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Brian Rast is a professional poker player and the winner of the first $500k Super High Roller Bowl at ARIA Resort & Casino.
Rast was born in Colorado, but attended high school in Poway, California, where he became valedictorian in 2000. He discovered poker in 2003 after watching the cult hit Rounders. All it took was a few games with friends, and just one or two trips to the casino, for him to be hooked. Once he started reading books and taking it more seriously, he put most of his money and time into poker, quitting the temp job that he had been working. A new identity, “tsarrast,” was created and he began to take the online world by storm.
After making $20k his first summer playing, he was still not convinced that it would be a career path and he continued attending college. The following summer, however, he grew a respectable bankroll and the fall semester of school had barely begun before he simply stopped showing up for classes. At that point, he had a bankroll of $100,000 and felt confident that his future was in cards.
Managing that $100k is largely what is responsible for his continued success. He credits a conservative approach with getting him through the first few years as a professional player without going broke like so many others. He is the first to admit that he was not very good at the start of his career, but by managing his money he was able to continue to support himself while he improved. Even with swings of $100k, he could play in smaller games and keep following his dream. At the start, he played $10/$20 live games and $2/$5 online, but as time passed he moved on to stakes as high as $50/$100 online. Even after getting a taste of high stakes action, no game was too small if it meant that he could keep calling himself a professional poker player.
Upon moving to Las Vegas, Brian Rast moved into the now famous Panorama Towers. There he surrounded himself with high stakes professionals who were working their way up the ranks, including Jason Somerville, Isaac Haxton, and Antonio Esfandiari. This led to what he called a “downswing in my life,” living the party life of Vegas and playing very little poker. When he did play, the results were not pretty unless you were his opponent. No matter how conservative his bankroll approach was, this could have been the end of his career. Upon making a no-drinking bet with Esfandiari, however, he turned around both his life and his poker playing.
Several large cashes came after this change in lifestyle. His total live earnings come in at over $16 million thanks, in part, to his consistent deep runs in the past few years. In 2011 he won the $50k Poker Players Championship, where many consider the true “best poker player” to be decided, for $1.7 million. 2012 brought another large score at the Big One For One Drop, where he came in 6th for $1.6 million. Yet another high roller was put in the books in 2013 at the WPT $100k event for $1.08 million.
Most recently, Rast made a name for himself as the winner of ARIA’s Super High Roller Bowl. He outlasted many of the top names in the game, like Daniel Negreanu, Ben Sulsky, Dan Coleman, and even fellow Panorama tenants like Isaac Haxton and Antonio Esfandiari. At the end, he turned a $25k buy-in satellite into a monstrous score of $7.5 million. While he has three other seven-figure scores on his resume, this was by far the largest and the one that put him in 11th place on the all-time money list according to Hendon Mob.
Brian Rast can be found on PokerStars under the same name.
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