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Michael Mizrachi Wins $50,000 Players Championship

Mizrachi Takes Home First Bracelet, $1,559,043, and the Most Respected Title in Poker


Michael Mizrachi Wins the $50,000 Players ChampionshipThe final table of the $50,000 Players Championship at the 2010 World Series of Poker was an epic affair, and that’s not just because it lasted 235 hands. It had everything you could ask for at a final table. Huge swings, different styles of play, changes in pace, and a rookie bracelet winner that crossed another name off the best to never win a bracelet list.

WSOP records were broken as the ESPN cameras rolled. A huge crowd stayed late into the night and cheered all the way through to the wee hours of the morning. There was even a sibling rivalry thrown in for good measure.

The WSOP may have officially started six days ago when 116 poker professionals entered the $50,000 Player Championship and created a prize pool in excess of $5.5 million, but it really got started when the champion, Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi, was awarded $1,559,046, his first gold bracelet, and the Chip Reese Memorial trophy on Wednesday morning. Read on below to get a taste of the drama. Here were the chip counts when the final table began:

Seat 1 — David Baker — 3,095,000
Seat 2 — Mikael Thuritz — 2,300,000
Seat 3 — Vladimir Schmelev — 1,925,000
Seat 4 — John Juanda — 2,620,000
Seat 5 — Daniel Alaei — 1,705,000
Seat 6 — Michael Mizrachi — 2,175,000
Seat 7 — David Oppenheim — 460,000
Seat 8 — Robert Mizrachi — 3,125,000

NOTE: See full elimination hands below.

The first dozen hands at the final table marched into the record books quietly before Daniel Alaei doubled up on the 13th hand of play. David Oppenheim doubled up on the very next hand, and Mikael Thuritz doubled up two hands later. Thuritz then doubled up again, but then Vladimir Schmelev doubled up through him and Thuritz was crippled with just 5,000 in chips. He wasn’t done there though, he quadrupled up on the very next hand, and then chopped a pot with Michael Mizrachi. The chop was his final gasp, he fell in eighth place ($182,463) thanks to a Grinder full house a few hands later.

Robert Mizrachi won the first battle between brothers when he bet 400,000 on a 9Spade Suit 5Club Suit 4Spade Suit 2Heart Suit board and the Grinder mucked. The Grinder recovered from the battle of brothers by doubling up through David Baker a few hands later. Baker had come into the final table in second-chip position but the Grinder was not the first player he had doubled up during the early going and his stack was hurting at 1.8 million. Alaei had suffered a fate similar to Baker and he was eliminated by Schmelev in seventh place ($221,105), just before Baker fell in sixth place ($272,275) against the Grinder.

With the elimination of Baker the Mizrachi brothers set a new WSOP record for highest finish in the same tournament by a pair of siblings. They topped the sister and brother duo of Annie Duke and Howard Lederer, who finished sixth and ninth respectively in a $1,500 pot-limit hold’em event in 1995, and the brother duo of Ross and Barny Boatman, who finished in seventh place and ninth place respectively in a $1,500 pot-limit Omaha w/rebuys event in 2002.

Robert was the next player to bust in fifth place ($341,430), in the poker edition of Cain and Abel the Grinder took out his brother. It was a surreal moment at the final table that was eerily quiet. Four-handed play didn’t last too long when John Juanda busted in fourth place ($436,865) a few hands after Robert, but that just set that stage for a long three-handed battle. Oppenheim held a nice lead with 9.8 million, while Schmelev trailed with 5 million and the Grinder was at risk with 2.6 million.

It took 45 hands for the final three to pull into a three-way tie, and then another 10 hands transpired before Oppenheim fell in third place ($603,348). The Grinder scored that knockout so thanks to Oppenheim’s chips and his aggressive play during prolonged three-handed action he held 10,635,000 heading into heads-up play, while Schmelev held 6,765,000.

