WSOP: Michael Mizrachi Claims 1st Bracelet in Players Championship

Grinder celebrates his first WSOP win with his three brothers Daniel, Eric, and Robert
Grinder celebrates his first WSOP win with his three brothers

When the final table of the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship commenced it was anyone’s guess who would walk away with the Chip Reese Trophy.  What everyone did know is there was a 25% chance the winner’s name would end in “Mizrachi.”  Brothers Michael and Robert Mizrachi were just the third siblings in history to clash at a WSOP final table and the brothers didn’t pull any punches when it came to one of the most prestigious tournaments of the year.

In the end, it was Michael, also known as the Grinder, alone at the top, but Robert was still on hand to celebrate despite getting knocked out in fifth place.  The whole Mizrachi clan was present as Grinder collected his first WSOP honor after a long, exciting, and surprising final table that kept everyone guessing who would win until the very end.

The roller coaster that was the $50,000 final table began with a double up for Daniel Alaei, who vaulted up the counts when his AK bested Mikael Thuritz’s pocket jacks. The very next hand David Oppenheim doubled through David Baker, pushing him from 500,000 1.8 million. Two hands later, Thuritz picked up a double up of his own at the hands of Robert Mizrachi—and all that action happened in just the first two orbits at the table.

As chips bounced around the table, labels like short stack and “chip leader” meant very little because one pot was the difference between first and last place. Case in point: the massive pot whereThuritz’s pocket kings ran into Vladimir Schmelev’s pocket aces. Schmelev took the 3.3 million chip pot and left Thuritz with less than the ante. Thuritz lasted for a couple of hands, but eventually busted out in 8th place.

The next big pot came when Oppenheim doubled through  Alaei after getting it all-in holding aces on a KT4 board against Alaei’s KQ.  Alaei improved to two pair with the Q on the turn, the T on the river made a better two pair for Oppenheim and give him the pot. After the hand, Alaei was extremely short. He doubled up once, then ran his A6 into Schmelev’s AK and hit the rail in 7th place. Schmelev was still stacking chips when Michael Mizrachi raised in middle position and Baker moved all-in for his last million from the small blind. Mizrachi called with AK, which had Baker’s AJ in bad shape. The KT864 was no help to Baker and he was out in 6th place.

Baker’s elimination hand gave Grinder the chip lead with 5 million chips, but Oppenheim wasn’t too far behind with 4 million in his stack—ten times what he started the day with. He would more than double that amount after the following hand with Grinder:

Oppenheim raised to 175,000 from under the gun and Grinder defended from the big blind. The flop fell Q54 and Grinder checked to Oppenheim, who bet 235,000. Grinder check raised to 735,000 and Oppenheim called. The turn brought the 8 and Grinder fired a bet of 1 million. Oppenheim moved all-in and Grinder deliberated before calling with AQ for top pair. Oppenheim’s 44 had Grinder drawing dead and he raked in the pot worth over 8 million chips.

The hand left Grinder low on chips, but he reloaded at the hands of his brother Robert. Grinder picked up his brother’s remaining 650,000 or so when his QJ bested Robert’s AT to eliminate his brother in 5th place. With Robert’s elimination, John Juanda was the new short stack at the table and it wasn’t long before he moved his last 1.3 million in with K9 and was called by Schmelev, who held pocket tens. The pair prevailed and Juanda was out in 4th place.

Oppenheim held the advantage at the start of three-handed play, but after a lengthy stretch of action, he found himself the short stack at the table while Mizrachi claimed the chip lead.  Soon Oppenheim found himself all-in with pocket eights to Grinder’s KQ. The board looked good for Oppenheim as it came 9647, but the Q on the river brought Oppenheim’s improbable final table run to a close, as he was knocked out in 3rd place.

The early goings of heads-up play favored Schmelev, who pulled to 3-1 chip advantage and looked to be on the verge of putting the Grinder away when he got it all-in holding AJ to Mizrachi’s A7.  The KT9 flop brought a flush draw for Grinder.  The Q on the turn made a straight for Schmelev, but the river brought the 5, bringing raucous cheers from Mizrachi’s family and friends as he doubled up.

From there, Mizrachi lived up to his nickname and grinded his way to a substantial chip lead.  The pivotal moment in heads-up play came when Mizrachi made a big raise on the river of an AQ833 board. Schmelev announced “call” and mucked when Mizrachi showed 23 for trip threes.

That hand left Schmelev with just 600,000 chips and it wasn’t long before he got it in holding Q8 to Mizrachi’s Q5.  The flop fell 964 and the 5 on the turn gave Mizrachi a pair that held up as the river card came down 4. His family and friends bursts into cheers and applause as Mizrachi celebrated his first career WSOP victory.

Afterwards, the man known as Grinder was quick to give props to his family, especially his brother Rob.

“I didn’t even know if I wanted to win or I wanted him to win,” Michael admitted. “We learn from each other. I’ve been playing for so many years and we learn from each other every single day.” He was also excited to become the brothers with the highest combined finish in WSOP history.

“It’s one of the greatest accomplishments somebody could ask for. I was fortunate to finish first and he finished fifth and I’m sure any two brothers would love to finish first and fifth in a tournament.”

Unfortunately for the Mizrachi’s it was Robert’s elimination that propelled Grinder up the counts and helped to set up his first-ever WSOP bracelet. “It was a feeling I’ve never felt before, because I’ve never knocked him out of a tournament,” Grinder said.  “It was heartbreaking. At least it turned out well.”

Here are the final table results from the Poker Player’s Championship:

1st: Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi – $1,559,046
2nd: Vladimir Schmelev – $963,375
3rd: David Oppenheim – $603,348
4th: John Juanda – $436,865
5th: Robert Mizrachi – $341,429
6th: David Baker – $272,275
7th: Daniel Alaei – $221,105
8th: Mikael Thuritz – $182,463

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