Michael Mizrachi never stops doing the impossible.
The man known as “The Grinder” made his fourth career final table in the World Series of Poker $50,000 Poker Players Championship Monday evening. He enters Tuesday’s finale as the chip leader and with an excellent opportunity to win the most important mixed game event on the schedule for the third time. He and Brian Rast are the only players to win it twice.
Amazingly, this is also the first WSOP tournament of the summer for Mizrachi. Instead, he’s mostly been sticking to cash games of the $500/$1,000 Big Bet variety. Mizrachi tweeted he was not a viable pick for the $25,000 Fantasy Draft and held true to that sentiment for the first three weeks of the series.
As life goes, Mizrachi plays for his sixth career score of at least $1 million.
“To tell you the truth, I didn’t know if I was playing any tournaments,” Mizrachi told USPoker. “I was playing the bigger cash games. I decided to play this at the last minute. I was like, ‘How can I not play this event?’”
The poker public knew Mizrachi for his victories at no-limit final tables in the 2000s thanks to numerous appearances on the World Poker Tour. In the past 10 years, all of Mizrachi’s largest cashes outside of his 2010 November Nine run were in the eight-game format of the PPC.
How is he doing this?
Poker has changed but Mizrachi’s infamous style remains. A feel player if there ever was one, Mizrachi infamously said “Don’t play like me.”
The aggression principles of no-limit carry over in the PPC format and Mizrach credits his lifeblood of mixed games to his success in this difficult tournament.
“I always had a lot of experience in all the games. I started in limit poker. My brother, Robert, he has a lot of experience being an all-around player. We learned from each other.”
Mizrachi’s results prove his prowess. The three-time bracelet winner has a top-10 finish in every variant involved in the PPC outside of Razz. Twice, Mizrachi finished third in a WSOP Pot Limit Omaha tournament and 2011, he placed second in the Omaha/Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better mix.
There is no doubt that Mizrachi’s tournament skills have stood the test of time. Chip Reese may not have envisioned a bruiser from Miami being the face of the event with the trophy branded by his name but Mizrachi’s results impress even the game’s all-time greats. Should he win again, Mizrachi is all but a lock for the Poker Hall of Fame.
Now in its 13th year, the PPC has undergone changes from year to year. Formerly a no-limit hold’em-only final table and H.O.R.S.E event for the first few years, Mizrachi watched the tournament change in front of him.
“It’s changed because the final table is no longer no-limit for TV. The second one, we played the regular eight-game mix. I’ve been in so many situations that I know how to adjust to the players.”
Mizrachi’s second win in 2012 came against a game group of pros who remain established including Chris Klodnicki, Stephen Chidwick, and Luke Schwartz.
The inaugural bracelet featured the pre-Black Friday group since phased out of the WSOP, by choice. John Juanda and Daniel Alaei no longer compete in more than a few events each summer.
The challenge ahead
His foes at the 2018 final table are among the best in the world. Mike Leah, Dan Smith, John Hennigan, Benny Glaser are regular faces in the $10,000 events at the WSOP. Aaron Katz owns a bracelet dating back to 2004 and is in the money for the second consecutive year in the PPC.
The diverse characters are a challenge for Mizrachi to compete against but he is confident in a strategy to leverage his chip lead and mash his way toward history.
“I adjust to the players [and know] what pots to play against the players,” Mizrachi said. “Especially the no-limits, the big bet games. I know who the better players are in that game and try to keep the pots small. If I have a hand, build some pots. Every player I take seriously and there’s a lot of great players in this event.”
Mizrachi alluded to him playing this event is a surprise to even him. The cash game route allowed him to enter with no rust.
As only Mizrachi can, a whim turned into profit and a day away from $1.239 million. It is his event, after all.
“This is my event. I wasn’t burnt out, I was fresh from tournaments. I hadn’t even walked into this room the whole series. I was like, ‘You know what? Let me try this event and see how it goes.’ I have a lot of experience in this event, I always put myself in a good position to win. I like my chances for tomorrow.”
Lead image courtesy of WPT/Flickr