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Poker News | Online Poker | News

Betfair Signs Sorel Mizzi

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On February 20, Betfair Poker announced that online poker player Sorel Mizzi, who plays as Imper1um, became the newest member of Team Betfair. He joins WSOP Europe champion and online phenom Annette Obrestad (Annette_15) on the sponsored team of players.

After some press leaks that Betfair would be signing a future superstar, along with the fact that the name would garner much attention from the media, the online gaming site released the name, along with a bio of Mizzi on the website.

At a press conference in Copenhagen, Mizzi said, “Overall, 2007 was a great year for me, and by joining Betfair Poker in 2008, I’m getting in with a team which not only has a great reputation but more importantly, it’s going places. With Betfair backing us, I reckon Annette_15 and I have more than enough firepower to take down a few of the big names in tournament poker.”

Betfair’s Head of Poker, Bruce Stubbs, added, “I am proud to add a player like Sorel Mizzi to our team. He is regarded as one of the best online tournament players in the world by many and has the results to prove it. Now that he has joined Team Betfair alongside poker pro Annette Obrestad, I honestly believe we have the two best tournament players in the world right now. There is a new world order; look out!”

The Canadian poker player is only 21-years old and got his start by playing with friends in high school,
then online for several years as Imper1um. His online rankings were impressive enough to be noticed by Poker Verdict and called the best online poker player on the planet, and ranked him as the number one player in the online world in early 2007. He then began making the transition to live tournament poker and placed third in the Paddy Poker Irish Open for over $280,000.

After becoming of legal age to play in the U.S., Mizzi came in 15th at the 2007 World Poker Tour World Championship for more than $150,000, then cashed in three events at the 2007 World Series of Poker. His online successes include numerous victories in PokerStars tournaments, such as the Sunday Warm Up and the High Stakes Heads-Up Showdown, and the biggest Titan poker tournament in the site’s history.

What makes this story most interesting, however, is that Mizzi was one of the two players caught cheating in an online poker tournament in late 2007. Only several months after a scandal that made many in the poker world take note of the illegal behavior and his subsequent explanations for his actions, he is signed to a sponsorship deal with an online gaming site.

The scandal, as first discussed here, involved Chris Vaughn, the former managing editor for Bluff Magazine, who went deep in a Full Tilt $1 million guaranteed Sunday tournament and sold his account mid-action to Mizzi, who had already been eliminated from the tournament. Mizzi went on to win the event, though Full Tilt soon discovered the wrongdoing and disqualified Vaughn’s victory, then banned both players from the site indefinitely.

In an exclusive interview with PokerNews several weeks after the improprieties took place, Mizzi and Vaughn stumbled through the question and answer session. Mizzi claimed that this was an isolated incident rather than a trend. “I’m not a cheater,” he said. “I’m not a multi-accounter… It’s not something that I’ve done in the past.”

Later in the interview, Mizzi said, “My primary focus, like I said, was to be a contender for the online player of the year and because of all these things that have happened, my resource from Full Tilt has been cut off and I can no longer play on there… I have lost good friends and my credibility… I’d like to come out with an apology, because I know that what I did was wrong. The more I think about it, the more I believe what I did was wrong and it’s something that I want the poker community to know that I would never do again.”

Admitting that he behaved in error and lost credibility was apparently enough for Betfair,
whose executives made the decision to sign Mizzi not even six months after the blatant disregard of the rules took place on another online poker site. While the online pro might have been truly remorseful for his actions, it seems a bit risky to sign a player who has few years of experience in poker and a resume with a large asterisk next to it.

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