It’s one of most elite poker competitions in the world, but lately the $50,000 Poker Players Championship at the WSOP has felt like a Mizrachi family reunion.
Consummate poker pro Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi is once again within shooting distance of the championship while his older brother Robert made a deep run in the same tournament, eventually finishing 14th for $75k.
Every year Michael waits patiently for what has become a Mizrachi-signature event.
“It’s usually the only big buy-in I play every year,” Michael explained. “It’s the Poker Players Championship so I gotta defend my two titles.”
His results in the tournament are unparalleled.
In the six times Michael has played the event he’s outright won it twice. He took down his first WSOP bracelet for $1.5m in the 2010 edition. He added another $1.4m in the 2012 tournament.
Getting that kind of experience is invaluable, he says.
“I know what it’s like,” he said. “I’ve been playing it every year. It’s five days of grinding and playing all the games. Also my brother and I learned a lot from each other. Thanks Rob.”
WSOP Success Runs in the Family
Michael’s older brother Rob is no slouch in the $50k Poker Players Championship either.
Rob finished 14th in the 2014 tournament for $99k and also famously made the final table of the PPC's 2012 iteration along with Michael. Rob ended up finishing fifth that time for $341,429.
This year there were nearly two Mizrachi brothers at the $50k final table again but Rob ended up bowing out in 14th for $75k.
Rob already has a bracelet at this year’s WSOP but Michael insists there’s no competition between the brothers.
“We always root for each other,” he said. “Whatever happens, happens. It kinda sucked when were at the same table together this year. I couldn’t bust him a second time, that would have hurt.”
Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that Rob and Michael never discuss strategy anymore.
“We haven’t talked strategy in years,” laughed Mizrachi. “I don’t even remember the last time we talked strategy. It’s all just ‘How’d you do? I busted.’
"That’s it. We don’t even talk about hands.”
Winning First $50k PPC Launched Mizrachi Comeback
There’s a good chance the $50k Poker Players Championship will always have a special place in Michael’s heart.
In early 2010, during the throes of the US recession, the US government placed a lien of $339k on Michael. He also had two properties in Florida foreclosed, including a condo he owned with Rob.
Michael could have quit but instead he stormed back to win the $50k Poker Players Championship for $1.5m to kick off his 2010 WSOP.
He went on to make three more final tables including the WSOP Main Event, in which he ended up finishing fifth for $2.3m.
It was one of the most impressive performances at the WSOP ever and it even led ESPN commentator Norman Chad to label 2010 “The Year of the Grinder.”
When asked which PPC meant more, Michael was quick to point to that 2010 edition.
“It’s always the first one,” he said. “That was my first bracelet. It was amazing to win my first bracelet in the Poker Players Championship."
At the time this article was published Michael had just made the final table of eight players, including another former winner in Brian Rast as well as mix-game masters Justin Bonomo and Daniel Alaei.
Play will pause with six remaining and the bracelet will ultimately be decided tomorrow.
Michael is currently second in chips to Bonomo but it's tough to bet against him with $1.2m and another WSOP bracelet up for grabs.