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Michael 'The Grinder' Mizrachi

By Paul McGuire

Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi not only has a catchy nickname, but he’s also proving to everyone in the poker world that he’s one of the rising stars in poker and not a flash in the pan. 2005 will go down in history as the “Year of The Grinder.” He won almost $3 million in prize money playing in various tournaments on both the World Poker Tour and at the World Series of Poker. And only a few weeks into the 2006 calendar year, The Grinder has already picked up another major tournament victory and is on his way towards his goal of winning the coveted World Poker Tour’s Player of the Year award.

Michael Mizrachi
Michael Mizrachi - Source: Las Vegas & Poker

Michael Mizrachi was born in Miami, Florida in 1981. His tight-knit family grew up in North Miami Beach and he later settled in Hollywood, FL. The Grinder has a fraternal twin brother named Eric. He also has two other brothers and the oldest, Robert, is also a professional poker player. All four boys played cards and sports together and that’s where The Grinder first developed his competitive edge. Although he wanted to study medicine and become a doctor, The Grinder eventually dropped out of college to play poker full time. The Grinder had been in the poker industry as a dealer in one of the many low-limit poker rooms that popped up in Florida after politicians amended their gambling legislation to allow poker to be spread, but only with a maximum bet of $2. Because there were no legal high stakes cash games in Florida, Robert Mizrachi had been playing a lot online. He encouraged his younger brother to give it a shot. The Grinder started out playing at the $5/$10 Hold’em tables and eventually graduated to some of the highest stakes cash games online at Poker Stars. For a while he was a regular at the $100/$200 tables and still frequently plays online today.

Logging the majority of his poker experience online allowed The Grinder to play four times as many hands than in live play. He improved his poker game while learning to adapt to the different styles of play, especially against hyper-aggressive internet players. That’s an edge that he takes to the tables on the major tournament circuit. The Grinder is confident in his ability to quickly adjust to diverse playing styles. In fact, he’s also become adept at disguising his own play. One minute he’s playing like a rock and the next he’s playing junk hands. The Grinder has slowly developed the reputation that he’s one guy you don’t want to see at your table. He’s impossible to put on a hand and could be playing any two cards at any time.

The Grinder generally plays an aggressive style which means that he’s probably going to bust out early or be one of the chipleaders. The more chips The Grinder gets, the more powerful of a player he becomes. He’s one of the best big stack players around. He knows how to use a big stack as a powerful weapon, especially as the money approaches the bubble when most players tighten up their play.

The Grinder first hit the tournament trail in early 2004. He made the final table of a $500 NL tournament at Foxwoods and never looked back. He cashed in his first World Series of Poker event and missed the final table by two spots. During the WSOP, he managed to win one of the weekly tournaments at the Bellagio which always featured several random pros. That was his first major tournament victory and he won $21,000. With a bubbling streak of confidence, The Grinder made several final tables in various California State Championship events. At the end of the year, he won another weekly tournament at the Bellagio and took down over $270,000. In his first year as a pro playing in major events, The Grinder won over $350,000.

Without a doubt, 2005 was the break out year for The Grinder. He quickly became a household name when he made a final table on the World Poker Tour at Tunica, MS. That final table featured top-notched pros such as Scotty Nguyen, Chau Giang, and Daniel Negreanu. The next month, The Grinder won the L.A. Poker Classic at Commerce Casino in Los Angeles after he beat out Haralabos Voulgaris heads up to win. His final table was not an easy one and he had to outlast Erick Lindgren, Hung La, Ted Forrest, and Harley Hall. The Grinder won close to $1.9 Million for his first WPT title and he also raised several eyebrows after his consecutive TV final table appearances. At the WPT Championships, he finished in an impressive 11th place. Also in 2005, he won a heads-up event at the Mirage when he took down Scotty Nguyen.

The Grinder showed up at the 2005 WSOP at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas playing the best poker of his life. When it was over, he cashed seven times which tied him for most cashes at the 2005 WSOP. Although he did not make any final tables, he managed to cash in different events. The Grinder is not just a masterful NL Hold’em player. He’s an excellent all-around poker player that has cashed in Pot Limit Omaha, Pot Limit Hold’em, and Omaha Hi/Lo events. He even took 230th place out of over 5,600 other entrants in the $10,000 Main Event. He closed out his amazing 2005 by winning two more weekly tournaments at the Bellagio.

In 2006, The Grinder started off the year on a hot streak. He took second place in Tunica and lost a heads up match to Scotty Nguyen. He was ahead with A-Q to Nguyen’s A-J, but Nguyen caught a lucky flop to send The Grinder home in second place. The very next week, The Grinder made the final table at the Borgata Winter Poker Classic in Atlantic City. He came from behind to win, while taking home over $1.1 million for first place. The Borgata was his fourth WPT final table and his second WPT title. It was a special victory for him because it came on the eve of the birth of his daughter.

With almost $5 million in career tournament earnings, The Grinder has jumped to the top of Money Lists everywhere. He’s currently third on the WPT’s all time money list and ranks in the Top 15 of all time money winners in the history of tournament poker. That’s impressive for someone who just turned 25 years old. Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi currently lives in Hollywood, Florida with his wife Aidilay, who recently appeared on an episode of the WPT’s Ladies Night. They have two small children.

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