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JUNE 1, 2010 - 2:11:30 AM PST

O' Brother, Where Art Thou?


by: Nolan Dalla

O' Brother, Where Art Thou?

The $50,000 buy-in Poker Players Championship played down to eight finalists late Monday night.  The chip leader entering the final table is former WSOP gold bracelet winner Robert Mizrachi, from Miramar, FL.  He won the $10,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha Championship in 2007.  The finale will be played starting on Tuesday afternoon.

When players take the ESPN Main Stage most of the attention will undoubtedly focus on mega-stacked Mizrachi and his younger brother Michael "the Grinder" Mizrachi, who made it to the final table of a WSOP event together for the first time. 

Robert, age 31, is nearly three years older than his brother Michael.  Both players are well-respected and highly-accomplished poker pros who have been playing on the tournament circuit for several years.  For the Mizrachi family, this is certainly a fairy-tale, with a potential storybook finish. 
 
In the 41-year history of the WSOP, siblings have only made it to a final table together on two previous occasions.  In 1995, Annie Duke finished sixth in the Pot-Limit Hold'em championship.  Brother Howard Lederer finished in ninth place in that same event.  Seven years later in 2002, Ross Boatman and Barney Boatman finished seventh and ninth respectively in the Pot-Limit Omaha event.

Currently in second place is David Baker, a 25-year-old poker pro from Rochester Hills, MI.  This marks Baker's fifth time to cash in a WSOP event.  His best previous showing was a 15th-place finish in last year's $40,000 buy-in 40th Anniversary Championship.  He has accumulated in excess of $500,000 winnings overall in poker tournaments.  This marks his first time in the WSOP spotlight.

This final table includes an interesting mix of nationalities and different playing styles.  There will be six Americans, one Swede, and one Russian.  The eight finalists and their current chip counts are as follows:

Seat 1:  David Baker (Rochester Hills, MI) -- 3,095,000
Seat 2:  Mikael Thuritz (Stockholm, Sweden) -- 2,300,000
Seat 3:  Vladimir Schmelev (St. Petersburg, Russia) -- 1,925,000
Seat 4:  John Juanda (Las Vegas, NV) -- 2,620,000
Seat 5:  Daniel Alaei (Los Angeles, CA) -- 1,705,000
Seat 6:  Michael Mizrachi (Miramar, FL) -- 2,175,000
Seat 7:  David Oppenheim (Los Angeles, CA) -- 460,000
Seat 8:  Robert Mizrachi (Miramar, FL) -- 3,125,000

Final table action can followed at the official WSOP website, at the following link:

http://www.wsop.com/tournaments/updates.asp?rr=5&grid=764&tid=10823&dayof=1362
 
The inaugural Poker Players Championship is the successor to the $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. World Championship, which began in 2006.  That first tournament was won by poker legend David "Chip" Reese.  Following his death, the tournament was played in his honor.  The official "Chip Reese Memorial Trophy," presented to the winner, is inscribed with each champion's name.

Eight different games are played in the Poker Players Championship, making it the ultimate test of all-around poker skill.  The games played in rotation are:  Triple-Draw Deuce-to-Seven Lowball, Limit Hold'em, Omaha High-Low Split/Eight-or-Better, Razz, Seven-Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Split/Eight-or-Better, Pot-Limit Omaha, and No-Limit Hold'em.

This year's tournament began with 116 entries, up from last year's number which attracted 95 participants. Among them were 54 former WSOP gold bracelet winners.  Eight different nations were also represented, including the United States, Russia, Canada, Italy, Sweden, Germany, Lithuania, and the Netherlands.  The prize pool this year exploded by more than $1 million over last year's figure.  The top 16 tournament finishers will split up $5,568,000 in prize money.  The winner receives $1,559,046, the coveted gold bracelet encrusted with diamonds, plus poker immortality.

The defending champion was David Bach, who was eliminated on the second of five playing days.  Other former champions Freddy Deeb (2007) and Scotty Nguyen (2008) also failed to make the money.  However, among those who did cash were former WSOP gold bracelet winners Abe Mosseri who finished 11th and Lyle Berman who finished 12th.  The unfortunate "bubble" finisher was former gold bracelet winner Kirk Morrison, who was stung by ending up one spot away from a $98,330 payout (for 16th place).  

All players who survived to this point are guaranteed at least $182,463.  ESPN will film the final table for broadcast on July 27th, from 5-7 pm PST.

Final table play begins Tuesday at 3 pm PST and will be played on the ESPN main stage, which is located inside the Amazon Room at the Rio.  Seating is open to spectators over the age of 21.

        
Full chip counts, photos and event updates can be found on the official 2010 WSOP tournament reporting section.
 
Follow the WSOP on Twitter at www.twitter.com/wsop for around the clock updates on the day's events. Get up-to-the minute info on WSOP cash game and satellite action at twitter.com/wsopliveaction
                                    

 
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