WSOP: Rast Wins $50K Player’s Championship; Hellmuth Runner-Up Again

Brian Rast is the first double bracelet winner of the 2011 WSOP.
Brian Rast is the first double bracelet winner of the 2011 WSOP.
Twice in the first five weeks of the 2011 World Series of Poker Phil Hellmuth found himself heads-up for a bracelet in a World Championship event. Both times he’s had to settle for a runner-up finish.

Make that three times.

Wednesday night Brian Rast won his second bracelet of the 2011 WSOP by beating Hellmuth heads-up for the $50,000 Player’s Championship after a heads-up battle that saw Hellmuth ahead by a 5-1 chip count at one point. Three times in the last 15 minutes Rast faded a Hellmuth flush draw. The first two times allowed Rast to double up twice. The third was the last hand of the tournament.

“It was amazing. There wasn’t really a back and forth. He just won every pot for an hour. It was pretty frustrating,” said Rast. “It was something to fade those (flush draws) and I definitely got lucky to win. Luck is a very strange thing.”

Hellmuth previous two runner-up finishes came to John Juanda in the $10,000 2-7 Triple Draw Championship and Eric Rodawig in the $10,000 Seven-card Stud Hi-Lo Championship.

“I know he’s going for his 12th bracelet. I’m happy for him but it doesn’t matter to me that he gets his 12th bracelet for the poker world,” said Rast. “I wanna win too.”

The day began just shy of the final table, but it didn’t take long for Jason Lester to bust out in ninth place and set the official eight-handed action into motion. When play began, it was Minh Ly leading the field, but his reign at the top didn’t last long, as Rast won a big pot off of Ly during the first orbit of play to claim the lead.

Rast’s stint as chipleader was brief as well. Rast got very aggressive when he flopped a pair and a flush draw on a QJ5 board and put Hellmuth all-in. Hellmuth called instantly with a set of jacks, which held up to give him a massive double and the chip lead.

Hellmuth wasn’t worried about chips and he had a little less to worry about in terms of the WSOP Player of the Year race when the POY frontrunner coming into the day, Ben Lamb, busted in eighth place. A short-stacked Lamb shoved all-in over the top of a raise from Scott Seiver with A2 and Seiver called with AJ. Seiver’s hand held and Lamb exited in eighth place, earning 86.4 POY points.

Seiver dispatched with Lamb, but his chips didn’t stay in Seiver’s stack long. Seiver was starting to get short and open shoved all-in for his last 1.3 million or so (roughly 20 big blinds at the time) with 88 only to run into Brian Rast’s AA. Rast’s rockets held up and Seiver exited in seventh place.

The field continued to shrink at a relatively rapid rate with George Lind’s sixth place exit. He check-raised all-in on an AQ6T board with QT for two pair and Ly called with 78 for a flush. Lind did not fill up on the river and the field dwindled to the final five.

The final table had a moment of controversy when Matt Glantz moved all-in over the top of an under the gun raise from Ly. Action folded around to Owais Ahmed in the big blind and, before he could decide on his action, Ly mucked his hand out of turn. With Ly out of the picture, Ahmed called with AQ and Glantz, who was visibly angry at Ly’s mistake, turned over QQ. The queens held and Glantz doubled, but he sternly warned Ly not to do it again.

Despite the double up, Glantz was the next to go when he shoved all-in holding JT on an AQ7 flop. Hellmuth was next to act with Ly behind him and tanked for a while before folding what he said was A7. Ly tanked a while himself, then called with AK for top pair. The T on the turn gave Glantz a couple more outs, but the 3 on the river was no help and Ly jumped up the chip counts to join the ranks of Rast and Hellmuth as the big stacks at the table.

It took nearly four hours for the four handed action to find an elimination. Ahmed had nursed a short stack for the entire time before he finally found his way to the rail. In a blind versus blind battle Hellmuth limped from the small blind and Ahmed moved all-in from the big. Hellmuth took no time in calling and tabling AJ and Ahmed showed KT. The flop came K97 and Ahmed surged ahead. The 5 on the turn didn’t change things. The river did though, Hellmuth caught the A and Hellmuth earned another elimination and Ahmed was out in fourth place.

Hellmuth’s chip lead disappeared but the Poker Brat only slipped to second place. That’s until he managed to get Ly to commit his chips with an inferior hand.  Hellmuth raised to 280,000 and Ly responded by moving all-in for 1.95 million. Hellmuth took some time before making the call and tabling A6 while Ly turned over K5. The flop came 976 and Ly picked up a gutshot. The 5 on the turn gave Ly a few more outs but the 3 on the river meant Ly was out in third place.

Heads-up play began with the two players nearly dead even in chips. Hellmuth had 10.15 million and Rast was sitting behind 9.185 million. The first big pot only took 12 hands. Hellmuth called from the button and the two players saw a Q63 flop. Rast bet 180,000 and Hellmuth called. The 3 hit the turn and Rast bet 410,000. Hellmuth check-raised to 2,000,000 and Rast called. After the J on the river Rast checked and Hellmuth bet 3,000,000. After a long time thinking about his decision Rast eventually folded an Hellmuth took a 3-1 chiplead. That would be the beginning of the end for Hellmuth.

After getting ahead by as much as 5-1 in the chip counts Hellmuth had two chances to send Rast home and capture that elusive 12th bracelet – both on flush draws with all the money going in after the flop. Both times Rast dodged Hellmuth’s outs and suddenly the stacks were even. It took only 12 minutes for Rast to get all the chips.

On the final hand of the night Hellmuth raised from the button to 400,000 and Rast called. The flop came JT9, Rast opened for 500,000 and Hellmuth responded by moving all-in for close to 8,000,000. Rast called instantly and tabled KQ for a flopped straight but Hellmuth was alive with a flush draw – again – as he turned over 82. The turn was the 5 and river the was the 8. Rast managed to avoid Hellmuth’s flush draw for the third time and in the process captured the $50,000 Player’s Championship, $1,720,328 and his second bracelet of the summer.

Here are the final table results from the $50,000 Poker Players Championship:

1st: Brian Rast – $1,720,328
2nd: Phil Hellmuth – $1,063,034
3rd: Minh Ly – $665,763
4th: Owais Ahmed- $482,085
5th: Matt Glantz – $376,750
6th: George Lind – $300,441
7th: Scott Seiver – $243,978
8th: Ben Lamb – $201,338

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