MEET THE NOVEMBER NINE
Name: Michael Mizrachi
Nickname: The Grinder
Hometown: Miami, FL
Chip Count: 14,450,000 (7th in chips)
Mizrachi turned 29 in January.
Mizrachi was born in North Miami Beach, Florida.
Mizrachi now lives in Miramar, FL – which is north of Miami.
Mizrachi’s father immigrated to the United States from Iraq. He and many members of his family are fluent in Hebrew. “Mizrahi” means “east” in Hebrew language. The term is often used in reference to Jewish people from Iraq and Syria.
Mizrachi is a professional poker player. He has been playing full-time since 2004. Prior to playing poker, Mizrachi was a college student. He was studying to become a doctor, but decided instead to pursue a poker career.
Mizrachi is married. He has three children.
Mizrachi won his first WSOP gold bracelet earlier this year in the ultra-prestigious Poker Players Championship (Event #2) that carried a $50,000 entry fee. He collected $1,559,046 in addition to the annual Chip Reese Memorial Trophy.
Prior to his win in Event #2, Mizrachi had won just about every major title in poker except a WSOP gold bracelet.
Mizrachi was Card Player Magazine’s “Player of the Year” in 2006.
Mizrachi’s first recorded tournament cash took place in March, 2004.
According to official records – not including this Main Event -- Mizrachi now has 23 cashes, six final table appearances, and one win. His career WSOP earnings now total $2,271,327.
Mizrachi is called “the Grinder” due to his never-give-up mentality. He plays a short stack as well as anyone in the game. However, Mizrachi certainly does not fit the mold of the traditional poker grinder. The term is usually meant to describe a tight player. Mizrachi is actually one of poker’s most aggressive and unpredictable tournament pros.
Other members of the immediate Mizrachi family have adopted the “Grinder” moniker. He is married to Mrs. Grinder. His mother is known as Mama Grinder. His children each have been called Baby Grinder at various times.
Mizrachi is the younger brother of fellow tournament pro Robert Mizrachi, a former WSOP gold bracelet winner. In fact, Robert was the first member of the family to earn a WSOP victory.
Two of the Mizrachi brothers (Michael and Robert) reached the final table in the Poker Players Championship. It was only the third time in WSOP history that two close family members had made it together to a final table. They become the highest-finishing family duo in history, eclipsing the 1995 feat by brother-sister combo Annie Duke (6th) and Howard Lederer (9th) in a Pot-Limit Hold’em event. The other duo to make a final table was brothers Ross Boatman and Barney Boatman in the 2002 Pot Limit Omaha competition.
The only other brothers to both hold WSOP gold bracelets are Grant Hinkle and Blair Hinkle, from the Kansas City, MO area.
All four Mizrachi Brothers – Michael, Robert, Danny, and Eric – cashed in this year’s Main Event. This was a WSOP first.
Mizrachi remains very much in contention for the 2010 WSOP Player of the Year title. He must win the Main Event in order to tie Frank Kassela for first place. If both players tie, they will be co-WSOP Players of the Year.
With this guaranteed in-the-money finish, Mizrachi has earned more than $10,000,000 overall in worldwide poker tournaments.
Mizrachi goes into the Main Event final table ranked seventh in chips out of nine players.
Q&A with Michael
Below is a brief Q&A with Mizrachi, taken just hours after he made it to the November Nine.
Question: Each November Nine has developed into something like a fraternity the last few years. This comes from sharing a common experience. But you stand apart from the others given that you have been so successful in live poker tournaments. Does that make you different from the eight others who made it?
Mizrachi: I’m definitely going to take advantage of the situation. I think the cameras and spotlight can affect everyone’s play. And experience is what pays off for me. All these other guys get a hold of big stacks. But I just sit there with a smaller stack and grind it out. I knew that if I could just focus, I would get to the final table. I know that if I got this far, I always seem to do great. Just like in the Poker Players Championship. I never give up. I play hard and try to minimize my mistakes and make the right decisions.
Question: What about the recent past. The “big name” has not fared so well at the Main Event final table – such as Phil Ivey, Lee Watkinson, Allen Cunningham, Dan Harrington, and so forth. None of them won. Do you agree this is a similar situation?
Mizrachi: There’s no pressure on me really. I’m just happy with the way things went up to this point. In a sense, if you make the November Nine, you have won the tournament already. When it was ten-handed it was like a single-table satellite. But instead, there were nine winners and one loser. Everyone was just folding away and I started folding a lot too, once I reached a good chip position. I blinded off 3 million in chips, but I never had a hand….I am the Phil Ivey of this year. But there won’t be any pressure. I am just going to play my game. I am going to have fun and enjoy myself at the final table. I’m going to approach it just like another tournament, just like it was a $500 buy-in. I’m going to enjoy it. When you least expect it, that’s when you win. You just have to be confident in yourself and never give up.
Question: Where there any big hands you remember from the last few days?
Mizrachi: I've been here since (late May). There aren’t any hands I can remember, right now….but really, every hand you play in the Main Event is a big hand.
Question: Could you have even dreamed of a scenario where you would win the Poker Players Championship and also make the November Nine?
Mizrachi: No one knows how good of a poker player I am. Only I know how good I am. And Rob (brother) knows how good I am. We know each other well, how good we play. Thank God we have a great family and everyone is so supportive of us. It always helps out. I knew I would do well if I just stayed focused. It wasn’t so much motivation for me to do well, but it made a good story. I had some bad press in the beginning….No one picked me (to win) the Poker Players Championship. So, I used that as extra motivation. I knew I would do well here at the WSOP. I came here really focused.
Question: You’ve had some great moments in the game. You’ve also gone through some cold streaks. Do you still enjoy playing poker?
Mizrachi: If it was just a job, I do not think I would do it. It has to be something I enjoy doing. This is my career. You have to have the passion and love for the game and enjoy yourself. But, it’s a crazy way to bring food to the table.
Question: All four of the Mizrachi Brothers cashed – a WSOP first. Did your brothers playing and succeeding help you get this far?
Mizrachi: I looked each day and saw everyone survived. Then, I saw we all cashed. That really motivated me. I was thinking, ‘I sure hope one of us gets to the November Nine.’ And, I’m the one who prevailed.
Question: What if a genie were to pop out of a bottle and make you an offer. Right now, the genie offers you second place. You get $5.5 million as the runner up. You get plenty of face time on television. But, you do not get the win. Would you take the deal?
Mizrachi: Do I take the five-and-a-half million? If I wanted to lie to you, I would say no. But I definitely would take it.
The Main Event championship final table, also known as the November Nine, will be played starting on November 6th, 2010. The initial session of play will narrow the nine finalists down to two survivors. The final two players return two days later on November 8th to play heads-up for the 2010 world championship. This year’s winner will receive $8,944,138 in prize money, the coveted WSOP gold bracelet, and designation as the 2010 world poker champion.
To see a full list of all players who cashed in this year's Main Event, click here.