Schmelev scored the first blow when he won the blinds and antes along with 1.89 million of the Grinder’s chips with 8Spade Suit 6Club Suit in the hole on a QDiamond Suit 9Heart Suit 3Spade Suit QClub Suit 6Diamond Suit board when the Grinder mucked. The Russian wild card continued to roll and he held a 3-1 chip advantage at the first break in the action during the final match.

After the break the Grinder made his stand, moving all in with AClub Suit 7Club Suit preflop after a series of bets and raises. Schmelev made the call with ADiamond Suit JDiamond Suit and it looked like things were over. The KClub Suit 10Diamond Suit 9Club Suit on the flop opened the door and the anticipation was thick in the air when the QHeart Suit was followed by the 5Club Suit on the river. The overwhelming pro-Grinder section erupted into cheers as he doubled up to survive and drew even in chips with Schmelev.

The Grinder Wins!The two finalists hunkered back down and the Grinder once again assumed the role of the aggressor and grew his chip stack to 14 million. Schmelev was far behind with 3.4 million, and at one point his stack dwindled to a paltry 575,000. The Grinder kept the pressure on until Schmelev decided to make an all-in call preflop with Q-8. The Grinder flipped over Q-5. He was dominated in a key hand again but his supporters rose to their feet and cheered as if their will could affect the outcome.

The flop missed both players, but a 5 fell on the turn and it was enough to win the Grinder his first gold bracelet. He was mobbed by family and friends and the celebration rang out through the otherwise empty Amazon Room. After the initial elation the Grinder congratulated the runner-up Schmelev, who took home $963,375 in prize money after a strong breakout performance. Mizrachi was awarded the top prize of $1,559,043, and the 2006 Card Player player of the year ran his career earnings up to $8,758,298. He also won something that no one can ever take away from him, a spot on the Chip Reese memorial trophy.

Final-Table Results:

1: Michael Mizrachi — $1,559,043
2. Vladimir Schmelev — $963,375
3. David Oppenheim — $603,348
4. John Juanda — $436,865
5. Robert Mizrachi — $341,430
6. David Baker — $272,275
7. Daniel Alaei — $221,105
8. Mikael Thuritz — $182,463

Here are each of the elimination hands from the final table as featured on’s live updates:

ThuritzMikael Thuritz Out in Eighth Place ($182,463)

David Baker raised preflop to 140,000 and a short-stacked Mikael Thuritz threw in his last 55,00, while Michael Mizrachi called from the big blind.

On a flop of 6Diamond Suit 6Spade Suit 4Heart Suit Mizrachi checked to Baker, who fired 180,000, only to have Mizrachi check-raise to 400,000. Baker folded and Thuritz saw the bad news. His QDiamond Suit JDiamond Suit was hugely behind Mizrachi’s 6Club Suit 4Diamond Suit.

The 8Spade Suit turn and ADiamond Suit river was all she wrote, and Mizrachi eliminated Thuritz in eighth place.

Daniel AlaeiDaniel Alaei Out in Seventh Place ($221,105)

Daniel Alaei got his last 410,000 in the middle and was called by Vladimir Schmelev. Alaei showed AHeart Suit 6Heart Suit and he was trailing Schmelev’s ADiamond Suit KClub Suit.

The board ran AClub Suit 8Diamond Suit 3Club Suit QHeart Suit 4Spade Suit and Alaei was eliminated in seventh place.

David Baker Bounced In Sixth Place (272,275)

Facing Michael Mizrachi’s raise to 145,000, David Baker moved all in from the small blind and the Grinder called.

Mizrachi’s AClub Suit KHeart Suit was ahead of Baker’s AHeart Suit JSpade Suit, and the board of KDiamond Suit 10Diamond Suit 8Diamond Suit 6Heart Suit 4Spade Suit didn’t improve Baker’s hand, sending him to the rail in sixth place while the “Grinder!” chants erupted from his cheering section.

