Mike Gorodinsky lived every poker player’s nightmare at the start of the summer.
On June 1, he walked into the Bellagio to access his cash from his on-site safety deposit box. His key didn’t work. When they drilled the box, Gorodinsky expected to see what he left in there. And there was nothing.
Once the poker started, Gorodinsky put together a few deep runs in the first couple of weeks at the 2023 World Series of Poker. But after missing a final table by one spot in the $10,000 Dealers Choice (7th) and two spots in the $1,000 Pot Limit Omaha (10th), Gorodinsky went on a tough dry spell.
It got to the point where Gorodinsky needed a break from all the action in Las Vegas, and he decided that once his run in the $10,000 HORSE Championship was over he was ready to book it out of town.
Three days later Gorodinsky’s run in the tournament finally ended, with a first-place finish, a $422,747 cash, and his third career WSOP bracelet win.
“Yeah, I definitely feel relief,” said Gorodinsky. “I mean, especially this year, I had kind of a rocky start to my summer. I was gonna fly home for a week and a half to recharge, spend some time with my wife. This run was an unexpected, really cool way to wrap up an otherwise long, tough month.”
Things started turning Gorodinsky’s way over the last few levels of Day 3. As they bagged up on Sunday night, Gorodinsky saw his path to victory growing wider.
“Wrapping up [the night before the final table], I kind of felt like I was getting momentum, and I felt pretty confident going into today,” said Gorodinsky. “Obviously [the final table] was really fast, and I felt pretty comfortable and confident the whole way.”
It was a short Day 4, to say the least, as seven players were whittled down to one in a matter of five hours. The start was rough for Gorodinsky, as a big three-way pot went to Brad Ruben when Ruben made quad sixes in Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo. But Gorodinsky quickly closed the gap, recaptured the chip lead, and started whittling all of his opponents down. His stack hit an upward trajectory as he knocked out each of the last four players in his way.
“That first hand was not ideal,” said Gorodinsky, “[But] everything kind of rolled in [my favor] right after that. There wasn’t any kind of further setback, so it was pretty easy from that point on… The cards made it kind of easy. I felt like I didn’t really need to think about it much, honestly. Then the stacks got to a point where I was able to maneuver.”
Gorodinsky’s win gives him three bracelets in mixed game disciplines, following his 2013 $2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo victory and 2015 $50,000 Poker Players Championship win. It was Gorodinsky’s first live tournament victory of any kind since a US Poker Open Pot Limit Omaha event back in February 2018, and he was happy to have made it happen in a $10,000 Championship event.
“I think this [bracelet] would rank second [of the three],” said Gorodinsky. “The PPC kind of stands alone as a cool career achievement. But this one is great. It’s been quite a few years, so it feels good to, brush the dust off and do something fun.
“I mean, every $10K-plus [buy-in] is a similar kind of field, right? When you get down to it, it’s all good players, and you just need to get the right cards and maneuver, and I was able to do that.”
The win pushed Gorodinsky all the way up to 10th in the 2023 WSOP Player of the Year race. And while he’s taking a few days off before coming back for the Main Event, which starts on July 3 and remains open for registration through July 8, there are quite a few events on the calendar while that tournament plays out.
Having won that honor once before, in 2015, Gorodinsky could certainly make a run at a repeat performance. While it’s not off the table entirely, Gorodinsky deferred to 2018 WSOP POY and current 2023 leader Shaun Deeb and his seemingly tireless push toward the award.
“Shaun just grinds so hard for it that it just it like still feels out of reach,” Gorodinsky. “I know I’m probably within another first-place finish or something, but I just know he’s gonna play everything. I miss my wife and miss my dog. I just want to go and spend some time at home before I come back out here.”
$422,747 goes a long way toward healing an otherwise tough summer, regardless of the stakes at hand. Gorodinsky hasn’t, however, shared how much he believes disappeared from his box at Bellagio. Those hoping for a happy ending to the story – a post-bracelet boost of good news on that front – are likely going to be left disappointed. As Gorodinsky prepared to fly home, he offered an update on where things stood four weeks after the initial incident.
“I’m still kind of waiting for a quote-unquote ‘official word,’” said Gorodinsky. “But basically, they ran a security process, and according to them, I’m the only person who had access to it. So compensation at this point is looking unlikely, but I’m hoping to have further conversations with something execs at MGM.”