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Player Profile - Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi

29 January 2007

It's reasonable to think winning $2.3 million and topping most of the media's 2006 player of the year lists would be Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi's favorite accomplishments of 2006, but they didn't even come close.



Mizrachi is a family man - the birth of his daughter on Feb. 2 was a runaway winner.



Mizrachi welcomed his second child into the world the day after winning the 2006 Borgata Winter Open (WPT). He considers the $1.3 million victory a nice "it's a girl" gift.



"It was a wonderful couple of days for the family," Mizrachi said.



Player of Year snub fueled 2006 run



Family wasn't the only thing driving Mizrachi in 2006. Mizrachi said finishing fourth in the 2005 CardPlayer Poker Player of the Year (POY) race left a sour taste in his mouth.



He had expected to win the award after capturing a WPT title, appearing at two WPT final tables and winning more money than anyone in the CardPlayer top-ten.



Mizrachi used that disappointment to fuel his run at the 2006 POY title.



He got hot early, placing second in the WPT Gold Strike and winning the Borgata. The quick start gave him a lead he never he relinquished.



"I always have great starts," Mizrachi said. "It helps you out financially and mentally. You feel like if you start like this you can end like this. If you stay focused and play your game, you'll be successful."



Towards the end of 2006, the POY race played a part in his decisions at the table.



Mizrachi needed to outlast friends Nam Le and J.C. Tran at the Doyle Brunson North American Poker Classic in December to win the race. He played tight until the tournament director announced they were out.



Then he let loose, finishing 29th in the superstar-riddled tourney.



"It was one of my goals," Mizrachi said. "I came so close the year before, so I decided to make it a priority."



Grinding away



Don't let watching Mizrachi play poker on television fool you. He doesn't just dominate his opponents with simple aggression and off-the-cuff creativity.



Mizrachi is one of the most traveled players on all of the tours and he spends much of his downtime devising new ways to win. He plays in more than 100 tournaments a year.



In 2006, Mizrachi won five tournaments with buy-ins larger than $1,000 -- each paying out a six or seven figure prize. In total, Mizrachi made 15 final tables and cashed 23 times.



"I play more than most people because the tournaments are more my career," Mizrachi said. "I think about poker all the time. I try and make the money I need and hit my goals for the year early so I can focus on doing well in the big tournaments."



While most pros play exclusively in the larger buy-in events, Mizrachi plays in the smaller tournaments too. He uses those events to better his short-stack play.



He considers them practice, like a golfer going to the range to practice his big-tournament swing. He also wins them now and again.



"My minimum is a $1,000 buy-in," Mizrachi said. "You have to have a different strategy for every tournament. Everyday is a learning experience. I ask myself what I did wrong last time and back track through the tournament to see how I can do better next time."



World Series of Poker dreaming



The only thing missing from the Grinder's mantle is a WSOP ring.



Although he cashed six times in 2005, he's never finished higher than 11th at the WSOP.



"The WSOP seems harder for me," Mizrachi said. "It seems like I just I don't get there in the end."



The structure of WSOP events might have something to do with it. In WSOP tournaments, a player's starting stack is equivalent to the buy-in, meaning most of the smaller events start players off with 1,500 or 5,000 chips.



But Mizrachi is an action player who prefers to play any two cards from any position with a ton of aggression. This strategy has won the Grinder millions, but at WSOP tournaments with extremely large fields, action players often find themselves a victim of luck.



WPT events are different. Players with 10,000, 20,000, or 25,000 chips – depending on the buy-in. That eliminates some of the luck and gives action players like Mizrachi room to maneuver and amass large stacks via aggressive post-flop play.



"The structure is usually better for me in the WPT events," Mizrachi said.



Mizrachi doesn't believe his career would be incomplete without a WSOP title.



"My goal is to win, it's not to win certain things, Mizrachi said. "As long as you win more than you lose it's a good year. But I could always use a bracelet."



He predicts his time is coming.



"I'd say I'm a favorite to win a bracelet in the next two years."








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Player Profile - Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi is republished from CasinoVendors.com.
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Best of Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane

Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.
Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.