A couple weeks ago, Damon Shulenberger conducted a Skype interviewwith professional poker player Brian tsarrast Rast (pictured), posting portions of it online. It was “far ranging,” as he put it, covering topics from poker to politics, but overall, it provided some insight into both the poker world and Rast’s mindset.
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In the first portion, Shulenberger asked Rast about his play during the 2015 World Series of Poker, how much he focused on cash games as opposed to tournaments. Rast said, to Shulenberger’s surprise, that he actually played tournaments more than cash games, though it sounded like the split was not far from even.
Rast played in about 30 tournaments during the WSOP, five of which were at Aria: two $25,000 tourneys, two $25,000 satellites, and the $500,000 Super High Roller Bowl, which he won for $7.5 million.
He frequented the big mixed game at Aria often, though. Rast explained that with high-stakes games like that, there typically needs to be what Shulenberger and he called an “instigator,” that is a whale who is in a business other than poker. Rast added, though, that an instigator is not necessarily always the biggest loser at the table – he’s just the one who starts the ball rolling.
While it is implied that pros often don’t want to play against each other without a “fish” at the table, Rast said he enjoys playing against all types of players.
Moving on, Shulenberger asked about Rast’s first bracelet win, the 2011 WSOP $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship in which he won $1.7 million. Rast said, “In a sense, the $50K was sort of well-timed for me that year because… I had been playing some mixed… and so while I wouldn’t have called myself an expert by any means, I think that I was probably underrated by other people.”
Nowadays, the entire Poker Player’s Championship is a mixed game, but at that time, the final table was strictly No Limit Hold’em, catering to ESPN’s television audience. “It really helped at the end that the final table was No Limit Hold’em,” Rast noted. “Essentially, it ended up being a really soft $50K No Limit Hold’em final table.”
He continued, “A lot of the people in general who made the final table were better mixed game overall players than they were just straight No Limit Hold’em players, so like, I’d say of all the people at the final table, it benefited me the most in terms of the difference between my overall mixed game versus my overall No Limit Hold’em [game].”
Part 3 of the interview was mostly a political rant, but Rast discussed the Super High Roller Bowl a bit. He praised the tournament, criticizing poker in general for being the most watched sport or game in which the players have to put up all the money and receive nothing in return from event organizers or sponsors.
To the Super High Roller Bowl, he said, “To be honest, this is the first event that seems sustainable that really is doing something for the players.”
In the final part of the interview that has been posted to this point, Rast and Shulenberger discussed some of his thought process behind bankroll management and his mindset depending on how much he has at stake.
He won a $25,000 satellite to gain entry into the $500,000 Super High Roller Bowl, but whereas a lot of people would view the $500,000 as essentially a freeroll, Rast treated it the same as he would have had he bought in directly.
He was going to play regardless of whether or not he won a satellite, so he viewed the satellite as a $475,000 win. That he won the satellite had no bearing on how he played in the main tournament; he wasn’t going to throw caution to the wind just because he had less money at stake.
Rast sold pieces of himself prior to the $500K, but did not say how much. What he did say, though, is that winning the satellite did not have any bearing as to how much of himself he sold. What it did do was guarantee a profit, as selling more than $25,000 of his buy-in meant he automatically came out ahead even if he busted on the first hand.
Rast added that he does derive a lot of satisfaction from winning money not just for himself, but for other people who invested in him. Read an interview with Rast about the Super High Roller Bowl.