Michael Mizrachi isn’t quite as well known to the world as the biggest poker names of today are, names such as Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, and Phil Hellmuth, or even some of the famous online pros, but in spite of not having the sort of fame and name recognition as some of these players, his success at the poker tables over the years is deserving of being in this elite class.
Born in Miami, Florida, on January 5, 1981, he is still just in his early 30’s, and in spite of the success he’s already achieved, has much of his poker career still ahead of him. Nicknamed “The Grinder,” alluding to his persistent and patient way of building his chip stacks during tournaments, this style may lack the drama of some players, but it has been a very effective one for Mizrachi over the years.
Like a lot of players, of various playing strengths, Michael Mizrachi found his calling while attending college. He got turned on to poker by his older brother, Robert Mizrachi, while in his early teens, and Robert ended up becoming a pretty successful pro in his own right and has put together over $5 million in winnings in tournament poker over the years.
Michael’s plans were to become a doctor though, but while in college and playing online poker on the side, and as has been the case with more than a few college students, he discovered his talent and true calling and made the decision to drop out of college and become a poker pro instead. This decision certainly turned out to be a good one for him.
It didn’t take long for him to get his new career not only off the ground but in the limelight. In early 2005, in just his second year after turning pro, and just having turned 24, he made his first final table at a World Poker Tour event, the World Poker Open, sitting alongside poker greats Daniel Negreanu and Scotty Nguyen, two of the biggest names in poker. He held his own and finished fifth.
Only a month later, he very convincingly showed that this final table appearance was not a fluke, at the LA Poker Classic, going up against more big names in poker, including Ted Forrest and Eric Lindgren, both multiple WSOP bracelet holders. This time though he came out on top and took home almost $2 million in prize money.
Later that same year, he tied the WSOP record of seven money finishes in a single year, further showing that his talent was to be reckoned with. He didn’t win a bracelet that year, but he was on the scene and clearly one of the best young players on the pro circuit.
The great thing about a big cash or a great year is that this can keep you going for a while until you hit your next big score, and Mizrachi certainly saw 2005 set him up nicely for a while. The next few years were more of a grind for The Grinder, and while he didn’t exactly hit the skids, he ended up having to sell the motor home he bought from his poker winnings to take his family on the road with him during this time, as well as seeing a couple of properties he bought foreclosed on.
Then, in 2010, it turned out that he hadn’t been paying his taxes over this period of relative lull either, and got slapped with a federal tax lien of almost $340,000. Fortunately for him though, 2010 was a better year for him at the poker tables, a much better one in fact, which not only bailed him out of trouble, it really shot him to the top echelon of the poker world as well.
Michael really had a good year at the WSOP in 2010, not only winning prestigious $50,000 buy in Player’s Championship, but making the November Nine as well, the final table for the main event to be played later that year, in November.
He didn’t win, but he did go on to finish 5th, being eliminated by eventual winner Jonathan Duhamel. Mizrachi did take home over $2.3 million for that effort, and along with the over $1.5 million he pocketed for the Player’s Championship win, he was back, and with a vengeance.
So he now had his first WSOP bracelet, matching the achievement of his brother Robert, who had won his first bracelet 3 years earlier. Robert was on hand to help his brother celebrate his first win, being seated right at the final table with him, and finishing 5th.
This resulted in his being awarded the All In player of the year for 2010, and while he had already achieved some fame and success back in 2005, when he broke in, the great year he had in 2010 really cemented him in the category of the best poker players of today.
The next year, in 2011, he won his second WSOP bracelet, this time in a no limit holdem event, although the take home pay for this one was far more modest, under half a million dollars, but that’s still a good chunk of change for a few days’ work.
The Players Championship at the WSOP attracts the world’s best players and is a testimony to a poker players’ skills across a variety of different poker formats. 8 different games were played back then, and the winner not only collects first prize but also gets the Chip Reese trophy, named for one of the best poker players of all time and the first winner of this tournament back in 2006.
So the year was 2012 and no one had ever won two of these titles, but by the time this year’s Players Championship was over this was no longer the case, as Mizrachi successfully took home first place and held the Chip Reese trophy once again, and earned his third WSOP bracelet in the process. To this day he remains the only multiple Players Championship winner.
Mizrachi credits his experiences starting out playing online poker as central in his success as a live tournament pro. “I think my experience on the internet helped my game because I played so many hands of poker.”
There is no doubt that the sheer number of hands that one can play online certainly provides the kind of training environment that can translate into success in face to face poker, although there are of course some other skills that you need, but Michael ended up mastering that part of the game as well in short order. “ I have great reads on people and I follow my instincts.”
It also takes a lot of confidence to be a top poker pro, and we see this with just about all of the top players, and this is a quality that Michael Mizrachi possesses as well. He is also not only motivated by the desire for personal success, but is a real family man as well. “I just like to win, I do it for the people who love me and my friends. I came to the poker world looking to shatter all records. The way I play, I know I can really keep winning and winning.”
While he hasn’t exactly shattered all records yet, he has had a very successful poker career so far and there’s no reason to think it will end anytime soon. Michael Mizarchi now sits 14th on the all time tournament money list, with lifetime winnings of over $15 million.
He currently lives in Miramar, Florida, with his wife Aidilly, son Paul, and daughter Julie. Aidilly is a poker player as well, known as “Mrs. Grinder,” and has had a little success at the game, winning about $43,000 over her career. Michael does credit his wife though for helping keep him in line, and in particular in keeping him focused on poker, the game he is gifted at, and away from the casino games which has been the undoing of more than a few poker players.
Michael Mizrachi is not only one of the best poker players in the world right now, he’s a truly likeable guy with a very good head on his shoulders. His main piece of advice for players is to “just play your best and take it from there.” This is great advice indeed, and also gives us some good insight into how he’s managed to do so well for so long, with all the ups and downs that tournament poker lays on you. He’s certainly poised to add further to what’s already been a very impressive poker career.