Known in the online poker world as “tsarrast,” the poker player who’s earned a living from his virtual play has finally earned the respect from his live poker peers by winning his first World Series of Poker bracelet. A supporting cast that included family, and well-known poker pros Antonio Esfandari and Dan Fleyshman cheered him on as he was eventually awarded a gold bracelet in Event #15, $1,500 Pot-Limit Hold’em.
Although it goes without saying that Brian Rast is one of the most established online players in the world, much of his success hasn’t transferred to the live tournament stage. While it would certainly be a mistake to say that the poker player from Denver, Colorado hasn’t been close, a major tournament victory has managed to elude him for several years. Actually, many years.
Rast has finished as deep as 3rd in the 2007 World Poker Tour Championships for $101,230, and as far as 7th in the 2009 Five Star World Poker Classic Championship for $204,275. Although placing in the top 10 is great, as the saying goes, most people don’t remember the runner-up.
Most players would be very content with finishing deep in a major event, as the prize money grows substantially towards the top of the pay scale. However, being an experienced pro, winning thousands of dollars at the felt comes as an everyday occurrence. As he personally admitted, first-place prizes don’t necessarily provide life-changing money, but for most players, the satisfaction arrives in the form of the coveted title.
A final table victory was several years overdue.
“I would have to say that I feel satisfied more than anything else,” Rast mentioned in a post-match one-on-one. You get used to making deep runs and near misses but there’s always a feeling of disappointment when you bust out 20th or something.”
Well this time Rast didn’t bust out early, and he earned $227,232, his largest live tournament win to date. With his determination he outlasted a field of 765 entrants, and with his latest win, is now approaching the $1 million mark in career tournament earnings with $959,158. He’s earned over half of that from his 6 cashes at the WSOP alone.
The 29-year-old poker player from Poway, California plans on playing more events in this year’s World Series of Poker, although the lucrative side games will be his primary responsibility. As many cash game pros are aware, the side games during this time of year can be just as profitable as the tournaments themselves. Especially since online poker in the U.S. doesn’t appear to be making a comeback anytime soon, the man known as “tsarrast” will be looking to put in more hours within the live poker scene.
Rast mentioned the indecision of the federal government in terms of their stance on online poker, as it’s a double-standard to both tax poker as a profession and also brand it as a game of chance. The Stanford University alumnus certainly understands the idea that poker is a game of skill, although many critics and naysayers would disagree.
“I think they should just be consistent and realize it’s a game of skill. Let people play.”
Despite the protest of many of poker’s biggest faces, the situation doesn’t appear to be improving anytime soon.
However, unlike the recent legislative effort to improve online poker, we’ll be moving diligently to provide you with all of the latest updates regarding the state of virtual poker, and the 2011 WSOP.