Only a few dozen players returned for their chance at World Series of Poker gold and the top prize of $474,102 on Day 2 of Event #51: $3,000 6-Handed No-Limit Hold’em. By day’s end, it was Brian Rast who conquered the field and claimed victory for his fifth WSOP gold bracelet at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino.
Rast has more than $22 million in tournament earnings and has claimed two WSOP Poker Player's Championships. Yet the win today wasn’t an afterthought for the five-time bracelet winner Rast, who rekindled his competitive spirit with this trip to the WSOP.
“Honestly, it’s mixed emotions, the biggest one is relief,” said Rast. “Things have been changing in my life. Since COVID, it’s the least I’ve played poker since I started. So coming back to this WSOP it’s like, I really haven’t played much for almost a year and a half. This was like a challenge. This WSOP is more like playing for the competitive spirit of it and it was cool because I’ve played poker for a lot of money and this is a decent chunk for only putting up $3k. But that said, The thing that really got me fired up about this is the competitiveness of doing it.”
Rast, 39, said he does think about his legacy in poker and all of his accomplishments.
“I turn 40 in a couple weeks and it was on my mind to make the Poker Hall of Fame. I think I have a pretty good claim. I’ve played the biggest cash games in the world for over a decade and I’ve done a lot in tournaments as well. I just don’t think there are too many people. I wanted to come back here this year to the WSOP and show myself that I can still play great poker and be around and enjoy it and hopefully add more.”
There wasn’t a huge rowdy rail on the final table today, but Rast was particularly grateful to have his wife in attendance to see the victory.
“My rail was small but it was the most important because it was my wife,” he said. “My wife doesn’t actually come out for much poker stuff. So it’s like, she never comes and sweats the cash games or anything. But if I make a final table, and she’s in town, she comes. So it’s like OK, the pressure is on. The wife doesn’t make it easy, we have to really perform here to get some attention from the missus. Like it’s funny, the hardest person to like earn her respect in that sense, is my wife.”
It took four hours of play to whittle the field down to the unofficial final table of seven. Some of the notables to fall before that point were John Racener (16th - $24,160), Christian Harder (22nd - $19,187), two-time bracelet winner Georgios Sotiropoulos (24th - $19,187), and one-time winner Manig Loeser (33rd - $12,826).
Matas Cimbolas fell just short of the official six-handed final table. He found himself short-stacked and all in with jack-nine suited against the ace-eight of Nick Yunis. Cimbolas could not improve and he exited in seventh ($53,946).
As the field started to dwindle and Rast continued to grow his stack, he said that he really started zoning on making victory a reality.
“When we were a little bit out, I started to build up a chip lead and I was like Ok, I’m going for the win. There were some spots where I was shoving and I really don’t think it was a bad play. I was trying to put max pressure on people and I mean I had a good run of cards too and it worked out.”
2021 WSOP Event #51 Final Table Results
|1||Brian Rast||United States||$474,102|
|2||John Gallaher||United States||$293,009|
|3||Tuan Phan||United States||$210,913|
Final Table Action
All eyes were on Brian Rast. The four-time bracelet winner entered with a commanding chip lead of one-third of the chips in play. First to go was Francisco Benitez. Short on chips, Benitez jammed with ace-queen and Rast called with seven-six suited. Rast connected with a pair of sevens and Benitez exited in sixth ($73,107).
Next to go was Jun Obara. The day one chip leader shoved the flop with a flush draw but ran into the flopped pair of jacks of Yunis. Obara could not improve and had to settle for fifth ($100,827). Yunis followed him out the door in fourth ($141,478) when his ace-five suited was in preflop against the ace-four of Rast. Rast paired his four and action moved to three-handed.
Tuan Phan finished in third ($210,913) after he was down under five big blinds. Phan shoved queen-jack from the small blind and Rast called with five-four from the big blind. Rast made a straight on the river and heads up play began.
Rast entered heads up play with a 5-1 chip advantage against John Gallaher and things would end quickly as he ran his queen-ten right into the king-ten of Rast. Rast held and Gallaher had to settle for second ($293,009).
Rast joins some rare air as a five-time WSOP bracelet winner. Rast is also the second player ever to win five bracelets or more without ever finishing runner-up in a WSOP event. Daniel Alaei is the only other one, who also has five. A few others on that list include Stu Ungar, Scotty Nguyen, Michael Mizrachi, and Jason Mercier. Congratulations to Brian for winning Event #41: $3,000 6-Handed No-Limit Hold’em.