.

Mercado is a veteran in his field. He entered the poker world nearly 15 years ago when he began training as a dealer and started working at the airport casino in the Philippines. From there, he transferred to the Angeles Casino Filipino in Pampanga. By the time he had been dealing Texas Hold’em for about 10 months, he was offered a promotion to become a floor person by his then General Manager. He rejected the offer and soon was transferred to the Subic Poker Club.

After being promoted as Tournament Director and Operations Head at the Subic Poker Club, he met Lloyd Fontillas. The APT Tournament Director asked Mercado to join his team, and there has been no looking back for him since. Mercado has made a distinct name for himself and has worked with several known names, including Matt Savage and David Lamb.

Mercado was a part of the 2016 IPC and had worked as a TD for the series. After the series was discontinued and made its comeback in 2019, Mercado returned to his role as the TD. His last appearance as TD for the IPC was in January 2020, following which all live series, domestically and internationally, were canceled due to the global pandemic.

Mercado has been swarmed with work with live poker gradually getting back on track since late last year. He is presently running the operations at the WildAces poker room and the D’heights Poker Casino in the Philippines.

And Mercado will be returning once more to run the IPC Megastacks as the Tournament Director. PokerGuru caught up with the man of the hour to learn more about his expectations from the IPC Megastacks, returning to an IPC series after the COVID-19 pandemic, and much more. Here are the excerpts.


You are no stranger to running live tournaments in India and have been the TD for the last three IPC stops, including the IPC January 2020 edition just before the COVID-19 lockdown. How do you feel about returning to India/Nepal for the IPC Megastacks next week?

I’m really excited that I’m finally I’m able to go back to IPC after two years. I miss working with the IPC team and looking forward to a successful event.

Dextor Mercado
Dexter Mercado


Since India’s longest-running live poker series is coming back with a new name, we wanted to know what would be different at the IPC Megastacks from the previous IPC editions?

As a series, the IPC Megastacks is different compared to the last IPC edition. We have made it a more deep-structured tournament series that we are hoping the players will love.


There is also a change of venue this time from Goa to Nepal. The IPC Megastacks will be the first domestic live poker series held in the Himalayan country. In your opinion, how will this impact things like player experience and possibly turnouts, among other things?

Honestly speaking, it’s my first time running an event in Nepal, but I’m sure it will be a good experience for everybody.


We have noticed that all events in the upcoming series have significantly deep structures. With the tournament buy-ins tilting more towards the higher side – do you think the ratio of professional or serious players compared to recreational will be higher this time around?

I believe both the professional and recreational players will have the same ratio. There is a good chance that recreational players will find themselves competing with pros or serious players because of the structures. It will be a good experience for both professional and recreational players.

Dextor Mercado


The last time we interviewed you, you had narrated your fascinating back story from starting as a dealer to becoming a well-respected tournament director. What would be your advice for the many people working in similar positions in India to climb up the ranks professionally?

Just do your best. Don’t stop learning because even after all this time, I am still learning. I ask questions and have friendly debates with my co-TDs. Learning never stops.

Dextor Mercado with his team
Dextor Mercado with his team


The COVID-19 pandemic caused a global lockdown, which meant that casinos and poker rooms were closed for almost two years in most places. Being a tournament director whose primary job revolved around live events, how did it affect you personally?

COVID-19 has profoundly impacted our daily lives. We had only limited movement or actions during the lockdown. Events were canceled, poker rooms were closed, and many opportunities were lost. The pandemic brought the entire world to a standstill. All my scheduled events were canceled. And now we are living in what we call “The New Normal.”


Now that live poker has started back up again, what does the rest of your year look like?

This year will be a busy year because I’m currently running two poker rooms here in the Philippines and will run a couple of events in other countries. I think next year it will be busier, especially in Asia.

Dextor Mercado


Any parting advice for all the players who have either confirmed or are seriously considering coming out to play the IPC Megastacks?

Players are all welcome. It will be an honor to see them play and consider attending the IPC Megastack. Expect that we will have deep and excellent structures for all events. It will be fun, and you will surely enjoy the game.

With that, Mercado signs off.


About IPC Megastacks

Shifting locales from the waters of Goa to the hills of Nepal, the IPC’s much-awaited comeback will happen as the revamped IPC Megastacks! The deep-structured series will run from May 17 to 22 and is the second time that IPC will be held in an international land casino, with the first one taking place at the Ballys Casino, Colombo, in Sri Lanka in 2013.


IPC Megastacks Schedule

May 17 @4 PM₹8K Mega Satellite₹8.50 Lakhs 10 PKG - Kickoff + ME
May 18 @5 PM₹25K Kick-Off₹50 Lakhs
May 19 @1 PMKick-Off Day 2₹50 Lakhs
May 19 @5 PM₹100K High Roller Day 1₹1 Crore
May 20 @1 PMHigh Roller Day 2₹1 Crore
May 20 @5 PM₹60K Main Event Day 1A₹2 Crores
May 21 @4 PM₹60K Main Event Day 1B₹2 Crores
May 22 @1 PMMain Event Day 2₹2 Crores
May 22 @4 PM₹15K Mystery Bounty-
May 23 @1 PMMain Event Final Table-
May 23 @4 PM₹20 Lakhs Freeroll₹10 Lakhs Cash + ₹10 Lakhs IOPC TKTs


But the series is not only about poker, as players will get the opportunity to enjoy a plethora of fun-filled activities. On May 19, all attending players can enjoy a grand party by the Hotel Mechi swimming pool! Players can also pay to book organized chopper rides and even take day trips to local attractions for those who love the outdoors!

If you haven’t made plans to attend this mega-series, then what are you waiting for? Make your presence known in what is sure to be a thrilling series!

Keep following PokerGuru for more updates from the IPC Megastacks!

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