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The Scoop: Brian Rast

by Erik Fast |  Published: Feb 22, 2012


Brian RastBrian Rast is the classic poker double threat — playing in the biggest cash games in the world and also having great success on the tournament scene, with just under $3.1 million in lifetime earnings. At the 2011 World Series of Poker Rast won a $1,500 pot-limit hold’em event and the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, keeping alive an unbroken eleven-year streak during which at least one player won multiple WSOP bracelets.

In order to secure that streak and the $1.7 million first prize that came with the Players Championship title, Rast had to beat a determined Phil Hellmuth heads up. Rast stopped by the set of Card Player TV’s “The Scoop” to discuss some of the key hands he played against Hellmuth in that riveting one-on-one battle.

“Personally, it was really great to have won it for me, for my career, for all of that… but in particular, it was kind of neat to play Phil Hellmuth heads-up for it. It’s like the type of situation that you dream of when you start playing poker. Any kid who starts playing basketball has dreams of one day playing Michael Jordan. I cannot think of anyone who would be more, you know, ‘neato’ to beat heads up. I mean, maybe Phi Ivey. But Hellmuth has done so much, and it was especially cool to play him at a World Series of Poker tournament, where he has won more than anyone else. So that was really special.

“It was a really tough heads-up match. There was a time when he was winning every pot, and I never really had anything. [Before coming back] the coverage on TV basically showed three hands that I lost, starting with one where I lost with pocket kings to his A-7. A lot of people actually would have won the tournament right there, in his shoes. I was getting relatively short, less than four million in chips and I opened with kings. I had been min-raising almost every button, so it is kind of a tough spot whether or not to ship all in for him. I’m just deep enough that he was probably thinking that he doesn’t get called by worse very often, so he didn’t go all in. But, he could have easily shipped it, and I would have called with kings and lost when he made a straight on the turn.

“I tried to tell myself, as I was getting super low on chips, ‘don’t try to make something happen and go out of your way to win a pot. Play good poker, and hopefully the cards will turn around a little bit.’ And so this spot came up where I had ADiamond Suit KHeart Suit. He limped from the button and I raised from the big blind — a decent enough raise that I figured that he would put me on a pretty good hand.

“The flop came 10Heart Suit 4Heart Suit 4Spade Suit, I bet out and he shipped it. I thought that he almost never has a four there, with that just being a little too low to limp-call when we’re deep. Although, to be fair, Phil does do some goofy stuff, especially when he’s on a run. I also think he doesn’t ship a four there, because he probably believes that some of the time I am going to fold. I think he has a flush draw so often, that with A-K with the king of hearts, I just have to call as I am getting 2-to-1 from the pot. I think it’s kind of funny, to me that hand is pretty standard, but I don’t think that everybody thinks that way.

“Luckily, I faded that one, and I had a really sick feeling that I was going to lose. It was pretty much a coin flip, and I had been running pretty bad. But once I won that, I was back over five million in chips and I just started to feel a lot more confident, and it just all happened really quick after that.” ♠

To see host Diego Cordovez’s full interview with Rast, check out “The Scoop” on