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Brian Rast Secures Record-Tying Third WSOP $50,000 Poker Players Championship Victory

41-Year-Old Pro Tops 99-Entry Field To Win Sixth Bracelet and $1,324,747

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Brian Rast made poker history on Thursday, June 22, 2023 taking down the World Series of Poker $50,000 Poker Players Championship event for a record-tying third time. The 41-year-old poker pro beat out an elite field of 99 entries to join Michael Mizrachi as the only three-time PPC champions.

“It means a lot. I mean, I love this tournament. It’s my favorite tournament to play,” said Rast in his post-win interview with PokerGO sideline reporter Natalie Bode. Rast then went on to shout out his wife Juliana.

“I want to take this opportunity, cause my wife isn’t here, but I love you, Ju. Every break this tournament, she was with me. Sometimes playing poker, there are a lot of emotions inside and a lot of things going on and she always knows exactly what to say to me,” said Rast before detailing some of the ways she helped him during this event. “So Juliana, this was for you, baby. I love you.”

Rast’s first win in this prestigious mixed-game event came back in 2011. Five years later, he won it a second time, entering into a tie with Mizrachi before ‘The Grinder’ won his third in 2018. This latest victory marked Rast’s sixth career WSOP bracelet win. Rast also took down the 2011 $1,500 pot-limit hold’em event, the 2018 $10,000 no-limit deuce-to-seven single draw lowball championship, and the 2021 $3,000 no-limit hold’em six-max event.

In addition to becoming just the 20th player ever to have won six or more titles at the series, Rast’s latest run to the title also saw him earn $1,324,747. He now has more than $24.8 million in lifetime earnings, good for 31st place on poker’s all-time money list. This was his sixth seven-figure score, with the largest being the $7,525,000 he secured as the champion of the first-ever Super High Roller Bowl back in 2015.

Rast also earned plenty of rankings points for this win. This was his first title and fourth final-table finish of the year. The 918 Card Player Player of the Year points he locked up as the champion saw him climb into a tie with Pedro Marques for 103rd place in the 2023 POY rankings presented by Global Poker. He also earned 400 PokerGO Tour points, enough to catapult him into 19th place in that high-stakes-centric race.

Phil IveyThis tournament played out over the course of five days. The top 15 finishers made the money in this event, with plenty of monsters of the game running deep including five-time bracelet winner John Monnette (15th), 16-time bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth (14th), two-time bracelet winner Marco Johnson (11th), five-time bracelet winner Daniel Alaei (10th), five-time bracelet winner Josh Arieh (9th), bracelet winner Ray Dehkharghani (7th), and ten-time bracelet winner Phil Ivey (6th).

Rast steamrolled the final day of this event, scoring each of the four possible knockouts along the way to securing the title.

“I will say I’m extremely pleased with how I played in the tournament, but if I’m going to be brutally honest, the reason why I found that kind of success today was I got hit with a deck,” said Rast. “I managed to beat a bunch of really amazing players. I mean, some of the guys at this final table, in my opinion, are some of the best players in the world, both from the five today and even some of the guys yesterday who busted and didn’t quite make it like Ray and Phil. I mean, I got hit with the deck today, but I’ll take it.”

The final day began with Talal Shakerchi in the lead with just five players still in contention. The first level of action went quite poorly for the British hedge fund manager and recent champion of the Triton Super High Roller Series Vietnam $100,000 buy-in main event. By the time the first break arrived, he had fallen from the top of the leaderboard to the short stack.

While Shakerchi had slid, Rast was rising. He overtook the lead during five-handed action and continued to pull away even further while Shakerchi righted the ship. The first knockout of the day saw Rast win a preflop coinflip with A-K suited facing the pocket nines of Kristopher Tong. Rast flopped the nut flush draw to go with his overcards, then spiked an ace on the turn to leave Tong in rough shape. A blank on the river sent Tong packing in fifth place. The California resident earned a career-high tournament payday of $303,071 for his strong showing.

With that knockout, Rast entered four-handed action with more than 73 percent of the total chips in play. From there, it would take him less than an hour to convert his big lead into the title.

James Obst2017 WSOP $10,000 razz championship winner James Obst lost the majority of his stack in a big hand of Omaha eight-or-better. On the turn, Obst had made the nut flush and held the best low draw in a three-way pot with Rast and 2013 champion of this event Matthew Ashton. The river paired the board, improving Rast to queens full of sixes while bricking out any and all low draws. Obst went for a value bet and called Rast’s raise to be left on fumes. The Australian was eliminated shortly after that, with Rast showing down two pair to scoop on another high-only board. Obst, who stepped away from poker a few years ago to pursue his dream of playing tennis professionally, earned $411,824 as the fourth-place finisher. This was the second-largest live score of his career, bringing his lifetime tournament earnings to more than $3.1 million.

Rast’s O8 rush continued when he turned the nut low with the nut straight for the high in another three-way pot, with Ashton’s case chips having gone in on the flop with two pair. The river did pair the board, but missed Ashton’s hand to see him eliminated in third place while Rast dragged the high side and split the low with Shakerchi. Ashton’s $573,679 cashout for his podium finish in this event was the second largest of his career. With over $3.5 million to his name, Ashton is now just outside the top 25 on the all-time money list for his home country of England.

Heads-up play began with Rast holding more than a 5.5:1 chip lead over Shakerchi. He soon extended that advantage even further with a few more O8 pots going his way. Shakerchi’s last chips got in on the second hand of a round of razz, with his final bet going in on sixth street with the boards looking as follows:

Shakerchi:(8-2)4-A-Q-J
Rast: (4-3)8-2-10-8

Shakerchi had a jack-eight low with but could improve to an eight low, while Rast had a ten-eight low and could likewise draw to an eight low. Rast drew a seven to end with 8-7-4-3-2. Shakerchi looked down at a king, which meant that he was officially knocked out in second place. He secured $818,756 as the runner-up finisher.

This was Shakerchi’s fifth final-table finish of the year, with one title and more than $4.3 million in POY earnings accrued thus far. As a result, he is now the 35th-ranked player in the 2023 POY standings.

Here is a look at the payouts and rankings points awarded at the final table:

Place Player Earnings POY Points PGT Points
1 Brian Rast $1,324,747 918 400
2 Talal Shakerchi $818,756 765 246
3 Matthew Ashton $573,679 612 172
4 James Obst $411,824 459 124
5 Kristopher Tong $303,071 383 91
6 Phil Ivey $228,793 306 69
7 Ray Dehkharghani $177,294 230 53

Visit the Card Player 2023 World Series of Poker page for schedules, news, interviews, and the latest event results. WSOP coverage sponsored by Global Poker.

Winner photo credit: WSOP / Danny Maxwell. Ivey, Obst photo credits: PokerGO / Enrique Malfavon.