All eyes on Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi. For the third straight day, Mizrachi leads the field in the 2018 World Series of Poker $50,000 Poker Players Championship, holding nearly twice as many chips as his closest competitor with just six players remaining. Going into Tuesday’s final day, Mizrachi has 8.865 million chips, compared to Dan Smith, who has 4.485 million.
Of course, the bigger news is what this could lead to: Mizrachi’s third Poker Players Championship bracelet. Though it is a small tournament – there were only 87 entries this year – it is one of the year’s most prestigious, as it features a rotating set of game types, requiring a diverse set of poker skills, and is populated by the best of the best.
The Poker Players Championship was introduced in 2006, though at that time it was the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship and was the largest buy-in event at the WSOP (since supplanted by the $1 million Big One for One Drop). It was a highly anticipated tournament, though it was criticized for having the final table be all No-Limit Hold’em, as a way to make it more appealing to television viewers. I had the good fortune to watch the final table in person, where the legendary Chip Reese beat Andy Bloch heads-up. Though full disclosure, the final table – and heads-up play – took so long that I had to catch a flight out of town before it was over.
Reese passed away in late 2007; the special trophy that goes to the winner of the event is named after him.
Michael Mizrachi is one of just two players to have won two Poker Players Championship titles in the twelve years the tournament has been held. The other is Brian Rast, whose most recent victory was in the tournament that Doyle Brunson said would be his last.
It was probably appropriate that Rast was knocked out yesterday by Mizrachi. The beginning of the end for Rast came in a Limit Hold’em round. Mizrachi raised pre-flop, Rast three-bet, Benny Glaser called, and Mizrachi made the call. On the flop of Q-9-5, Rast bet, Glaser raised, Mizrachi re-raised, and both opponents called. When the K was dealt on the turn, the first two players checked to Mizrachi who led out with a bet. Rast raised, Glaser folded, Mizrachi three-bet, and Rast called. An 8 came on the river and Rast checked to Mizrachi, who bet. After some pondering, Rast called, only to see Mizrachi flip over J-T for a straight.
That sent Rast’s stack tumbling to 900,000, while Mizrachi shot up to 6.350 million.
A few hands later, in a 2-7 Triple Draw hand, Mizrachi finished off Rast, eliminating him in eighth place.
Day 5 will commence at 2:00pm Las Vegas time with just a few minutes remaining in a No-Limit Hold’em round. There is still plenty of room for other players to make a run at the title, but everyone is looking for Michael Mizrachi to be the first player to win three $50,000 Poker Players Championship bracelets.
2018 World Series of Poker $50,000 Poker Players Championship – Final Table Chip Counts
1. Michael Mizrachi – 8,865,000
2. Dan Smith – 4,485,000
3. Aaron Katz – 2,600,000
4. John Hennigan – 2,400,000
5. Benny Glaser – 2,210,000
6. Mike Leah – 1,220,000