Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi capped off several days of dominance on Tuesday as he won the 2018 World Series of Poker $50,000 Poker Players Championship for an astounding third time in only the thirteenth year of the tournament’s existence. Defeating John Hennigan, another previously winner of the event, heads-up, Mizrachi cashed for $1,239,126.
Mizrachi previously won the event in 2010 and 2012. He also has a fourth bracelet, earned in the France €10,000 Mixed No-Limit Hold’em event at the 2011 World Series of Poker Europe.
“When I won the first one, it was amazing,” Mizrachi said afterward. “The second one, it was great. I mean, the third one is so unheard of.”
Mizrachi was previously in a tie with Brian Rast with two bracelets won in the Poker Players Championship. He eliminated Rast from the tournament on Monday. For a tournament that has not been around for very long, that two players have nearly 40 percent of the victories is quite something.
The champ credits – probably with tongue firmly implanted in cheek – an accident at the table (not THAT kind of accident) for his luck turning early on in the tourney.
“I don’t think I ever ran this good in a tournament,” he explained. “Everything changed the day, I think it was Day 2. I was short and I spilled coffee on the table. It was a seven-minute delay and we had to move tables. After that, everything turned around. It was a good move by me.”
From there, Mizrachi led almost the entire rest of the way, finishing as the chip leader from Day 2 on; he never lost the lead at the final table. The coffee spilling move almost sounds like some silly thing a writer would put in a sitcom script.
While the $10,000 Main Event gets all the attention, the Poker Players Championship is probably more prestigious among poker players. The high buy-in combined with the multitude of rotating game variations creates a field dense with top pros and is a real test of poker skill. It’s not called the Poker Players Championship for nothing. One doesn’t have to be elite at every discipline, but you can’t be terrible at anything.
“I’ve always played all the games,” said Mizrachi. “I played a lot of stud. Stud was my best game and I played a lot at the Commerce Casino in their $100/$200 limit game. I played online all the mixed games. You know, I learned the 2-7 back I the day, the badugi when it came out. Every time something comes out I like to learn something new.”
Going into the final hand, Mizrachi had almost a 3-to-1 chip lead and the game was changing to his strength, No-Limit Hold’em. And even with that huge lead, he had a specific strategy to try to finish things off.
“I knew with John heads-up, I had more experience in the no-limit one,” Mizrachi said afterward. “And I knew he was going to try and play a big pot and try to double up through there. I picked the right spot and I thought it was a good hand selection with position and the eight-nine of hearts. I was shocked to see that hand. I was happy to see I was in good shape.”
Mizrachi raised with that hand pre-flop and was three-bet by Hennigan. Mizrachi made the call and flop came down Q♥-9♠-5♥. All the chips got in at that point as Hennigan flipped over J-T for an open-ended straight draw. A heart fell on the turn, giving Mizrachi a flush and making the river meaningless.
2018 World Series of Poker $50,000 Poker Players Championship Final Table Results
1. Michael Mizrachi – $1,239,126
2. John Hennigan – $765,837
3. Dan Smith – $521,782
4. Mike Leah – $364,197
5. Benny Glaser – $260,578
6. Aaron Katz – $191,234