seen him on a number of WPT episodes. He's cashed
in over 40 main tournaments in the past 2 years.
His name alone strikes fear into other players,
and he doesn't disappoint them with his relentless
aggressive style. Yet this "Grinder"
is a family man at the end of the day who relishes
his time away from poker.
Check Out All The Lizard Interviews
PL: So how did you get started in poker?
Mizrachi: I really started to get into poker
when I was fifteen, before that I'd play for baseball
cards but I started playing for money when I was
fifteen. My older brother Robert, he's two years
older than me (27), said we should go check out
some cruise ships and casinos to play a little
poker. I started playing 1 to 5 spread limit 7
card stud and started winning.
I started playing pretty much every day and my
passion for the game kept growing and growing
and it became my career.
PL: Speaking of your brother Robert, would you
say he has had the most influence on you poker
MIZRACHI: Definitely, I would say from the start
he has. Now Me, Robert, my twin brother Eric,
and even my younger brother Daniel all play poker.
We talk about hands and try to influence/teach
each other. How we should have played certain
hands etc… Now we talk about winning, how
much money we won.
My entire family plays poker - my mom plays every
day, and my parents are totally supportive of
me and my career choice. We're basically a family
of gamblers we all love playing cards.
PL: How much of your success do you attribute
to that solid home life? I've read that you travel
on a tour bus with your entire family, whereas
most other young pros are alone going from hotel
MIZRACHI: Actually I got rid of that tour bus
in August and bought a house in Vegas. We were
traveling to Vegas so much that I decided to buy
a house which is A LOT more comfortable. The bus
was just too small and the maintenance was a hassle.
I'm in Vegas now with my kids and we spend the
majority of the year here and the rest in Florida
(Michael's home state).
PL: Do you ever regret dropping out of college?
MIZRACHI: Not at all.
PL: What is the coolest thing you've done now
that you are a poker celebrity?
MIZRACHI: Last year I went to the Playboy Mansion
which was pretty cool, but I thought it would
be a lot better than it was. I've gotten to travel
to Costa Rica and Aruba . When you're a poker
celeb you get invited to all kinds of things and
treated like a star; you walk on the red carpet
and get asked for autographs. In the past, I never
thought people would be looking up to poker players.
It's amazing how fast it's all happened for me.
I've only been playing tournament poker a couple
years now. Casinos won't let you play if you're
under 21, so I had to play online poker and I
played a lot of cash private games from the time
I was 16 until now. I've been a winning player
every year for the past almost 10 years.
PL: How quick was your progression from low-limit
cash game player to where you are now?
MIZRACHI: For a long time I played $10/$20 limit
hold'em and a lot of seven card stud. Those are
probably my best games and I started moving up.
I've played all the way up to $2,000/$4,000 limit
hold'em. It took a lot of time and hard work;
in years it went pretty quickly but I played a
lot of hands.
PL: Do you prefer the cash games over the tournaments?
MIZRACHI: I love tournaments. The do-or-die of
the situation the sudden death of tournaments
is the greatest feeling. I can apply more pressure
because each player only has one chance and can't
go back into their pocket to keep playing. You
get to make more bluffs and pick your spots more.
When I sit down at the table people are so intimidated
by me and play so cautiously that I keep accumulating
chips. In the cash games, people can play less
scared since they can always reload if they make
a mistake. In a tournament, it's one mistake and
PL: So I guess you prefer “Freeze Out”
style tournaments over Rebuy tourneys?
MIZRACHI: I do prefer Freeze Outs but Rebuys
can be fun; it depends on how deep your pockets
are. In a rebuy tournament, you can just gamble
a lot in the first hour to build up a huge stack.
I just try not to go crazy rebuying - I like to
have enough money for about 5 to 10 bullets. If
you don't have a lot of money, I don't recommend
playing in rebuy tournaments. In freeze-outs,
you just have one lifeline. It's definitely the
best way to play a tournament.
PL: Playing on tour these days gets incredibly
expensive. Do you have any hedging or backing
arrangements to lessen the risk?
MIZRACHI: I currently have a backer and sometimes
I put people into tournaments - it goes both ways.
I'm offered deals quite often and I pretty much
wait and wait for the best possible deal. Right
now I'm in a great arrangement; it's nice to be
in good hands and not have to worry about anything
but playing my game at the table.
PL: Do you play much online anymore or is it
pretty much all brick and mortar casinos now?
MIZRACHI: I play online some these days but not
nearly as much as I used to. It's not as exciting
to me as it used to be; playing live is more fun.
