The inaugural Poker Player's Championship was won by Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi. He has been one of the most successful tournament pros over the last six years, now with nearly $9 million in accumulated tournament winnings.
“Grinding is the Mizrachi style, he said.”
Mizrachi had previously won just about every major title in poker except a WSOP gold bracelet. “If I was going to win a gold bracelet, I definitely wanted to win this event, said Mizrachi.” Today, he achieved that milestone by pulling off a masterful victory in the biggest buy-in tournament of the year.
The final table included Mizrachi playing against his brother Robert Mizrachi, who ended up finishing fifth. “There’s no competition between us. We root for each other all the time.” In an interesting turn, it was Michael who eliminated Robert in fifth place. “At least I put his chips to good use.”
This marked the highest finish by two family members in WSOP history. Three different nations were represented at the final table, including the United States, Sweden, and Russia. “The Grinder,” cheered on by much of the Mizrachi family, won $1,559,046. In addition to the coveted WSOP gold bracelet, Mizrachi was also presented with the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy.
“To win Chip Reese’s Trophy is really special to me. I hope to be able to honor him in the way he deserves.”
When asked about his previous status being listed near-universally as one of the top players never to have won a WSOP gold bracelet: “Well, take me off the list, then.”
About the newest WSOP bracelet winner:
“The Grinder” is from Miramar, FL. He is 29 and was born in Miami, FL. 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. For the complete tournament recap page, click here.
Mizrachi is married. He has three children. Mizrachi’s father is of Iraqi-Jewish decent. Mizrachi and most of his family are fluent in Hebrew. Mirzrachi has requested the Israeli anthem for his bracelet ceremony, in part because today's other bracelet honoree is from the U.S. he is choosing to honor his family heritage.
Although Mizrachi has been one of poker’s top tournament players over the past several years, he has run poorly during the past year or so. Mizrachi’s financial pressures were widely-documented in the media and in various social media networks. The personal setbacks created enormous tension coming into this year’s WSOP. However, Mizrachi remained focused and won what many consider to be not only the toughest competition in poker, but one of the most prestigious, as well.
Prior to this event, 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.
Mizrachi collected $1,559,046 for first place in the 2010 Poker Player's Championship. He was presented with his first WSOP gold bracelet.
According to official records, Mizrachi now has 20 cashes, four final table appearances, and one win. His career WSOP earnings now total $2,156,322. Mizrachi’s last WSOP-related cash took place more than a year ago in the WSOP Circuit Main Event championship held at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. He finished second in that tournament.
Mizrachi is called “the Grinder” due to his never-give-up mentality. Mizrachi certainly does not fit the mold of the traditional poker grinder, however. 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 Mizrachi family have adopted the “Grinder” moniker. His is married to Mrs. Grinder. His mother is Mama Grinder. His children each have been called Baby Grinder at various times.
Mizrachi stated he followed the advice of some other poker pros -- including J.C. Tran, Mike Matusow, and Robert Mizrachi. At one point when things were not going well at the final table and Mizrachi was on a break, Matusow encouraged Mizrachi to do jumping jacks in a back hallway to keep the blood flowing during the long tournament.
Mizrachi is the younger brother of fellow tournament pro Robert Mizrachi, a former WSOP gold bracelet winner.
Both Mizrachi brothers reached the final table. This was only the third time in WSOP history that two close family members had made it to a final table together. 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 the Pot-Limit Hold’em event. The other duo to make a final table was brothers Ross Boatman (7th) and Barney Boatman in the 2002 Pot Limit Omaha competition.
The only other brothers to both hold WSOP gold bracelets are Grant and Blair Hinkle, from the Kansas City, MO area.
The final table consisted of three former WSOP gold bracelet winners: John Juanda (4 wins), Daniel Alaei (2 wins), and Robert Mizrachi (1 win). Three different nations were represented at the final table: the United States, Sweden, and Russia.
The final table began eight-handed. This was due to the mix of games played the previous four days, which necessitated an eight-player format. Final table participants ranged in age from 23 to 38. In what is believed to be his first time as a final table’s “senior” player, John Juanda fit the bill as the elder statesman. The youngest player at the final table was David Baker.
The runner up was Vladimir Schmelev, from St. Petersburg, Russia. Schmelev had previously cashed in several European tournaments. This was his best showing in a WSOP event to date.
The third-place finisher was David Oppenheim (Los Angeles, CA). His performance was undoubtedly as impressive as anyone’s at the final table. Oppenheim started play with the lowest stack by far, yet managed to stay alive long enough to double up a few times. He then made a major move when play became five-handed and actually catapulted into the chip lead when there were three players remaining. But Oppenheim suffered a disastrous final hour and went out in third place. His final hand came with against Mizrachi’s . A queen fell on the river – as the final board showed , giving Mizrachi the pot with a pair of queens.
Oppenheim said afterward: “I’m pretty happy with the way I played today. And that’s what it’s all about. You just make the best decisions you can. Of course, it’s disappointing not to win, but it’s been a great tournament.”
The fourth-place finisher was John Juanda (Las Vegas, NV). He is a four-time WSOP gold bracelet winner. Juanda’s biggest win came two years ago in the 2008 WSOP Europe Main Event championship. Juanda moved all in with and got a call from Vladimir Schmelev with . The board came giving the Russian the pot, and putting Juanda out in fourth place.
Juanda was the winner of the longest final table in WSOP history. His win in London at WSOP Europe two years ago lasted more than 19 hours.
The fifth-place finisher was Robert Mizrachi (Miramar, FL). He won the $10,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha championship in 2006. This marked his 18th time to cash at the WSOP. Mizrachi was eliminated holding against . The final board ran out , making a pair of jacks the winner. The evil culprit who eliminated Robert Mizrachi? His brother, Michael. The Mizrachi brothers were understandably eager to create a storybook finish by playing heads up for the championship. They didn’t get that far, but still put on a memorable display that is sure to be much of the focus when this tournament goes down in the history books.
The sixth-place finisher was David Baker (Las Vegas, NV). He is a 23-year-old poker pro originally from Minnesota. He now lives in Las Vegas. Baker was eliminated holding against Michael Mizrachi’s . The board ran out , which meant the AK played. Baker has accumulated more than $700,000 in career tournament earnings. This marked his highest WSOP finish to date.
The seventh-place finisher was Daniel Alaei (Los Angeles, CA). Alaei previously won gold bracelets in Deuce-to-Seven Lowball and Omaha High-Low Split. He was expected to be a major force given his talent and experience but went out during the fourth hour of play.
The eighth-place finisher was Mikael Thuritz, who is originally from Stockholm, Sweden. He was eliminated about two hours into play. Thuritz began play at the final table with about an average-sized stack but was never a serious factor.
The number of hands played at the final table was 235, making this the shortest finale (by number of hands) in the history of this event and its $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. predecessor.
The final table officially began at 3:45 pm PST and ended at 3:56 am PST the following morning. Clocking in at just over 12 hours, this was also the shortest $50,000 buy-in finale in the five years such a tournament has been held.