Robert MizrachiCain & Abel: Michael Mizrachi Knocks Out Brother Robert in Fifth Place ($341,429)

Michael Mizrachi raised to 200,000 and brother Robert moved all in for 465,000. Michael made the call and they showed down their hands:

Robert: AClub Suit 10Heart Suit
Grinder: QHeart Suit JClub Suit

Robert was still a favorite after the 8Spade Suit 3Club Suit 2Heart Suit but the JHeart Suit on the turn gave the Grinder a pair, and he hung on through the 2Club Suit to eliminate his brother in fifth place.

John Juanda Out in Fourth Place ($436,856)

John Juanda moved all in for his last 1.3 million and Vladimir Schmelev called.
Juanda had KDiamond Suit 9Diamond Suit, holding one over-card to Schmelev’s 10Heart Suit 10Diamond Suit.

The flop came ADiamond Suit AHeart Suit 4Heart Suit. The 3Club Suit on the turn and QClub Suit on the river didn’t improve Juanda’s hand and he was bounced in fifth place. Schmelev had around 5 million after the hand.

David OppenheimGrinder Busts David Oppenheim in Third Place ($603,348)

Vladimir Schmelev raised to 225,000 from the button, only to have Michael Mizrachi reraise to 600,000 from the small blind. David Oppenheim reraised all in for 2.7 million and Schmelev got out of the way. The Grinder tanked, eventually calling him down.

Mizrachi showed KClub Suit QSpade Suit and was in a classic coin flip against the 8Club Suit 8Diamond Suit of Schmelev. The flop was no help to Mizrachi, coming 9Diamond Suit 6Spade Suit 4Spade Suit. Neither was the 7Club Suit on the turn. But when the QDiamond Suit hit on the river, the Grinder fan club went wild. Grinder connected for a pair of queens to send Oppenheim to the rail in third place.

Mizrachi held 10.9 million in chips — a solid chip lead over heads up opponent Schmelev.

Vladimir SchmelevMichael Mizrachi Wins the Players Championship ($1,559,046) and earns First Bracelet…Vladimir Schmelev Out in Second Place ($963,375)

Michael Mizrachi moved all in and Vladimir Schmelev couldn’t afford to fold. He called and had to be pleased to see he was a big favorite, with his QDiamond Suit 8Spade Suit out-kicking Mizrachi’s QSpade Suit 5Club Suit.

The flop left several outs for Grinder, coming 9Heart Suit 6Heart Suit 4Club Suit. The Grinder-heavy rail chanted for a “Five!” and sure enough, that’s exactly what they got. The 5Heart Suit hit on the turn and the place went wild. The Grinder pumped his fists but then he realized the hand wasn’t over and motioned to the rail to calm down.

When the 4Diamond Suit hit on the river, it was official: Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi was the winner of this year’s Players Championship, and finally became an owner of a WSOP bracelet, taking home $1,559,046.

The Russian, Schmelev finished the Players Championship with a strong second place, earning $963,375 along the way.



almost 11 years ago

bmpek, you are still talking trash about him? You've probably worked your whole life and have not made 1.5 million dollars. He has some tax problems, so what? You wish you earned enough money to have tax issues. What have you accomplished in life? You obv are a poker fan, what have you accomplished in poker? Let me guess, the liberals are conspiring against you to make you lose? Or is it that all the immigrants are taking your place at final tables? You are better than the grinder, better than Daniel, we must have all heard of you. Please reveal yourself. Your hateful comments are so enlightening. I would love to know where such groundbreaking thought comes from.


almost 11 years ago

As usual, BMPEK is "spot-on". Mike has been in the news lately for having tax issues and this money should go a long way in righting a wrong. Doyle said it best, "You will never be able to accumulate wealth in poker if you don't pay your taxes.". WTG Grinder, you definately deserve to have your name on the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy. Well done sir! "just sayin".


almost 11 years ago

Great article, Im glad the grinder took this one down.