Top 2010 Poker Player Stories – #5 Sorel Mizzi
2010 was a tale of two stories for Sorel Mizzi. The first story comes from his play in the live tournament circuit, where if there was an award for “player of the half-year,” Mizzi won it in a landslide. It’s hard to quantify exactly how good Mizzi’s first five months of the year were, other than to say that it was so good that he had the Bluff Magazine Player of the Year honor virtually locked up by the time that the calendar got to May. Let’s take a look at the results from the first 5 months of the year:
January – Mizzi finished 5th in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $5k Heads-up event, and 13th in the $5k prelim. Then 3rd in the Aussie Millions Main event.
February – 2 final tables at the L.A. Poker Classic (a 2nd and 6th place finish) and 2 more at the Wynn Classic (a 6th place finish and a win in the $2k event)
March – Mizzi won TWO events at the EPT Snowfest at Hinterglemm.
April – Mizzi wins the $7,200 Buy in Main Event East Coast Championship at Borgata, and min-cashes at the NAPT Mohegan Sun Main Event.
May – A runner up at the WPT Rendez-Vous á Paris in France at the £25,000 Buy-in High Roller Event.
All told, the first 5 months of the year accounted for 10 final tables, with 4 of them resulting in Mizzi winning the tournament. The sum total of his cashes was nearly $1.5 million by May, eclipsing his best live year by almost 3 times, and the year was still only half over. So it was not without surprise that Mizzi headed into the World Series of Poker with a lot of attention focused on him. Mizzi cashed 3 times at the 2010 WSOP, including 1 final table (a 6th place finish in the $1,500 Seven Card Stud event), but walked away from Vegas mostly disappointed as he didn’t see the results over the summer series that he’d seen in the recent months. Mizzi left Las Vegas and flew to Tallinn where he’d find another final table at a big buy-in event, finishing runner up at the EPT £10,000 Buy-in High Roller event, and then he’d find himself mired in an online poker controversy yet again in his career.
In October of 2007, Mizzi purchased Chris Vaughn’s seat in the Full Tilt Poker Million Dollar Guarantee late in the tournament. With 26 players remaining, Vaughn logged off, and Mizzi logged in as Vaughn and went on to win the event. Subsequently both accounts were frozen and both players were banned in addition to the winnings (more than $200k) seized by the site. Mizzi was again met with online controversy in 2008 when PokerStars banned Mizzi for 3 months after he let his friend play the early stages of a WCOOP tournament, and then took over when he returned home.
But then in late August this year, “waxonchris” posted for the very first and only time on TwoPlusTwo, and detailed an alleged MSN conversation between Mizzi and Steve “Thorladen” Weinstein. The conversation was a detailed discussion that outlined the plans of a multi-accounting scheme to have several players collaborate in playing the Full Tilt Online Poker Series (“FTOPS”). By the use of “GoToMyPC.com”, the intent was to “Ghost” several players that were backed by the duo, and to take over the accounts as they ran through the middle and late stages of a tournament, actions which are a direct violation of online poker’s user agreement and was an attempt to cheat the system. Mizzi responded to the thread claiming that the posted conversation in question “contains bits and pieces of information from several conversations I’ve had with Thorladen and others over the course of about a year.” Mizzi goes further into detail stating that he was contacted by an individual who threatened blackmailing Mizzi should he not send him money online. With Mizzi ignoring the threats, the individual took to TwoPlusTwo with this post. According to Mizzi, the conversation was altered by the extortionist and that neither he nor the parties detailed in the conversation were involved in any shady activity. To fully address the situation, Mizzi went onto TwoPlusTwo again to explain what he had done, and why he had thought that what he was doing was ethical. He admitted his wrongs, as well as admitted to opening up several accounts on the sites so that he could play during his ban. The full post can be found in this 2+2 Thread.
After coming clean on the online poker forums, Mizzi headed to Cannes where he min-cashed at the Partouche Poker Tour, before heading to London where he’d final table the £10,000 High Roller event at the EPT London, finishing in 5th place. He’d close out the year flying back to the U.S. where he final tabled the WPT 2010 World Poker Finals finishing in 7th, and missing the T.V. final table by 1 spot. And then there were 2 more final tables at the L.A. Poker Open, including another win in the $1,585 No Limit Hold’em Bounty event. The year closed out with three more final tables, a 6th place at the $1,000 Prelim WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Classic, and a 9th place at the $10,000 Main Event. And finally a 7th place finish in December’s EPT in Prague. When the year was through, Mizzi had booked almost $1.9 million in earnings and officially booked the title of Bluff Magazine Player of the Year honors.
But I think that Sorel Mizzi’s 2010 will be remembered as much for his successes at live tournaments as it will for the incidents of years past coming to a head. Many people will have a difficult time accepting Mizzi as anything other than a cheat. But I think that Barry Greenstein put it best saying that “Sorel is not inherently dishonest, but misguided. The place where he’s off is with issues with empathy. He didn’t account for how his actions would affect other people.”
I’d personally like to see Sorel sit down with a reporter and a camera, and document the experiences of the controversy surrounding online poker. I think it could be a potentially landmark news piece that could reveal so much about the game of online poker. I’d like to see him issue a public apology for the behavior of the past, instead of offering the explanation of “it was just common practice then.” While I think that it’s true that this was more common place than the sites would like to admit to, the people that were impacted by it certainly deserve the apology. But I also want to see him play poker, because when he does, he makes for a really great story.