Calm Amidst Chaos: Michael 'The Grinder' Mizrachi

Michael Mizrachi
Michael Mizrachi, Bellagio Five Diamond World Poker Classic - Day 1a

On a day where disruption reigned and the Fontana Room more closely resembled a zoo than a reputable place of gambling, Michael Mizrachi kind of faded into the background while Russ "Dutch" Boyd was racking up penalties and drunken louts were harassing Mike Matusow. Throughout the day, however, Mizrachi sat atop the leaderboard, garnering little attention but taking down pots all the same.

At one point during the day, Mizrachi had about a $150,000 lead on the rest of the field, hoarding chips as though he was hoping to get them all on Day 2 and avoid the hassle of a final table. Throughout the competition, "The Grinder" lived up to his nickname, relentlessly attacking pots and augmenting his stack by clinically wearing his opponents down. I talked to Mizrachi at the conclusion of Day 2.

So it looks like you're running good today. How'd you rack up so many chips?

Well, I don't have so many as I had, but I have like $344,000. My highest peak was around $455,000, about two and a half hours ago, and since then I haven't won any nice-sized pots, and nothing's been going my way. A guy flopped an overpair and I flopped top-two, and he turned a set after we'd gotten all-in on the flop. That was the only exciting hand there was, and I lost it. But I'm holding my own right now.

How did Day 1 go for you?

Michael Mizrachi

Day 1 was good. I got a lot of good hands; got paid off a lot. My biggest hand came when the board was K-Q-6 and the turn was a seven. We got all the money in, and I had a set of queens against a pair of kings, so that's where I doubled up. I had $70,000 and I got up to $140,000, and was able to end the day around $127,000.

Today I picked up about $200,000 for the day. So that's not too bad. I had a few big hands today. In the early, early levels, in Level 1 - on the first level today, I picked up like $200,000.

You had a big hand where you were flush over flush to bust your opponent.

I mean, I had flush over flush, I had kings over queens, and the board came 10-high. Those were pretty much the key pots for the day.

How were your table assignments? I noticed you were with Nenad Medic for most of the day.

Yeah, I mean it was pretty good. Every table's going to be tough, and every table's going to have pros. A lot of these guys are online players and they play really well too, so it's a tough field. It's not easy. It's not going to be easy to get there, but I'm going to try my best.

What's your strategy going into Day 3?

Well, it just depends who is at my table, and that's what will determine my strategy.

How do you like your chances of making the final table from where you stand right now?

Well, you're still an underdog, so it's a long way to go. We'll see what happens.

How has the year gone for you otherwise?

Michael Mizrachi

The year has been great, you know, no complaints yet. If I could just top this one off, and most likely win Player of the Year, it would be a great feeling to finish in first place.

What are your plans for 2007? Are you going to be in the Bahamas or the Aussie Millions?

I'll be in the Bahamas. It's right next to Miami, and I'd rather take a 45-minute flight than a 30-hour flight.

And after that?

I don't know. Probably Tunica.

Cool. Thanks, Grinder, and good luck on Day 3.

Thank you.

Despite his massive chip lead earlier in the day, Mizrachi cooled off a little towards the close of competition, and coasted into the end of the day in fifth place with $343,700. Ahead of him are Keith Lehr, Mads Andersen, Clonie Gowen, and Devin Porter, and although Gowen and Porter are definitely threats, you have to think the Grinder likes his chances to add a sixth WPT final table to his resume.

A victory at Bellagio this week would truly make 2006 the "Year of the Grinder," giving him a WPT title in the last event of the year to complement his $1,173,373 first place finish at the Borgata Poker Classic in February. There are plenty of pros still in contention, and a lot of poker left to be played, but if the past two days are any indication, you have to like Mizrachi's odds for success.

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