Getting to read people's faces and picking up
tells versus online where the only things to watch
are betting patterns and how long the person takes
to bet. Live, you have to pay attention to everything
the other person is doing. Online cash games are
just basically playing your cards and pushing
PL: You're featured in the WPT poker video game.
Did they try and model the player's tendencies
MIZRACHI: Sort of, they asked me what type of
hands I play and they mapped the player based
on that. It's obviously not going to be exactly
like my style, but they try and get it as close
PL: Is it weird seeing your character in a WPT
MIZRACHI: Yeah it's a little strange. One time
I was driving to the store and a guy looked over
at me and said, “You're the guy.”
I said, “What do you mean? I'm the guy”.
He replied, “You're the big poker player”.
So I said, “Oh, you play poker”. “He's
like, ‘No, I played against you on Playstation'.”
PL: Speaking of the WPT, your first WPT final
table featured Chau Giang, Scotty Nguyen, Daniel
Negreanu…were you nervous at all playing
against those famous players?
MIZRACHI: No, not at all, I'm fearless at the
poker table. You can't play scared at the table.
I'm a gambler who likes to put constant pressure
on my opponents; hopefully, I can scare them.
Against pros like that, it's not easy because
they don't get scared at the table either - that's
their job and they play the game the way it's
supposed to be played.
PL: So what's the toughest final table you've
MIZRACHI: They're all pretty tough. Once, I had
four of my friends at the table with me. At this
year's Borgata Winter Open, it was Stu “The
Donator” Patterson, Erick Lindgren, John
D'Agostino, Armon Phillipe and some guy I didn't
know. That table was pretty tough. The one before
it had Gavin Smith and An Tran. Those last two
final tables were very tough. I actually finished
2 nd and 1 st and was very happy with myself.
PL: Which tour's style do you prefer: the WSOP
or the WPT?
MIZRACHI: I like the WPT in the beginning, but
once you get to the final six it gets crazy and
it becomes a crapshoot, basically all luck. At
the World Series, I had the most cashes last year
but didn't make a final table. I did ok at the
Circuit Events, with one second place. Hopefully,
I'll win my first bracelet this year. The WSOP
final tables can take up to 10-12 hours so there
is more play than the WPT. The structure at the
end is a little better. However, you don't start
with as many chips as a WPT event. So basically
I like the beginnings of WPT tourneys but hate
the endings. Most pros are hoping the WPT will
change the structure.
PL: With the WSOP just a few months awa,y are
you taking it easy or are you still grinding away?
MIZRACHI: Right now I'm second in the Player
of the Year standings (behind Gavin Smith) and
am trying to play as many tournaments as possible…but
with two kids it's very tough. Since we're in
Vegas now, I don't take much time off from poker.
I took my son to Disney Land a few weeks ago and
he loved it! I consider the time I spend with
my kids at home my time off.
PL: What advice would you give a young player
thats would like to go pro?
MIZRACHI: I've never read a poker book before;
a lot of people would say go out and read books.
I say practice makes perfect, you just have to
get out and play a lot. Learning from your mistakes
is the key. Play with the good players and learn
from them - try and pick up their style. Play
in some small tournaments and try some new moves.
I'm still doing that and trying to learn and improve
my game all the time. They say that Hold'em takes
a lifetime to master, so play a lot online and
learn as much as you can.
PL: Speaking of online poker, did you hear about
those two players who had their accounts seized
for playing multiple entries in one tournament?
MIZRACHI: Yes, they decided to take their tournament
winnings away and divide it up between the other
players. I played multiple accounts in a tournament
before and I didn't even know it was against the
rules and they never said anything; but I don't
really think it's fair. It's pretty much a normal
thing and a lot of players do it; playing two
or three entries in a tournament, they're basically
trying to give themselves 2 or 3 chances to win
the tournament. As long as they're not at the
same table, it doesn't really matter. I tried
playing a few entries at once but didn't play
very well; I can concentrate a lot better with
just one. Now I just play the way they want with
PL: How often do you play online tourneys?
MIZRACHI: These days I rarely play online tournaments
- I just don't have the time. Once I was playing
an online tournament and had to head out to a
live tourney. I had someone take over for me and
told everyone at the table what was going on.
A rep from the site called me up and said I couldn't
have someone play for me. Some of the players
at the table complained, so I had to leave the
other tourney and come back to play online. I
was chip leader at the time and I guess they wanted
to play with me because I'm well- known.
PL: Why would someone want to play against you
when the replacement probably isn't as good a
Earn 35% Rakeback at AceFlush Poker!
MIZRACHI: They like to talk to me at the table
and see how their best stacks up against a known
player. These days, I goof around a lot online
and have fun. In the past it was more like work.
I think I need to start playing more seriously
though, because this may be my first losing year
online in 10 years.
