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Poker Stories Podcast With Michael Mizrachi

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Sep 26, 2018


Poker Stories is a long-form audio podcast series that features casual interviews with some of the game’s best players and personalities. Each episode highlights a well-known member of the poker world and dives deep into their favorite tales both on and off the felt.

Age: 37
Born: Miami, Florida
Live Tournament Earnings: $16.8 million

Top Five Tournament Scores

Nov. 2010 WSOP Main Event 5th $2,332,960
Feb. 2005 WPT LA Poker Classic 1st $1,859,909
June 2010 WSOP $50k Players Championship 1st $1,559,046
June 2012 WSOP $50k Players Championship 1st $1,451,527
June 2018 WSOP $50k Players Championship 1st $1,239,126

Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi is one of the most accomplished poker tournament players in history, with four World Series of Poker bracelets, and two World Poker Tour titles. The 37-year-old got his career started by winning the L.A. Poker Classic in 2005, and followed that up by taking down the Borgata Winter Poker Open in 2006, the same year he won the Card Player Player of the Year award. Although Mizrachi has experienced his fair share of hardship following downswings, a tough real estate market, and some failed investments, he has always seemingly bounced back, as he did in 2010, when he took fifth in the WSOP main event for $2.3 million.

Mizrachi has particularly excelled in the $50,000 buy-in Poker Players Championship, which he has won an incredible three times. The South Florida native first held the Chip Reese Memorial trophy in 2010, and did so again in 2012, and again this summer. (He even finished fourth in 2016!) With more than $16.7 million in career live tournament cashes, Mizrachi currently sits in 26th place on the all-time earnings list. He is one of four poker-playing Mizrachi brothers, including Eric, Donny, and four-time bracelet winner Robert.

Highlights from this interview include a disdain for robots, 10-second decisions, a family of gambling enthusiasts, Rob’s envelopes, ladies poker night with mom, the living room casino, bussing tables at Bennigan’s, the six-figure RV, the downside of real estate, the upside of gold, being a three-time $50k champ, being a feel player, playing with no cards, holding on to your money, not gambling for a year, joining an adult swim team, high-stakes mixed games, losing a $170k pot to Daniel Alaei, losing money on swaps, listening to the way they breathe, getting fired from his dealing job, and fictional arrest scenarios.

The Highlights

On the problem of excessive tanking in live poker tournaments…

“I’ve always been in favor of the action clock [in poker], the shot clocks. I played two shot clock tournaments, the [World Poker Tour] Tournament of Champions, and I finished second and third in back-to-back years. I just can’t stand when people take so long, three-to-five minutes a hand. I respect the fact that you want to trap the guy, Hollywood the guy, whatever, but it’s not fair to the rest of the table. I mean, if you think you are the best player at the table, why wouldn’t you want to get the hand over with and play twice as many hands? All these robots take so long and they’re used to this different style, where they think they are intimidating somebody or get under their skin. I’m here to play poker, not sit there and wait ten minutes a hand. I guarantee you that everybody knows their decision in ten seconds. It shouldn’t take longer than that to act.”

On his infamous RV purchase following his first WPT win…

“I always wanted an RV, that was my dream. When I won the [WPT LAPC at] Commerce, when you’re that age… This was 2006, 12 years ago, so I was 25 years old. You don’t really make smart decisions at that age. What are you going to do? It’s only $178,000, and I just won $1.8 million. 10 percent of my winnings and you know that thing is just going to depreciate the second you drive off the lot. I bought it cash. This was a 40-foot bus, I couldn’t even see out the back. It had a camera. Right when I got to the Commerce Casino, I pulled this thing in, and everyone was like ‘what the heck?’ And all you hear is [this scraping sound] as I hit a stop sign, scratching up the whole side on the first day. I actually never took it out of California. I took it from San Diego to San Jose and that was it. I had a driver send it to Vegas, ended up living there for a little bit, before I ended up buying a house. I sold the RV for $138,000, so I lost like $40,000 on it after six months.”

On his accomplishments in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship…

“I don’t want to give any tips away, because I’m going to be looking for a fourth victory, but I think I’m just a really well-rounded [player]. I wouldn’t say I play all the games to perfection, but I feel like I’m almost there. There are a lot of great players in that event, but they’re not perfect [either]. I have my tournaments style that works well for me. I play in the big mixed cash games as well, but I just know in tournaments how to make that adjustment. Then you have the big bet games where the mixed-game players don’t have as much experience in PLO or no-limit. Then you have the big bet players, who don’t have much experience in limit games, so that’s what gives me the edge. So far, one of the toughest guys I’ve played against was Brian Rast, who is a two-time winner. And he’s another guy whose game is well-suited for [this tournament], who’s really good at all the games.” ♠

You can check out the entirety of the interview in the audio player at the top of the page or download it directly to your device to play on the go from iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app.

Catch up on past episodes featuring notables such as Daniel Negreanu, Nick Schulman, Barry Greenstein, Bryn Kenney, Justin Bonomo, Mike Sexton, Brian Rast, Scott Seiver, Freddy Deeb, Joe Cada, Maria Ho, and many more. If you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe to get the latest episodes automatically when they are released.