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When I think about the World Poker Tour (WPT), a number of images pop into my head. I see the peacock-like Mike Sexton; Vince van Patten falling off his chair, beautiful women, Adam Pliska, helicopters and Michael ‘The Grinder’ Mizrachi.

As a two-time WPT champion, what does The Grinder think of their decision to overhaul the WPT Championship and create the WPT Tournament of Champions?

I caught up with him at WPT UK to find out, and this is what he had to say.

What was it like being raised in a household so full of testosterone?

“All brothers, no sisters, and a family where everyone played poker except for my father. He was a gambler, but more of a businessman. He loved Roulette. My mother always loved playing cards. She would go to her friends house to play, and I would stand in the front of her car because I wanted to go with her. She would take me, and I would watch her play games like Rummy. When I was 15 years old my mother, and Robert, started playing cards at a higher level. They would go on cruise ships, and I would follow them.

“My introduction into poker had a lot to do with my brother Robert. I started playing under age. I played in Indian casinos when I was younger. I was also playing in Vegas when I was 18. It’s in the blood. Robert used to have slot machines in the house. My Dad had a roulette wheel, and he would play these things in the middle of the night. One night I hit the jackpot on one of Robert’s machines, and as all the quarters were raining out, he pulled the plug.”

Did Robert use to give you a hard time?

“He would set booby traps around the house for me. As he was the eldest, it was us versus him, but I was always the strongest. I was the tough one out of the four guys.”

What is your opinion of the World Poker Tour Tournament of Champions?

“I was never a fan of invitationals. Everyone should get the opportunity to play. Poker is in decline. Tournaments are missing guarantees. We are missing them here {DTD} and at the Seminole in Florida. Getting a big field with invites only will be tough. Players are always looking for value so why play against the best? They are looking to play against inexperienced players so they can take advantage of them. I wouldn’t play it. It’s an ego thing. You only play those things if you want to prove you are the best, and that’s fine, but I would prefer it was open to the public.”

You play a lot of hands, talk about that.

“It depends on my table. On the bubble, I played every hand. I picked up 200k on the bubble. I feel I can play any hand from any position against anyone. I know how to play hands, and I know how to get away from hands. You can play 89, 78, JT, QJ and hit top pair, but you have to know how to fold it also.”

What brings you the most worry in the world?

“The thing that hurts me the most is missing my family and kids. Being away from them is tough. It’s hard being a poker player and traveling when you have a family. I try not to travel as much as I used to. This is my second event since the series.”

Riding down the Vegas strip Hot🔥☀️☀️☀️. @ericmizrachi #mykids #brother #topdown #vegas #hot

A photo posted by Michael Mizrachi (@thegrinder44) on

How old are your children?

“My kids are 11, 9 and 7.”

What has been the most challenging part of being a father?

“In the early stage it has to be diapers. Seriously, you have to give them love; care for them and be there for them. Helping them with their homework is the hardest. You forget how to be as smart as a sixth grader. Sometimes you just have to Google it.”

Do you worry about raising your children in the world today?

“Of course, there are a lot of things going on, and it’s scary. The plane that just blew up in Egypt, for example, very sad. You get nervous when you have kids. Anything can happen. You never know when your time is up, and that’s the scary part. If they want to play poker, then I will be happy for them but the only one interested is the youngest one, Joseph. He is into his money and watches me play. Paul is more into computers and video games.”

Children turn out to be like their parents. What qualities will you be happy to pass on to them?

“I am respectful and so are my kids. They don’t curse, and I appreciate that. Their mother and I have very different personalities. We separated, and we are two very different people. We live a mile apart. It’s tough being a single parent for anyone.”

What bad qualities make you cringe knowing you will pass them down?

“When I was a kid I was always good. Robert was the bad kid. Julie was always pulling her hair out as a kid. Paul was always great but as he gets a little older, he sometimes talks back a little bit. I think, ‘are you serious?’ Sometimes Julie doesn’t want to wake up for school. That feels familiar. They are all very smart, but they can’t get their heads out of the computers. It wasn’t like that when I was younger. I was always out playing football.”

If you could spend 10,000 hours mastering anything in the world what would it be and why?

“I would like to learn to be the best father in the world.”

Give my teenage son some advice.

“Stay in school. Keep his head in the books. You would love your kids to go to college. I dropped out because it conflicted with poker, but my advice would be to stay in school.”

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Lee Davy

Life can be viewed as the sum of the parts or the parts themselves. I believe in the holistic view of life, or the sum. When dealing with individual parts you develop whack-a-mole syndrome; each time you clobber one problem with your hammer another one just pops up.