Ho Hum: Michael Mizrachi Wins Another WSOP $50,000 Players Championship
You know, you would think the writers of this reality would come up with some fresh new ideas. The $50,000 Poker Players Championship at the World Series of Poker had existed for a dozen years prior to 2018 and two players had won a third of the titles. And now, one of those players, Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi has won for a third time. I mean, can’t we be treated to a surprise twist or something? Like perhaps Mizrachi slowrolls his winning hand just to build up to the moment when he pulls off his mask and reveals that HE WAS SIA LAYTA ALL ALONG!
The Poker Players Championship began in 2006, when it was originally the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event. There was a great deal of excitement in the air (sick brag: I was there), as it was the largest buy-in tournament at the WSOP at the time and was expected to attract the elite of the elite in the poker world to see who was the best all-around player. Chip Reese beat Andy Bloch in a marathon heads-up match for the inaugural title (it took so long that I left early so I wouldn’t miss a flight home for the weekend).
The special trophy that goes to the winner of the tournament is called the Chip Reese Memorial trophy in honor of the event’s first winner, who passed away in late 2007. The tournament was changed to an 8-game mix event in 2010 and renamed to the Poker Players Championship; it is now a 10-game mix event.
Michael Mizrachi won in both 2010 and 2012, averaging about $1.5 million in earnings. That he won a third Poker Players Championship this week, breaking his tie with Brian Rast, who won in 2011 and 2016, is patently absurd.
He’s Humble, But He Knows What He Did Was Unparalleled
“When I won the first one, it was amazing. The second one, it was great. I mean, the third one is so unheard of,” Mizrachi said in his post-game interview, clearly agreeing with me.
Mizrachi gave much respect to the poker gods, not exactly saying he was a luckbox, but kind of saying he was.
“I don’t think I ever ran this good in a tournament,” he explained. “Everything changed the day, I think it was Day 2. I was short and I spilled coffee on the table. It was a seven-minute delay and we had to move tables. After that, everything turned around. It was a good move by me.”
Ah, the old coffee soak gambit.
“All the cards went my way, don’t get me wrong. I hit a bunch of hands,” Mizrachi added. “I was just waiting for that one big rush and it actually happened in Omaha hi-lo and everything went my way. I just won every pot and before you know it, I think I went from eight to 13 or 14 million. That’s the rush I waiting for.”
Mizrachi most definitely hit a hand to end it. He had 8-9 and decided to raise pre-flop as one is wont to with suited connectors heads-up. This is the sort of hand he was looking for, too:
I knew with John heads-up, I had more experience in the No-Limit one. And I knew he was going to try and play a big pot and try to double up through there. I picked the right spot and I thought it was a good hand selection with position and the eight-nine of hearts. I was shocked to see that hand. I was happy to see I was in good shape.
Hennigan re-raised him and Mizrachi decided to call to see a flop of Qh-9s-5h. Middle pair and a flush draw. The two men got into a raising war after that, getting all their chips in the middle. Hennigan wasn’t in horrible shape, holding Jd-Tc for an open-ended straight draw (though one of his outs was gone), but another heart hit on the turn, giving Mizrachi his flush and his third Poker Players Championship title.
This was also Mizrachi’s fourth bracelet overall, the other coming in the €10,400 Split-Format No-Limit Hold’em event at the 2011 World Series of Poker Europe.
Since his win, Mizrachi’s poker colleagues have expressed their admiration for the accomplishment. One of the more eloquent tweets came from the legendary Erik Seidel, who wrote, “Part of the thrill of poker tournaments is witnessing the incredible. @TheGrinder44 just put his stamp on history, amazing.”
2018 World Series of Poker – $50,000 The Poker Players Championship Final Table Standings
1. Michael Mizrachi – $1,239,126
2. John Hennigan – $765,837
3. Dan Smith – $521,782
4. Mike Leah – $364,197
5. Benny Glaser – $260,578
6. Aaron Katz – $191,234
Lead photo credit: WSOP.com