Brian Rast believes his place in poker history is largely based on playing in the world’s richest cash games rather than his tournament success.
But that didn’t stop the high-stakes pro from appreciating the magnitude of his latest achievement.
“I take poker pretty seriously, and what my legacy is or how I’m viewed by my peers is important to me as a form of professional respect,” Rast said. “I do care about that, and from that aspect, what I was able to do here today was obviously something really special.”
Rast claimed the World Series of Poker’s $50,000 buy-in Poker Players Championship early Thursday at the Rio Convention Center, the second time he has won the prestigious event.
The 34-year-old Las Vegas resident joins Michael Mizrachi as the only two-time winners of the tournament, which started in 2006. Rast earned $1,296,097 for the victory along with the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy.
“Part of the reason why this was so gratifying and satisfying for me is because it was a mixed-game tournament and I felt a little slighted going into it in some of the limit mixed games,” Rast said. “It was just satisfying from a professional standpoint that I did this, and even bet some on the side against some people.”
Rast, who also won the PPC event in 2011, moved into elite company with his third career WSOP bracelet. His latest victory pushes his career live tournament earnings to almost $17.8 million, which is No. 10 on the all-time money list, according to Global Poker Index.
Rast was short-stacked for much of the swingy, six-handed final table, and survived an intense heads-up match against professional poker player Justin Bonomo of Glendale, Colorado, that ended just shy of 1 a.m.
Rast eliminated Mizrachi in fourth place and sent Eric Wasserson to the rail in third but still trailed Bonomo by almost a 3-to-2 margin as heads-up play opened. The lead changed hands on multiple occasions over the next 2½ hours of play before an abrupt ending during a hand of No-limit Hold’em.
Bonomo moved all-in after hitting an ace-high straight on the river, and Rast, who held a slight chip advantage, called with the winning full house to send his cheering section into a frenzy.
“The river is kind of a sick cooler, of course,” Rast said. “He also set himself up by making an overbet on the turn, but his bet is a fine bet, totally reasonable, and given that he made it, it ended up being a set-up hand with a king river.”
Bonomo, who nearly went wire to wire for the victory in the five-day event, took home $801,048. It was his second runner-up finish this summer and the sixth time he’s finished second in a WSOP or circuit event.
The Poker Players Championship, which features a rotation of eight games, drew 91 entrants for a prize pool of $4,176,000.
“I didn’t play perfectly all tournament,” Rast said. “There were definitely a couple times, like I think early on in Day 3, the first level I played pretty bad — it’s like I wasn’t warmed up yet — I made a mistake, but it’s a long tournament, a forgiving tournament because of how many chips you get.
“I’m really, really happy with how I played overall, and I’m very, very, very happy with how I played at the final table.”