The Grinder: I’m a Machine!

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Michael34, an 18-year-old youngster named Michael34, was raking in the $5-10 Limit Holdem games on ParadisePoker about six years ago. He would play two tables at once, making a profit of more than $1,000 in a single day, which was impressive for a kid.
You won’t find Michael34, the youngster, at the tables any longer, but you won’t have to seek hard to discover the man he’s grown into. Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi is a force to be reckoned with— he calls himself a machine— and he’s claiming his place among the greatest. He’s won just about $300,000 twice in the last three months, first in a $2,000 buy-in NLHE tournament at Bellagio and fifth in a $10,000 buy-in WPT event in Tunica.
I saw Michael in Tunica about a week ago, shortly after he finished fifth, and I spoke with him on the phone a few days later. I was curious about how he had improved his game to the point that he could reach the final tables of the most prestigious tournaments.
“I always thought I was at that level, but it was just a matter of coming out,” she says, “He informed me. “I reside in Florida, so it’s difficult for me to get to competitions, but I’ve always believed I could compete with the greatest, and I believe I’m even better than most of the other players that win.” But, of course, he isn’t the only one who has these thoughts— I’ve had a lot of emails about how great of a player he is.
He told me that his most significant online win was around $30,000, which he had done a few times during our phone talk. Later that day, he won the $500k Guaranteed $500+30 buy-in on PokerStars, and after the money was split up according to a 5-way chop agreed upon by the players, The Grinder took home $89,020. Are you persuaded yet? I’m sure I am…
For 2005, the Grinder has even loftier goals: he wants to be Player of the Year. Like the rest of us, he has struggled with poor beats, but he feels he can overcome them and, if he can make it to enough tournaments, he can win the coveted trophy. However, because Michael is now the proud father of his first kid, Paul William Mizrachi, tournament poker may have to take a second seat this year. He puts his family first, and if that means missing some of the year’s most significant events to be with his wife and son in their Hollywood, FL home, he’ll gladly make the sacrifice.
So, what makes him so good? According to rumors, he’s one of the tightest players in the game, but he claims it all depends on the game. He explained, “I change and adapt to what’s going on in my game.” “They [those stating he is tight] just saw the hands I used at the Bellagio to get all my money in with. I almost always put all of my money in with the greatest of them.”
He relies on excellent assessments of his opponents’ hands and plays extremely aggressive poker, seldom letting an opponent draw for free. He can read tells as well as anyone, and he responds to them with confidence. I inquired as to how he adapts his playing style to online gaming. He argued that the only way to pick up tells online is to fill in notes or know people’s styles. “Sometimes it’s a smart idea to pay attention to when players use those auto-raise or check/fold buttons. I don’t keep a lot of notes since I nearly always play the same people, so I’m good at remembering how they all play.”
The Grinder claims that the only persons he avoids at the tables are his friends and have no fear. However, at PokerStars, where he generally plays, he has a lot of respect for a couple of his opponents. Exclusive (Noah Boeken) and TheBeat (Peter Giordano) are among the tournament’s most demanding players, while up-and-comer JohnnyBax impresses him as well.
He still plays on Paradise, albeit under a different name, and PartyPoker on a somewhat frequent basis. Though, his primary location is PokerStars, where he considers himself to be one of the top five all-time money winners. The $100/200 Limit Holdem and $5,000 sit-n-go’s are two of his favorite games there. His wife will occasionally play $30/60 on his account.
The last question I asked Mike was what advice he would give to all the young internet poker players that aim to be great, a category he fell into until recently. He said, “The more you play, the better you get.” “All I did was watch great players and see how they played. Track them down and watch them every day because that’s how you’ll learn and improve.”
The 24-year-old poker prodigy seemed to be giving some sound advice. Look for Mike if you want to see a fantastic player.
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