Michael Mizrachi has been going through some tough times lately.  In May, the United States Internal Revenue Service filed a lien against Mizrachi for $339,711 and he had two properties go into foreclosure, both of which were sold at auction.  The problems did not appear to be completely his fault, as he was partially the victim of circumstance with bad luck on tournament swaps and the real estate crash, but he was put in a financial hole nonetheless.

All of that must have made Wednesday morning that much sweeter, as Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi won the $50,000 Player’s Championship at the 2010 World Series of Poker.  In addition to the coveted WSOP gold bracelet, he won the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy (the late winner of the first $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event at the WSOP, the tournament from which the Player’s Championship evolved), and $1,559,046.

It was a memorable final table, in large part because sitting just two seats away from him was the chip leader going into the day, Michael’s older brother, Robert.  Even though Robert was the only one of the two to lay claim to a WSOP bracelet prior to this week, Michael has been much better known to the poker community.  His numerous appearances on World Poker Tour (WPT) broadcasts as poker was gaining popularity, as well as his two WPT titles firmly entrenched him in the public eye.  But the WSOP bracelet eluded Michael, although he came close several times in 2008.  That year, he cashed five times at the WSOP, placing 3rd, 8th, 11th, 11th, and 15th.  While that all added up to a nice paycheck, none of those finishes came with a bracelet.

He finally achieved the feat Wednesday, though, outlasting seven final table competitors across 12 hours (counting breaks) and 235 hands.  The victory, while tremendous, must have tasted slightly bittersweet, as Michael eliminated his big brother in 5th place.  Michael opened the action on the hand with a raise to 200,000 with Q-J and after a David Oppenheim fold, Robert moved all-in for another 465,000 with A-T.  Michael called and the sibling rivalry was on.  Robert was still in the lead after an all-low flop, but a Jack hit on the turn, giving Michael the better hand.  The river was no help to either and Robert was sent packing.

After Vladimir Schmelev dispatched Full Tilt pro John Juanda in 4th place and Mizrachi knocked out Oppenheim in 3rd place, the heads-up duel was underway, with Mizrachi holding about a 1.5 to 1 chip lead over Schmelev.  Over the first 17 hands of the one-on-one match, Schmelev had his way, building up a substantial lead of close to 3-to-1.

Mizrachi kept “grinding,” staying patient, and waiting for his spot.  On the 37th hand of heads-up play, he found that spot, three-betting all-in pre-flop with A-7 of clubs.  Schmelev quickly called with A-J, so Mizrachi was in trouble.  It was a great flop for drama: Kc-9c-Td, giving Mizrachi a flush draw.  Two of his outs disappeared, though, as a Queen came on the turn, giving Schmelev a straight.  But the flush manifested with a 5c on the river, allowing Mizrachi to double-up and take a slight chip lead.

He didn’t look back from there, building an almost overwhelming chip lead within 30 hands.  Eventually, Schmelev had to just pick any two cards and hope for best.  On the final hand, Mizrachi pushed pre-flop with Q-5 and Schmelev called all-in with Q-8.  Once again, Mizrachi hit the card he needed, getting that 5 on the turn and taking down the tournament.

“This was definitely worth the wait,” he told ESPN’s Norman Chad afterward.  “It’s one of the most prestigious events you can possibly win…especially with my brother in there. I put his chips to good use.”

2010 World Series of Poker $50,000 Player’s Championship Final Table Results

1. Michael Mizrachi – $1,559,046
2. Vladimir Schmelev – $963,375
3. David Oppenheim – $603,348
4. John Juanda – $436,865
5. Robert Mizrachi – $341,429
6. David Baker – $272,275
7. Daniel Alaei – $221,105
8. Mikael Thuritz – $182,463

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