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January 29: He Could’ve Been a Doctor

January 29, 2014
b8767a6ceMichael Mizrachi, who dropped out of college and gave up his hope of becoming a doctor to become one of the world’s leading professional poker players, won a first prize of $1,173,373 in a World Poker “No Limit Hold ‘Em” Tournament on this date in 2006. Mizrachi, born in 1981, has won two World Poker Titles, three World Series of Poker bracelets, and more than $14 million, which ranks him eighth on the all-time American poker earnings list. He is nicknamed “The Grinder” because of his steady, unflagging style of play. Mizrachi learned the game from his older brother Robert, also a professional gambler, and has a twin, Eric, who plays the game, as well as another brother who is a card player and professional magician. Their father is an Iraqi Jew. Other leading Jewish poker players include Barry Shulman, Lyle Berman, Mike Musatow, Gabe Kaplan, Erik Seidel (the #1 all-time earner), Barry Greenstein (known as the “Robin Hood” of poker because he has always donated all of his winnings to charity), and Annie Duke (Lederer), who not only plays but also writes about the game and is the co-founder, with actor Don Cheadle, of Ante Up for Africa, which benefits charities based in Africa. “I’m a totally different person on and off the tables. Poker is business and I have no friends at the table. I mean, I’m polite enough, but I want to destroy you and I want you to hate me. Off the table, I’ll be your best friend. That’s just the way I am. It’s an image I like.” -Michael Mizrachi