Brian Rast Boosts Poker Hall of Fame Case With Third WSOP PPC Win

Brian Rast strengthened his case on the day he was named a Poker Hall of Fame finalist by winning his record-tying third $50,000 Poker Players Championship title – his sixth WSOP bracelet overall.

Tim Fiorvanti
Jun 23, 2023
Brian Rast won his third $50,000 Poker Players Championship title and sixth overall World Series of Poker bracelet on Thursday.

On a day in which he was named a finalist for the Poker Hall of Fame, Brian Rast made a strong case for his inclusion among the legends of poker in a dizzying display of dominance on the way to winning his third career World Series of Poker $50,000 Poker Players Championship title.

It was his sixth career WSOP bracelet victory, and Rast, 41, who also won the PPC in 2011 and 2016, joined Michael Mizrachi as the only other three-time champion of the most prestigious mixed game poker tournament of the year.

“It was really gratifying. This year, and last year, my focus was tournaments. It’s nice coming in saying, ‘OK, this is what I’m doing this summer’ and then having it work out,” Rast said. “As I’ve gotten a little bit older, I’ve learned you really have to enjoy it when things work out, because it doesn’t happen all the time. There’s the 15 other ones I played this year, where I only cashed two other times. I made the $25K final table, but so many of them, it was Day 2 and out, [another] Day 2 and out. The $250K, out late on Day 1. Tournament poker can be tough like that, because emotionally it’s so much failure with some moderate success and then, the very occasional big-time success.”

Rast started Day 5 in fourth place out of the five remaining players, and dipped to last within the first hour of play. But after three big hands in the Razz round, Rast shot up into the chip lead and never looked back. By the time the first break rolled around, Rast had nearly half the chips in play. He’d go on to eliminate the last four players on his own, and in a stunningly brief period that spanned less than two games worth of action – Omaha Hi-Lo and Razz – Rast took the field down from four to one as he clinched victory.

Afterwards, Rast had an appreciation for what he’d just done, while still holding on to the memory of the moment his life and poker career changed forever in 2011 and realizing how much different his place in the poker world is in 2023.

“The most emotional was after I won my first PPC, which was my first major tournament I ever won,” said Rast. “In ’16, ‘17 and ’18, I was playing everything all the time. The Bobby’s Room mix game doesn’t go regularly, I’m not playing quite as much, maybe, as I was before. I treat the World Series a little different [these days]. I’m here, I’m playing WSOP tournaments every day – I’m not even really playing cash. I just have like a slightly different perspective because I’m treating poker a little bit differently.

“I’m lucky enough that I’m good enough at poker to keep on making money doing it, and investing that money, and hopefully that’ll continue,” Rast said. “For me, the World Series of Poker has kind of become my favorite thing, because I play all the games. A tournament like this, or the Dealer’s Choice, they’re my strongest events because there’s just nowhere to hide. I believe that I can play every game at a very high level, obviously some better than others.”

The Poker Hall of Fame was the topic of the day, both before and after Day 5 of the Poker Players Championship. But while cards were in the air, Rast was explicitly focused on the task at hand – defeating the four other top-level players in his way, including 2013 PPC champion Matt Ashton.

“When I’m showing up today, any thoughts involving ego are only going to get in my way at the poker table,” Rast said. “What is this going to mean for my career? What am I going to do with this money? What is it going to mean for the Poker Hall of Fame? It’s never going to help me play and it’s probably going to make me play worse.”

It’s safe to say Rast was able to clear any distractions out of his mind. Now, with six WSOP bracelets, a Super High Roller Bowl win worth over $7.5 million and over $25 million in tournament cashes, that part of Rast’s résumé puts him on a Hall of Fame level. And while he’ll continue to strive to climb higher and higher up the all-time WSOP bracelet list, Rast is comfortable with the depth of his poker accomplishments away from the tournament tables as well.

“I will say that making the Poker Hall of Fame did motivate me coming into this WSOP, and it’s part of the reason why I’ve decided to play a full slate of tournaments, because I feel like that’s more noticeable,” said Rast. “I mean, if I’m being honest, from a cash game perspective, I played the biggest cash No Limit games in Macau. I played the biggest cash PLO games years ago. I’ve played the biggest tournaments in the world, and maybe I’m not really doing that as much anymore but there was a stretch in the 2010s when I was doing that and I was winning.”

Voting for the Poker Hall of Fame is done by the 31 living members, and the 2023 inductee will be announced during the $1,979 Poker Hall of Fame Bounty Event on July 13. It could well be Rast’s name called on that day, or the limit of a single inductee per year could keep him out for the time being. Either way, Rast has no intention of slowing down his schedule or fading away from the game any time soon.

“My job is to come to the poker table, play when I want to and compete, and we’ll let the people in the Poker Hall of Fame make that decision,” Rast said. “I think what I’ve done speaks for itself, so I’ll just keep going and doing my thing. I’m gonna play poker the rest of my life. I love this game. There were a couple years there a few years ago, where I thought maybe I’m gonna be a trader and do that more. But I actually don’t like that lifestyle very much.

“I will probably never play poker quite as hardcore as I did earlier in my career, when I was a monster, but I’m always gonna play.”