Online poker may actually be hurting my game
overall, especially when I play online for an
extended period of time like 16 hours. These days
I try to limit online play to a couple hours at
a time and concentrate my energy on live games.
PL: You've had almost 40 decent-sized cashes
in the past two years; what about your style leads
to these consistent finishes?
MIZRACHI: My ability to switch gears quickly
after seeing a change at the table is really the
key to my style. I go from playing like a maniac
to slowing it down; I play very instinctually
and can control most of my opponents - basically
making the other players do what I want them to
do. I'll make speeches during hands or win with
rags; I'm very good at picking the right spot
to make a move. I just apply so much pressure
on my opponents and some of them get confused
and intimidated; especially the amateurs.
With my style I play a lot of hands, pick up
a lot of chips early, and try and make it hard
to read me. I'll play 5-6, 6-7, and see a lot
of flops. People will say, “How can you
play those hands?” Well it's not like I'm
calling off all my chips with these hands. I'm
seeing cheap flops and usually have the best of
it when I get my chips in. If I'm playing 5-6
and the flop comes 3-4-7 and the other guy moves
in with two Kings or two Queens , who made the
mistake? After a raise, re-raise and another re-raise,
they call and get caught with an overpair; they
know their hand probably isn't good but they show
it and say how good they play or how unlucky they
You can play any type of hand preflop as long
as you are careful with it; that's how professionals
play. There are a lot of players out there that
only know how to play Aces, Kings and Queens ,
and most the time they misplay them anyhow. You
have to gamble if you want to accumulate chips
and win tournaments. Once I get a lot of chips
I play like a monster and take control of the
PL: I noticed that you and your brother finished
one/two in the $1,000 Limit Hold'em event at the
Winning O' the Green Tournament…
MIZRACHI: Yeah, it was the first time they had
seen two brothers finish first and second in 33
years. I HAD to beat my brother or I would have
never heard the end of it. It's probably the last
time we'll ever be heads-up in a tournament and
I played him as hard as I could. It wasn't for
a whole lot of money and we decided to play it
at the last minute. It was a Limit tournament
which are generally so boring compared to No-Limit
ones, but I hit a lot of flops and he had the
most big pairs of anyone I'd ever seen. He was
beating me to death; every time I raised he'd
raise AND have a big hand! Once we got heads up
I started getting the cards and got back at him
for earlier. It was one of the most fun times
I've had in a tournament.
PL: Did any of the other players needle you guys
at the final table?
MIZRACHI: Yeah, there was one guy, John Bonnetti
- he was making a lot of jokes. He was like, “There's
no way I'm winning against two brothers”.
He was a real funny guy.
PL: Who do you think are the toughest players
on tour these days?
MIZRACHI: There are so many tough players, from
online guys coming up; some pros include Kenna
James, my friend Victor Ramdin just won the other
day at Foxwoods, Erick Lindgren, Phil Ivey. My
brother just placed second the other day, my friend
Dan Lee just won a tourney, there's just so many
good players now. Alan Goering, Dave Williams,
Gavin Smith, Barry Greenstein…
Right now the top 10 ranked players are all big
names. We haven't seen that in awhile. They play
the most tournaments and have huge bankrolls.
PL: I noticed you in the crowd on the Aruba WPT
broadcast, sweating Stacy Matuson…
MIZRACHI: Stacy is a great friend of mine from
Florida . We started in poker at pretty much the
same time. I was actually chip leader at that
tourney for awhile…lost two coin flips and
I was out.
PL: Obligatory Question: If you were Matt Damon
in the movie "Rounders", how long would
it take you to kick your girlfriend to the curb
and get with Famke Janssen?
MIZRACHI: Matt's girlfriend isn't even my type,
so I would definitely have gotten with the brunette,
she was much hotter. She would have been my move
right away if I was Matt Damon. I'm not into blondes.
PL: Shana Hiatt or Courtney Friel?
MIZRACHI: I am actually much closer with Courtney
Friel. Shana is a nice lady but I got along with
Courtney right away. She seems much friendlier
and is always saying Hi and coming to talk to
me. So I'd have to go with Courtney.
PL: Would you want your kids to grow up to be
MIZRACHI: If they're good at it, yes. But if
whatever career they choose makes them happy,
that's what makes me happy.
PL: What are you up to next?
MIZRACHI: I'm playing in the second season of
High Stakes Poker for the first time yesterday
and I did pretty well.
PL: Michael, thanks a lot and good luck in the
MIZRACHI: Thank you.
You can play against the Grinder on Absolute
Discuss this and other interviews in the Lizard Lounge
Check Out All The Lizard Interviews