When Michael Mizrachi won the $50,000 Poker Players Championship in 2010, it was a story of resurgence, a career revival for a player that had been seen better days. Mizrachi’s second Championship victory is the crowning glory of an unbelievable run that includes three World Series of Poker bracelets, an appearance at the Main Event final table, and winnings in excess of $5 million over the last three years.
Mizrachi put on an absolute clinic Thursday night, wrapping up the title at a final table that lasted less than five hours. It started with busting two players on the same hand to grab the chiplead, and Mizrachi never really looked back. Chris Klodnicki was the last obstacle in Mizrachi’s way to a second Poker Players Championship, but there was little Klodnicki could do to stop him.
“It’s the best you could ever run at a final table,” said Mizrachi. “The cards went my way, and I think I played my best. When I got down to heads-up with Chris, it just kind of fell apart [for him]. I was just getting all the cards.”
Mizrachi, Klodnicki, and Andy Bloch started the final table bunched up near the top of the chip counts, but the first orbit would dramatically change the landscape. There were three hands of No Limit Hold’em that carried over from the unofficial final table of nine on Wednesday night, and the third and final hand would be that game-changer. Bruno Fitoussi entered as the shortest stack by a fairly wide margin, and he made his stand, open-shoving all-in for 170,000.
That’s when the real fireworks started.
Bill Chen flat-called Fitoussi’s all-in in late position, but Mizrachi three-bet to 400,000 from the big blind. Chen then sprung his trap, four-betting all-in for about 1.2 million, but Chen was all but beaten into the pot by Mizrachi who quickly called. Chen had the AK and Fitoussi the 87, but each was in deep trouble as Mizrachi had picked up AA as he looked to quickly reduce the field from eight to six. The K55 flop gave Chen two tangible outs, while Fitoussi needed some serious help, but he would pick up two outs of his own on the 8 turn. Neither two-outter would connect, as the 4 sealed the pot for Mizrachi, giving him the monster pot and increasing his chiplead considerably. Fitoussi had less chips and finished in eighth place, while Chen’s run at the final table ended far more quickly than he would have hope as he had to settle for seventh.
Stephen Chidwick showed his mixed game prowess earlier this Summer in the $1,500 HORSE, ultimately finishing third, but this was a bigger stage entirely. He started this final table in fourth place, but Mizrachi, Bloch, and Klodnicki took turns chopping him down in big pot after big pot. He would get a reprieve with a double-up during Razz, but when Pot Limit Omaha rolled around Mizrachi’s hot streak would continue.
Action folded around to Chidwick in the small blind and he raised to 72,000, which Mizrachi called in the big blind. The 882 flop brought a bet of 60,000 from Chidwick and a call from Mizrachi, with the 3 falling on the turn. There was enough in the pot for Chidwick to put his last 230,000, and Mizrachi obliged him with a call. It was bad news for Chidwick, as his KK54 was drawing slim aginst Mizrachi’s flopped full house with A842. The river was the 3, and Chidwick was sent away from his second WSOP final table of 2012 in sixth place.
Roland Israelashvili started out with the second shortest stack, but managed to largely stay away from the buzzsaw that was the three-headed monster of Mizrachi, Klodnicki, and Bloch. He continued to get shorter and shorter until he took his stand in Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw. One raise was enough to get the rest of Israelashvili’s chips in, and he got called by both Bloch and Mizrachi. Bloch and Israelashvili took two cards each, while Mizrachi drew three. Bloch and Mizrachi checked and each took two cards on the second draw, while Israelashvili took one. They checked again and took one card each while Israelashvili stood pat. Action was checked around a third time, and the hands were opened. Israelashvili had a jack-eight, hoping that each player would miss their draws, but Bloch made an eight-seven low on the final draw to put the final nail in Israelashvili coffin, sending him to the rail in fifth place.
Luke Schwartz was suddenly the shortest stack by a fair amount, but if one thing was for certain he would not be finishing fourth due to a lack of confidence or aggression. The brash Brit has made a reputation for himself as a big talker, but this would be by far his biggest career cash, regardless of where he ended up. He got one double-up through Klodnicki to get a little traction, and looked poised to double up a second time through Klodnicki to get over 1 million.
Action folded around to Klodnicki in No Limit Hold’em, and he bet enough to put Schwartz all-in, and Schwartz called. He got good news as he was well ahead with A9 against Klodnicki’s A6, but KKQ flop brought quite a few chop possibilities. The 5 on the turn kept Schwartz ahead, and he begged the dealer for anything but a six on the river. Unfortunately for Schwartz, however, it was indeed the 6, and Klodnicki made two-pair on the river to send Schwartz away in heartbreaking fashion in fourth place.
That left Mizrachi, Klodnicki, and Bloch, the three biggest stacks to start the final table who only continued to build as the field shrank. They were all very deep, but in the eight-game format pots can obviously get very big in No Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha. It was a PLO pot that served as the turning point during three-handed play, between 2010 Players Championship winner Mizrachi and 2006 runner-up Bloch.
All three players saw a KQ2 flop, Mizrachi bet 200,000, and Bloch called. The turn was the 2 and Bloch check-called 350,000, bringing the T on the river. This time Bloch led out for 500,000, but Mizrachi would not turn down the aggression, bumping it all the way up to 2.5 million. Bloch eventually called and tabled QQ85 for queens-full, but Mizrachi had him the whole way with KK97 for kings-full. This gave Mizrachi the chiplead with almost 9 million and reduced Bloch to just over 1 million. A Limit Hold’em pot reduced Bloch’s stack even further, and Bloch would not be able to make it to the next game in the mix.
Bloch’s last 260,000 got in preflop in Limit Hold’em with both Klodnicki and Mizrachi involved, and they each checked the 773 flop. Klodnicki bet the 7 turn, Mizrachi folded, and the cards were turned over, with Klodnicki ahead with AJ but Bloch still live with Q4. The 8 on the river brought Bloch’s hopes of topping his previous best finish of runner-up to an end in third place.
Mizrachi held a significant lead of not quite two-to-one with 10.5 million to Klodnicki’s 5.7m when heads-up play began. Then Mizrachi got to work on whittling down Klodnicki’s stack, absolutely dominating the Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw round and winning several big pot that went all the way to the third draw to increase his lead to 13.5 million against Klodnicki’s 2.7 million. There were some token efforts at a comeback by Klodnicki, and he never gave up, but this title was simply Mizrachi’s to win.
On the final hand, Klodnicki’s got the last of his chips in with AJ92 in Omaha Hi-Lo against Mizrachi’s QJ98. The board ran out TT76A to give Mizrachi a straight and the final elimination of the final table, one of four players busted at the hands of The Grinder.
Sometimes it’s just your day to hold all of the cards.
Here are the final table payouts for the 2012 WSOP Poker Players Championship.
- Michael Mizrachi $1,451,527
- Chris Klodnicki $896,935
- Andy Bloch $561,738
- Luke Schwartz $406,736
- Roland Israelashvili $317,882
- Stephen Chidwick $253,497
- Bill Chen $205,856
- Bruno Fitoussi $169,879
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