Mazrachi, Bloch lead at the final table of the $50,000 buy-in Players Championship


 “The Grinder” will attempt to become the first poker player to win the World Series of Poker’s second most-coveted title twice while another player seeks to erase a six-year-old nightmare.

The final eight competitors will play for the $1.45 million first prize in the $50,000 buy-in Players Championship beginning at 2 p.m. today at the Rio on the ESPN feature table inside the Amazon Room.

Michael Mizrachi of Miami, known to the poker world as “The Grinder,” is the leader heading into the event’s final day with 3,648,000 in tournament chips.

Mizrachi won the same event in 2010, collecting almost $1.6 million when he topped a field of 116 players. That same year, Mizrachi reached the final table of the World Series of Poker’s Main Event, the $10,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em World Championship, finishing fifth and earning $2.3 million.

This year’s Players Championship drew 108 competitors. The event requires participants to play a rotation of eight poker variations — Limit Hold’em; Omaha Hi-Low Split 8 or better; Seven Card Razz; Seven Card Stud; Steve Card Stud Hi-Low Split 8 or Better; No Limit Hold’em; Pot Limit Omaha; and 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball

In addition to the prize money, the winner collects a gold bracelet and earns his name on the Chip Reese Trophy.

Las Vegas-based poker professional Andy Bloch is second behind Mizrachi going into play Thursday with 3,598,000 in chips. Bloch won his first career World Series of Poker individual event championship bracelet earlier this month after an 18-year quest.

Bloch’s most famous final table at the World Series of Poker took place in 2006, when he finished runner-up to the late David “Chip” Reese in the inaugural Poker Players Championship.

Bloch and Reese played heads-up for more than seven hours — the longest heads-up match in tournament history, which was nationally televised on ESPN. He earned more than $1 million for second place.

Chris Klodnicki of Philadelphia is in third place behind Mizrachi and Bloch with 3,276,000 in chips.

According to PokerNews.com, Mizrachi is sitting in better position at the final table than he was when he won the event in 2010, and “seems to be playing his best poker. (Mizrachi is) running well, and anyone who knows poker knows that is a very lethal combination.”