Borgata Winter Poker Open

Michael Mizrachi wins the Borgata Winter Poker Open

2006, Jason Kirk  

Just before midnight on Day Three of the tournament, the lineup for the final TV table of the Borgata Winter Open was finally set with the elimination of online qualifier Peter Feldman. Once Feldman's aces were cracked by Josh Spiegelman's A-K the identities of the final table participants were finally revealed. Three well-known pros, one tournament regular, an online player, and a local player survived the first three days of the tournament to play out the endgame. The 6th place finisher would earn a fine payday of over $100,000, but there was plenty of incentive to win with more than $1 million more going to the champion - not to mention a brand-new Cadillac Escalade and a seat in the $25,000 WPT Championship in April.

Final Table Lineup (by seat)

Amnon Filippi   --------------------- 820,000
Stuart Patterson ------------------ 1,060,000
Erick Lindgren --------------------- 2,635,000
Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi -- 2,040,000
John D'Agostino -------------------1,340,000
Josh Spiegelman ------------------ 1,635,000

The early going of the third WPT final table of 2006 was full of tentative play. The typical hand went something like raise, re-raise, fold, scoop pot. Many of those re-raises were big ones thrown out by initial chip leader Erick Lindgren. He put his opponents to the test with regularity, especially when in position, as he looked to solidify his lead. Stuart "The Donator" Paterson also got in on the act, making his presence known by taking down a pot from Josh Spiegelman by making a big pre-flop re-raise.

There were two big changes in the game before the first level was finished. First, Josh Spiegelman took down a $1.2 million pot from Lindgren when his A-9 hit a bigger two pair than Lindgren's Q-6. That stripped Lindgren of most of what he took from the others by pure aggression throughout the first level, leaving him with a gain of only about $200,000 when the second level started. The other big shift came when John D'Agostino doubled through Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi. The hand began with Mizrachi uncharacteristically limping from middle position and then calling D'Agostino's late position raise to $130,000. On a flop of A-Q-7 with two hearts, Mizrachi check-raised all-in and put D'Agostino to the test. The local favorite ended up making the right call, turning over K-K. He had to dodge another heart to hold up against Mizrachi's 4-2 of hearts, but after the river had been dealt D'Agostino was suddenly 3rd in chips.

When the day's second level began, Stuart Paterson made a quick exit. He came over the top of a pre-flop raise by Mizrachi, who had Paterson's A-T dominated with A-K. The flop came K-7-6, all spades, giving Mizrachi top pair with the nut flush draw. When Paterson got no help, he took home $110,871 for 6th place. Halfway through the level, Erick Lindgren took a commanding lead when he dragged a $1 million heads-up pot against John D'Agostino with an all-in move on the flop, but the next half hour dragged by as the table mostly played tentative poker. The day's third level finally brought another elimination when D'Agostino's J-8 of spades outflopped Josh Spiegelman's K-Q. Spiegelman took home $147,828 for his 5th place finish.

With the first two players gone, things quickly heated up. The Grinder put himself on the edge of elimination when he ran his 9-9 into D'Agostino's Q-Q. D'Agostino flopped a set and turned four of a kind to knock Mizrachi back into 3rd place, a warning to Mizrachi straight from the desk of the poker gods. He quickly turned his ship around, and in the process changed the course of the tournament. First, he moved all-in before the flop on a coin flip with 4-4 against Erick Lindgren's A-Q. Lindgren paired on the flop, leaving Mizrachi with only two outs, but the river brought the Grinder a miracle 4 and put him over $3 million.

Amnon Filippi, who'd had little opportunity to get involved through much of the final table, finally picked a spot and moved his chips in before the flop with A-T. His timing was a little off - he ran into John D'Agostino's A-K and took home $184,785 for 4th place. The next big shift at the table wasn't far off - within 15 minutes, Erick Lindgren was on the verge of elimination. He moved over the top of a re-raise by Michael Mizrachi while holding the nut flush draw with one card to come, but Mizrachi already held the second nuts and took the bulk of Lindgren's stack when his hand held up. Within minutes, the crippled Lindgren exited the tournament in 3rd place with $282,721 - certainly a lesser result than he had hoped for coming into the day.

Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi and John D'Agostino entered heads-up play almost dead-even in chips, but that didn't last too long. Mizrachi took down a $2 million pot without a showdown early on, and then chipped away at D'Agostino until he was able to get all the money in the middle with two pair against D'Agostino's gutshot straight draw. D'Agostino played remarkable poker over the course of the last two days of play and his $591,312 2nd place prize. Mizrachi impressively improved on his World Poker Open finish from the previous week, taking home a hefty $1,173,373 for the win, as well as a new Cadillac Escalade and a seat at the WPT Championship.