Brian Rast Wins His Second WSOP $50,000 Poker Players Championship
Brian Rast made history this week, becoming the second player to win the World Series of Poker $50,000 Poker Players Championship (PPC) twice. He previously won the event in 2011. For this victory, Rast won $1,296,097.
The Poker Players Championship is an eight-game mixed tournament, featuring a rotation of No-Limit Hold’em, Seven-Card Stud, Omaha Hi-Lo, Seven-Card Razz, Pot-Limit Omaha, Fixed-Limit Hold’em, Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo, and Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw Lowball. The event was introduced in 2006 as $50,000 HORSE, in an attempt to give the world’s top pros a tournament that could in at least some way be a contest to see who the true best poker player in the world was (at least at that moment, in that tournament). While the $10,000 Main Event is still the highlight tournament of the WSOP, it only No-Limit Hold’em and is so difficult to navigate without tons of luck that it is not really seen as the test of a true world champ.
In 2010, the game variations were expanded and the name of the tournament was change to the Poker Players Championship. It became a ten-game mix last year, but went back to eight games this year. When the HORSE tourney originally debuted and then later when the name was changed, the final table was exclusively No-Limit Hold’em to appeal to television viewers. That turned out to be lame, though, so it was changed back to the regular structure; it is not televised anymore.
The winner of the Poker Players Championship receives the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy, named after Chip Reese, who won the first tourney in 2006. He passed away in 2007.
Rast entered the final table third in chips, behind Justin Bonomo and Michael Mizrachi. Speaking of Mizrachi, he has also won the PPC twice, so Rast foiled his attempt to become the tournament’s first three-time winner. Frankly, it is pretty incredible that in eleven years, two men have won it twice each.
Rast made a fantastic comeback at the final table to even get to heads-up against Bonomo. At one point during three-handed play, he was down to just 1.2 million chips, staring up at Bonomo’s giant 16.7 million chip stack. He was still facing a heck of an uphill battle going into heads-up, down 14.235 million to 8.515 million.
But Rast quickly worked his way back and throughout the heads-up match, the chip lead went back-and-forth several times. The final hand occurred during a No-Limit Hold’em level – no surprise, really – but interestingly, it wasn’t a desperation situation for Bonomo, who at that point was only behind by a little bit. The river killed him, though. Throughout the betting rounds, Rast kept check-calling and on the river, and with the board reading A♠-T♦-5♣-A♣-K♠, called Bonomo’s final all-in. As mentioned, it was that river card that did it. Bonomo had Q♣-J♠ for the Broadway straight, but Rast had A♦-T♠: he had turned a full house and Bonomo had been drawing dead on the river. Had that King not shown up, Bonomo may have very well stayed alive in the tournament.
After the match, Rast told WSOP officials in his interview, “This final table was really tough. 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.”
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