The poker gods have been smiling down on Brian Rast at this year’s WSOP. Rast just beat out poker legend, Phil Hellmuth, to win his second WSOP bracelet and bring his winnings up to nearly $2 million for the month.
It all started on June 11 when poker pro and friend of Rast, Antonio Asfandiari, bumped into Rast and convinced him to play in the WSOP $1,500 Pot Limit Holdem tournament running that very day. Rast was hesitant but Esfandiari encouraged him and even staked him in the tournament.
Rast went on to beat out all 764 other players and collect the biggest payday of his career with $227,232. Brimming with confidence (and cash) Rast then decided to take his chances in the highly competitive WSOP $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship. After five days of gruelling competition, Rast went heads-up against Hellmuth with 5-1 chip deficit and came back to win it all for $1,720,328.
Hellmuth, who has come second in three WSOP tournaments so far this year has failed yet again to secure the 12th WSOP bracelet he so badly wants to win. Likely frustrated by Rast’s tenaciousness, Hellmuth made a critical error one hour into heads-up action after Rast had managed to acquire just slightly more chips then him.
With Hellmuth holding 9.3 million chips and Rast holding 9.9 million, the final hand’s flop came J-10-9 with two diamonds showing. Rast opened up with a bet making the pot about one million chips and Hellmuth came over the top and pushed all-in 8-2 of diamonds. Rast made the call and showed K-Q for the nut straight. With no help on the turn on the river, Hellmuth was eliminated.
“It was very surprising to me that that was the play he decided to make because I thought he played really well the whole tournament and I don’t like that play,” Rast said. “I just think that he’s risking 9 million to win a million that’s in the pot and every time he gets called, he’s in really bad shape.”
Oddly, the second place finish which was good for just over $1 million, was Hellmuth’s biggest cash to date. Not that the money mattered much to the Poker Brat, who is clearly focused on extending his record of having the most WSOP bracelets.
While the multiple second place finishes likely sting, they do contribute a lot of points to his run at the WSOP Player of the Year Award.
“It’s not like I ever thought I was going to win the tournament,” Hellmuth said. “I just stayed focused and kept playing, but I felt pretty good when he had 3 million and I had 17 million.”
For Hellmuth, it was a disappointing end to a memorable run for his record 12th WSOP bracelet. The $1.06 million was the biggest single payday of Hellmuth’s life, but “The Poker Brat” cares more about championships than money at this point in his career.
It was the third time this summer that Hellmuth, who famously won the 1989 Main Event for $755,000, finished as the runner-up in a tournament. He’s currently at the top of the WSOP Player of the Year standings. “Player of the Year is kind of nice, but I’m after bracelets,” Hellmuth said. “It’s nice to fall back on.”
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