Photo provided by Betfair.com
The Perfect Childhood…
Sorel Mizzi was born on April 16th, 1985 in Toronto, Canada, where he grew up with his parents and two brothers. Even during his childhood, his family would play games for money. For example, he would win $ 10 if he was the first to solve the puzzle on the Wheel of Fortune. He also remembers having played various board games for money, such as scrabble. $ 5 bets were a lot of money for him at that time. He is no longer impressed by such small sums, which makes sense when you look at the sums he has won playing online poker since then…
So Sorel Mizzi has been used to gambling from an early age, and of course, he is particularly used to winning. Perhaps he felt that there was more out there for him, just sitting there waiting for him to come get it. His mother had a passion for video poker, so he was introduced to the rules of poker as a child, sitting in the lap of his mother. Most of the time, it was 5 Card Draw that was played on these machines—perfect training for a prospective poker pro.
Things Start to Get Serious…
He started to really play poker in high school at the age of eighteen. This is where he broadened his repertoire of poker variations to include Texas Hold’em, probably the most prevalent and relevant variation today.
It was also during this time that he started playing online poker, for which his brother is to blame. His brother owed him money and instead of giving it to him in cash, he transferred it to a PartyPoker account. Of course, Sorel Mizzi’s brother could never have imagined what this would trigger.
After having won several games, Sorel Mizzi started thinking more and more about his future. Having graduated, the first thing he did was join the army, where he served in the reserves. It wasn’t a very glamorous lifestyle, but it gave him enough free time to delve further into the world of poker. He also invested a lot of time into his second hobby, table tennis. He was so good that he could have even had a career as a professional table tennis player. How should he proceed, should he go with table tennis or poker? He asked no further though because who could make a living playing table tennis?
He spent night after night in front of the computer wandering from poker room to poker room. He combed through many of the different online poker casinos in search of worthy opponents to learn from or crush. He found his mentor, John “JJprodigy” Field, from whom he learned the fundamentals. Yet he never copied his playing style or anyone else’s. Instead, he used this opportunity to look over the shoulder of a much more experienced player to pick out certain aspects of his game, which he then intuitively incorporated into his own strategy.
Sorel Mizzi plaed as “Zangbezan24” on PokerStars. “Zangbezan” is a Persian word meaning “call me” in English. He heard this word the first time from one of his Persian roommates, who used it a lot while on the phone. One time, Sorel asked him what it meant because Sorel liked the sound of the word so much, he just couldn’t get it out of his mind. Since the word is so ambiguous, he goes by this nickname on PartyPoker and PokerStars.
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Sorel Mizzi has a professional but rather freaky setup; he has three monitors, which he uses to play at up to eight tables at the same time. He does this because that way, he has good chances of always getting at least one good hand that he can focus on. He does this for up to eighteen hours a day. This is a good - but most likely also a very, very exhausting- strategy that requires a whole lot of concentration and cognitive skill. Try talking on the phone, driving, and eating a Big Mac at the same time… that’s almost what it’s like. At least these marathon sessions were compensated well though. Sorel Mizzi has already saved up so much money, that he can afford to live in his own house, which he bought at the age of nineteen, and drive a Porsche Boxster. When asked how much he has earned playing poker, his response is, “A good amount!”
On His Way to the Top
Today, one can call Sorel Mizzi an online poker legend without exaggerating, possibly even one of the best Multi Table Tournament (MTT) players in the world. Since starting to play full time in 2004, he has already won over $ 500,000 on PokerStars alone. Because he has played at so many different providers— before playing exclusively for Betfair Poker —and because he never passes up an opportunity to play a game, one can only estimate how much he has racked up by now. It must surely add up to well over a million. He has recently begun concentrating on live games and tournaments and he is doing a pretty good job, already playing against top-class pros such as Joe Hachem for big money. In the first year of his offline career he won over $ 600,000!
Yet there have also been some incidents that tainted Sorel Mizzi’s career, which probably haven’t affected his game, but which made him pretty unpopular for some time.
The Mizzi/Vaughn Incident
In the November of 2007, it came to light that Sorel Mizzi “bought” the account belonging to Chris “Slippy Jacks” Vaughn, who was one of the last 24 players left in a game for the FullTilt million. Mizzi ended up winning the tournament with Vaughn’s account, but during a routine check of the player accounts, the FullTiltPoker team noticed some inconsistencies and discovered that Mizzi had played for Vaughn. Because of this, both were barred from playing at FullTilt Poker.
The first prize went to the original second place finisher, who went public and put this big, widely ignored problem back up for discussion - namely how difficult it is to regulate who is sitting in front of the computer and playing with what nickname. Sorel Mizzi confirmed in a statement that this was an isolated incident and not something he does regularly— and that he did not give it much thought. In the future, Sorel will not condone such doings and if necessary, will work to help uncover such incidents of “account-selling.”
