BRIAN RAST WINS THIRD WSOP GOLD BRACELET AND 2016 POKER PLAYER CHAMPIONSHIP
JULY 5, 2016 – 7:43:43 PM PST | Nolan Dalla
BRIAN RAST WINS $50,000 BUY-IN NO-LIMIT HOLD’EM EVENT
34-year-old high-stakes poker pro collects $1,296,097 top prize in Event #55
Rast winBrian Rast is the winner of the 2016 Poker Players Championship.
The 34-year-old professional poker player now residing in Las Vegas, NV added his name to an elite legacy of icons which currently includes Freddy Deeb, Scotty Nguyen, David Bach, Michael Mizrachi, Matthew Ashton,JohnnyHennigan, Mike Gorodinsky, and the late Chip Reese, who has become the tournament’s revered patriarch. However, after tonight, he’s now even done one better than those on that list — except for one player.
With this astounding comeback victory in one of the game’s most anticipated annual gatherings, Rast became only the second player in history to win the Poker Players Championship twice, after Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi first accomplished the feat in 2010 and 2012. Rast’s wins have come in 2011 and now again in 2016.
The $50,000 buy-in tournament featuring a wide mix of games was played over five days and nights and concluded on the ESPN main stage at the Rio in Las Vegas in front of a packed house of spectators, as well as a worldwide viewing audience online at WSOP.com.
Rast collected $1,296,097 in prize money, making this triumph both the toughest and most satisfying win of his career — both monetarily and certainly in terms of personal accomplishment. This marked his third career gold bracelet victory, after winning his first title in 2011, playing in a $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha event and then winning the PPC that same year. This was also his 29th career series cash. The prize money won tonight catapulted him across the $5.5 million mark in lifetime WSOP earnings.
“This final table was really tough,” Rast said in a post-tournament interview. “I was really low on chips for a lot of it. The heads up match was a really long battle. And, it was definitely satisfying. I would agree it was both my toughest and most satisfying win.”
On the other side of the emotional spectrum, Rast’s win dealt a difficult blow to Justin Bonomo, who had already come close a number of times at this year’s series to winning what would have been a second WSOP title. He finished 2nd once and 3rd twice over the past month. Now, with this deep run, Bonomo has two 2nds and two 3rds. With yet another impressive showing Bonomo has jumped to second place in the 2016 WSOP “Player of the Year” race, but is still well behind current leader, Jason Mercier.
As was expected by just about everyone, the list of players that cashed included a virtual “Who’s Who” of poker. Mike Gorodinsky, the PPC defending champion, finished in 13th place. Two-time PPC winner Michael “The Grinder Mizrachi” had the chip lead for a time on the final day, but finished fourth. Then, there was Robert Mizrachi, coming in 14th place, and Daniel Negreanu finishing 12th. This was a loaded field indeed, making it arguably the most prestigious of any tournament on the annual calendar for professional poker players.
“I really didn’t play perfect all the way through – there were some times when I didn’t play well. I played really bad the first level of Day Three – I wasn’t warmed up yet,” Rast said. “But this tournament, with the structure, it’s very long and it’s very forgiving because of how many chips you get. I was really, really happy with how I played, and happy how I played at the final table.”
Bonomo seized the chip lead on the third of the five playing days and garnered much of the public’s attention, although with Mizrachi and Rast still in the field, there was plenty of excitement to go around. However, for Bonomo the hard road to an unfulfilled victory took a few unexpected turns and hit some speed bumps along the way, ultimately ending up in another close call without capturing the bracelet.
Bonomo lost the chip lead when play was down to five players. That’s when Michael Mizrachi seemingly took command for a short time. However, the two-time winner of this event lost a few big pots to Bonomo and by the time play was three-handed, the Colorado-based poker pro was not only the chip leader but also seemingly in total command of the final table.
Once Eric Wasserman’s good fight came to an end as the third-place finisher, that put Bonomo up against the formidable Brian Rast, who had closed this same deal before five years earlier. Rast overturned a 4 to 1 chip disadvantage and took the lead for a time. However, Bonomo roared back and seized command in a see-saw battle which left most of the poker world on the edge of their seats. The two experienced foes battled back and forth for nearly three hours before the final hand was dealt out.
The ultimate moment of triumph came when Rast scooped the final pot of the tournament with a full house – aces full of tens against Bonomo holding a straight, who finished as the runner up. His consolation prize amounted to $801,048.
Rast’s victory was made all the sweeter by having his father as a spectator. He’s been at the final table for all three of his son’s gold bracelet victories.
“Tournament wins are what everyone sees, and I get that,” Rast said. “They are something you can look at. But for me, it’s more about the other things. But I understand that’s what the public looks at. From that standpoint, it’s cool.”
Rast went on to explain that he values success in both tournaments and cash games as being important when judging a historical legacy.
“For me I play so much poker, I play for really high-stakes all the time. So, I’m not always playing tournaments — I’m mostly a cash game player. But since I play the biggest cash game limits in almost every game, I think that does say something professionally. Tournament results have a lot of luck involved. I was blessed to run really good in events that were so big. There are plenty of other great players who weren’t as fortunate. While I feel I played well, that’s not all of that and I realize it.”
This prestigious tournament is now in its 11th year. The inaugural PPC was won by the late poker legend Chip Reese who died in 2007. The trophy presented each year is named in his honor. The winner gets to keep possession of the trophy until the following year when the prize is passed along to the new champion.
With this impressive victory, Rast’s profile as one of the poker greats now appears cemented in history.
“This is what I have chosen to do with my life,” Rast said. “I would be dishonest if I were to say that I haven’t thought about my place in the game. I could have done a lot of things with my life when I was in my early 20s. I chose poker. And I do care. I don’t care what other people in the world think. But I care what other poker professionals think. I take poker seriously and where my legacy is and how my peers think of me is a measure of professional respect. What I was able to do today was really special.”