Michael Mizrachi hoped that he would've earned his second WSOP bracelet last November. Mizrachi had high expectations, and the chip lead, with five players remaining at the 2010 WSOP main event final table, but he ultimately finished fifth, just short of winning poker's greatest prize. In Las Vegas this June, Mizrachi had another opportunity for bracelet No. 2 in WSOP Event 47, but finished as the runner-up in his only cash of the summer. Although it wasn't a bracelet, his $158,148 score saved him from having a disastrous WSOP.
After a career year in 2010, when he cashed in for more than $4 million, Mizrachi's 2011 offered him only that one bright spot on the tournament front. Fortunately for The Grinder, his struggles ended in Cannes, France. Mizrachi found his stride once again in Event 5 of the 2011 WSOP Europe, defeating one of the toughest fields in a newly formatted all-around event to win his second bracelet and $448,861.
"Everything was going my way and there was nothing anybody could do," said Mizrachi after his win. "It was my day."
The 10,400 euro buy-in "Mix-Max" event featured 125 players, and the format changed three times during the competition. Day 1 offered nine-handed play, Day 2 was six-handed, and starting on Day 3, with 16 players left, the field played heads-up for the duration. One of the more intriguing aspects of this format was that the players would keep their stacks going from six-handed to heads-up play and the opponents were randomly selected at that point, resulting in some challenging situations.
Mizrachi understood how the game's dynamics would change on each day and prepared for each variation.
"I strategized about it beforehand, and thought I applied a lot of pressure in different situations," he said. "I was trying to be very creative. I did some things that people usually don't see, including some really crazy stuff. I was doing it nine-handed, then six-handed, and then short-handed. I was trying a lot of different things."
Mizrachi entered the heads-up portion of play seventh out of 16, and after he doubled up with K-K to Kent Lundmark's 10-10 on the very first hand, he was off and running. He eliminated Lundmark and Brian Hastings to advance to the last day of play, when he faced Roger Hairabedian in his final four matchup.
Hairabedian, a member of the Partouche Poker Tour main event final table, has cashed 22 times in 2011 and had the chip lead heading into the final day of play. After more than two hours of back-and-forth action, Mizrachi and Hairabedian were involved in one decisive pot. Mizrachi raised preflop with 6-7 and Hairabedian called with 5-5. The flop came J-5-8, giving Mizrachi an open-ended straight draw that trailed Hairabedian's bottom set. Hairabedian bet nearly half the pot and Mizrachi called. The turn was a four, which completed Mizrachi's straight. Hairabedian bet, Mizrachi raised big and Hairabedian moved all-in. Mizrachi called, the river blanked and he moved on to the finals to face Shawn Buchanan with a 2.3 million to 1.3 million chip lead.
Buchanan, the Canadian poker pro who defeated Noah Schwartz in the other semifinal, had been on a run of finishing as runner-up in WSOP events, and he was unlucky once again, finishing second as his A-J lost to Mizrachi's A-10 on the final hand. Buchanan has $1.9 million in WSOP earnings through 26 cashes and three second-place finishes. Mizrachi had nothing but praise for his opponent, who was the only player to secure three cashes out of the first five events at this year's WSOPE.
"Shawn is an unbelievable poker player, very talented," said Mizrachi. "All the good players know and respect him. The public does not know him, but they will. I really think he's going to be one of the best players of all time."
The Florida pro now owns 13 WSOP final table appearances and was pleased with his latest run, but his hunger for bracelets isn't satiated just quite yet.
"I think I will definitely with double digits," Mizrachi said of how many bracelet he hopes to have during his career. "But I hope for 20. When I run good, nobody can beat me. And I play all the games pretty well. I might be sitting there with a cane and can barely walk, but I think I can get to 20."
Other players to make the money included Dan Fleyshman (T-fifth), Jason Mercier (T-ninth) and Erik Seidel (T-ninth).
Below are the complete results of WSOPE Event 5:
Event 5: Mix-Max no-limit hold 'em
Buy-in: 10,400 euros
Prize pool: 1,200,000 euros
Players in the money: 16
1. Michael Mizrachi (336,008 euros)
2. Shawn Buchanan (207,624)
3. Roger Hairabedian (112,092)
4. Noah Schwartz (112,092)
5. Dan Fleyshman (54,810)
5. Brian Powell (54,810)
5 .Anatolii Ozhenilok (54,810)
5. Brian Hastings (54,810)
9. Jason Mercier (26,618)
9. Dmitry Motorov (26,618)
9. Matt Waxman (26,618)
9. Erik Seidel (26,618)
9. Alexander Roumeliotis (26,618)
9. Joel Nordkvist (26,618)
9. Bryn Kenney (26,618)
9. Kent Lundmark (26,618)