Michael Mizrachi grew up in "a family of gamblers," as he says, so maybe it was inevitable he'd become one of the most renowned poker players in the world.
"We grew up with slot machines and roulette tables in the house," he told PokerListings in an interview in 2017. "My brother used to have a slot machine during high school and sometimes my father would wake him up in the middle of the night and say ‘Rob, I need some quarters for the slot machine, like $10.'
"We were a family of gamblers. My mom would play Gin Rummy and all those games. Robert pretty much brought me on board as a kid and when I was 16 I was playing professionally."
Mizrachi has a twin brother, Eric, who played poker too but it was, as he says, his older brother, Robert, who got him interested in the game.
Inspired by Rob's online poker success Michael started online with Paradise Poker's $5/$10 Limit Hold'em and quickly moved on to PokerStars' $30/$60 and then $100/$200 games.
Though Michael originally harbored intentions of becoming a doctor, he dropped out of college in order to pursue poker full-time.
When Michael branched into tournament play he enjoyed immediate success at it, too. He has earned the nickname "The Grinder" because he keeps grinding out results wherever he can find them, winning tidy sums that make others wish they could "grind" half as well.
Back-to-Back on WPT
As mentioned Michael saw some early and immediate success on the live poker circuit. Michael made back-to-back final tables on Season 3 of the World Poker Tour, placing fifth in Tunica's World Poker Open in January of 2005 then winning the L.A. Poker Classic and its $1,859,909 first place prize in late February.
The Grinder would follow up his Season 3 heroics with a return to the final table in Tunica in Season 4, where his AJo ran into Scotty Nguyen's AQ of spades on the first hand of heads-up play, ending Mizrachi's night early and denying him a shot at a second WPT title.
But the iced-out Floridian wouldn't have to wait long for another shot at that title, as he found himself at the final table of the very next WPT event, this one at the Borgata in Atlantic City.
In A.C., Mizrachi outlasted a spectacular final table that included Amnon Filippi, Erick Lindgren and John D'Agostino, defeating J-Dags in heads-up play to earn his sweet vindication which came conveniently wrapped in a $1,173,000 first prize that also included a brand new Cadillac Escalade.
He says that all of his online experience prepared him well for the switch live play. "Playing online helped me learn how to play against passive and aggressive players. I adjust to many styles of play, so it makes it harder to play against me."
2010 WSOP for the Ages
Mizrachi fell off the tournament map for a couple years between 2008-09 but in 2010 the Grinder made his triumphant return with one of the most memorable WSOPs of all-time.
The Grinder kicked off his 2010 World Series of Poker by winning the very first open-event - the $50,000 Players Championship. In winning the tournament Mizrachi joined a select group of players to have won it that includes Chip Reese, Freddy Deeb, Scotty Nguyen and David Bach.
Mizrachi wasn't finished with the 2010 WSOP however and proceeded to cash five times, make three final tables and then the unimaginable occurred: Mizrachi made the final table of the 2010 WSOP Main Event. Here he is, shortly after making the most prestigious final table in poker:
Seventh with 14 million chips heading into the final table, Mizrachi was a slight underdog to add the $8.9 million first place prize to his tournament record in November. While he did ultimately fall short of the grand prize he did ladder up to finish 5th and collect $2.3m
He's still by far one of the most successful players to ever make the November Nine and single-handedly changed the atmosphere around the final table that year. As an added bonus, every male poker-playing member of the Mizrachi family (Rob, Eric, Michael and Donny) cashed in the Main Event that year.
3-Time Players Championship Winner
The disappointment of missing the Main Event championship has likely been sated by Mizrachi's numerous other successes around the world poker circuit and at the WSOP, none more notable than the two more $50k Players Championships which he won in 2012 and 2018.
With elite poker skill required in multiple variants and a truly dangerous field at every single table all the way through the tournament, this is the one event most poker players want to win the most, short of the Main Event.
Mizrachi is the only player to win three (Brian Rast has won 2). He also has a fourth WSOP bracelet from the 2011 WSOP Europe.
All told Mizrachi has over $17 million in live tournament earnings and continues to rack up the big scores at events like the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open in his home state and at WPT Deepstack events in Canada and Europe.
Michael Mizrachi: Floridian at Heart
Michael resides in Florida with his wife, Aidiliy Elviro, and their three children. Although his home is in Florida he still spends time traveling the tournament circuit. At one time he even conveyed his whole family along with him in a massive tour bus.
As one of the most notable players with a litany of big results Mizrachi has never failed to attract sponsors and has attempted to launch several poker-related ventures over the years.
The bus is gone but the Grinder in him is not, so Michael Mizrachi continues to be one of the most feared professionals in the world of big buy-in Hold'em affairs.