Even if this wasn’t exactly his finest moment, one has to admit that he is probably one of the best online players the world has seen.
A Day in the Life of Sorel Mizzi
As soon as he gets up, Sorel takes part in a morning warm-up tournament, for example a $ 200 buy-in event that a lot of the biggest online poker names take part in as well. Nine hours later at the end of the game, he has placed second and wins $ 41,000.
After nine hours of playing, Sorel Mizzi is wide awake and takes part in another $ 100 or $ 200 Rebuy tournament at Betfair. These are considered to be the most challenging and most demanding games on the internet!
In the $ 100 Event, he beats 245 players (including Annette 15) and leaves the virtual poker table $ 29,000 richer. Along the way, he places fourth out of 181 participants in the $ 200 Rebuy event. This means another $ 12,000 for him. The Final Event included top-class players such as Noah “Exclusive” Broeken.
This is about what a normal work day looks like for Sorel Mizzi; fifteen hours of online poker later and $ 90,000 richer he can go to bed satisfied.
Staying in Form…
Earlier, where he was still in high school, Mizzi spent a lot of time at the gym but in the last couple of years he hasn’t been able to find enough time to continue doing so. Just recently, he has started working out again because, he says, it helps him reduce stress and therefore improve his game. Such activities are extremely important when you think about what the life of a poker player entails: junk food, being isolated from friends and family and spending most of their time in front of a computer screen.
Mizzi the Philosopher…
Sorel Mizzi spends a lot of time thinking about the future of poker and even gets a bit philosophical regarding this topic:
“Now my theory regarding the future of profitability in poker is that if the majority of people who gamble don't understand or are not willing to learn how to play a simple game like blackjack properly then how on earth will they ever understand or get good at the complex game of poker? It's because of human nature that poker will always be profitable; destructive characteristics including ego, stubbornness, ignorance, and superstition that are likely to cause the downfall of any poker player. Poker is the perfect way to legally steal from the rich and give to the poor.”
Tactic, Tips and Tricks
It is important to be a good observer in order to be able to read your opponent and to get to know his or her typical traits, or better yet, to always know what he is going to play and how. Sorel says:
“I have a different way of looking at the game. The biggest thing about poker is knowing what you can do to certain players and what you can't…”
Sorel Mizzi is an information junkie, which you will notice immediately once you have played against him. His ability to read practically every game is almost uncanny—not only the hands he has already seen or how he plays them, but also his reaction time. It is almost as if he were sitting right beside you at the computer seeing each of the hands you get.
Yet it is not only important to be able to read your opponent, but other things such as instinctive and intuitive behavior can drastically influence the course of the game. This is why, Mizzi says, he ignores the pot odds most of the time if he thinks he has an advantage with his hand. Also, when his chances for a Coin Flop (a player goes all in and has a 50:50 chance of winning) are in his favor, he’ll just call.
If you have bad luck and are sitting to the left of Sorel Mizzi, he just might employ a “Three-Bet.“ This is how it works: he raises above the cut-off (the player to the left of the dealer) in a game where the blinds are getting pretty high. Of course, then you go over the cut-off yourself, and so you raise. After which he gets everything back by re-raising—holding absolutely nothing.
Furthermore, Mizzi advises beginners to continually experiment with new and creative options. This is what he did during those endless hours in front of the computer; and this experience and the constant variation of his game, is now one of his best weapons. Older players like to write him off as a young aggressive online player and often forget how much tactic and strategy lie behind the seemingly frivolous moves Sorel Mizzi makes. He suggests to younger players not to worry too much other think of you because you’re not sitting at the poker table to be accepted or loved—but exclusively to make money.
Bankroll management is also very important; especially beginners, who often don’t want to worry about it too much, should pay more attention into it. Sorel Mizzi has just recently started working more intensely on his bankroll management, but already has some tips:
You should just accept long losing streaks, they are a part of poker like the cards with which you play, and it will hit any player sooner or later. His recipe for recovering from such bankroll slumps is rather simple: he plays volleyball, listens to the song “Relax, Take it Easy” by Mika or looks at videos of Tony G playing, one of his biggest role models.
The Ultimate Final Table
Sorel Mizzi’s ultimate final table would be dominated by Canadian poker pros. Mizzi would have Daniel Negreanu, who is from Toronto, to be a part of it because he was Mizzi’s first big role model. Mizzi would also like to have Gavin Smith, Greg Mueller, Mike Mac Donald and Matt Kay have a seat at the table. He knows all of them personally and to play with them for really big money, would be a lot of fun for Mizzi.
May Sorel Mizzis Imper1um continue to grow and prosper!
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