Brian Rast was born November 8, 1981 in Denver, Colorado where he lived until 1990 when he moved to Poway, California. There he attended Poway High School where he became the Class of 2000 valedictorian, earning his way to Stanford University. Brian always loved strategic games, and although being familiar with poker dating back to high school, Brian started playing weekly at the Stanford Poker Club (founded by his friend Mike Asmar) in the spring of 2003. This whetted Brian's appetite, and that summer Brian went home to Poway determined to learn poker and make some money. He started buying and reading as many poker books as he could. He took a temp job and used that money to fund his poker habit, playing online and live at Barona Casino. Within five weeks, he had quit the temp job to focus full time on poker for the remainder of the summer.
After making $20k his first summer playing, Brian was hooked. He went back to college to try to slog through until graduation, having been reasoned to by his father that this was the "smart play". Easier said than done in this case, Brian's grades slowly degraded over the next year in school. By his last quarter in school the following autumn, Brian was rarely going to class. He failed all his classes, winding up on academic probation. Despite these academic failures, Brian was having success with poker. Having built up his bankroll while struggling in school, he felt confident in his ability to blaze his own trail and earn a living playing cards.
For the next few months, Brian continued to live up in the Palo Alto area, playing poker both live and online. Online he played mostly cash no limit hold'em, and live he played primarily at Lucky Chances - the only cardroom at the time which offered no limit hold'em (and also some limit hold'em at Garden City and Bay 101). That summer of 2005 he left the Bay area and took his first shot at the WSOP. Soon he was back living in Poway, playing online, and making regular trips to Commerce Casino & Las Vegas to play live.
Lured by both the poker opportunities and the party lifestyle, he eventually chose Las Vegas over Los Angeles. After making numerous trips where he stayed at Bellagio, sometimes for over 25 days in a month, he finally decided to save some money by renting a place in Henderson and moving out to Vegas permanently in 2007. Then in mid 2008, he bought his first place at Panorama Towers - a highrise where many other poker players live due to it's location and quality. He quickly met and became good friends with some other poker players in Las Vegas, notably Keith Gipson, Andrew Robl, Antonio Esfandiari, & Phil Laak. Brian fell headfirst into the party lifestyle, drinking and partying too much. By late 2009, Andrew, Antonio, Brian, & Keith along with Dan Fleyshman decided to form Victory Poker - a poker website that ultimately shutdown after Black Friday. Around the same time, Brian realized a change was in order, and he and Antonio hired Dave Swanson to be their full-time trainer. It was a relationship that soon went beyond business, as before too long Dave was living with Brian in Panorama Towers.
In January 2010, Laak convinced Brian to travel to Brazil with him. It'd be a trip that would change his life in a big way. While in Rio de Janeiro near the end of the trip, Brian met Juliana Karla Carlos da Silva while out drinking. It was something special from the very first day that the world couldn't stop, no matter how hard it tried. And it did try in the form of two failed USA visa attempts. Despite this, Brian and Juliana talked daily on Skype and Brian made numerous trips to Brazil to continue the relationship. The couple were engaged later that year and found themselves trying for a third visa, a fiance visa.
The 2011 WSOP happened during the leadup to the fiance visa, and marks a special time professionally for Brian because it's when he won 2 WSOP bracelets, including the prestigious $50k Poker Players' Championship. Capping off that summer, Brian left the WSOP early (missing the main event for the only time in his career since he started coming to the WSOP in 2005) in order to accompany Juliana to her fiance visa interview. Juliana's visa was accepted! She came to America in November of 2011 along with her son Krishna, when her and Brian were promptly married (also resulting in Brian switching roommates in Panorama from Dave to Juliana and Krishna).
Around 2010, Brian started making regular trips to Macau to play cash games, playing in both the Wynn games and the Starworld games. Brian would go regularly to Macau until 2014. For the first ten years of his career, in fact, Brian was primarily a cash game player. But with the changing cash game scene, as well as tournament success in 2011-2013 (He won the $100k High Roller in December of 2013, and final tabled the $1M One Drop in the 2012 WSOP, coming in 6th.), Brian soon started playing more tournaments. In the last few years since 2014, Brian has increased the number of tournaments he plays and now can reasonably be called both a cash game and tournament player. He normally plays the "Cary Katz" 1-day high roller tournament series at the Aria. Usually there are about 2 a month, which Brian tries to play when he's in town.
The last two WSOPs have been special for Brian as well. In 2015, he won the inaugural Super High Roller Bowl at the Aria, a $500k buy-in televised tournament. It was the first inaugural event for Poker Central (which has recently signed Brian!). In 2016, Brian won the 50k Poker Player's Championship for the second time, becoming the second player (along with Michael Mizrachi) to win one of poker's most prestigious tournaments twice. After his 6th consecutive year of at least $1million in cashes in 2016, Brian is now the only person in poker history to have 6 straight years of 1M+ in cashes... and the streak is still alive and active! This is a relatively lucky outcome considering the low volume of tournaments Brian played in 2011-2013 (16 cashes over the 3 year span). And even though Brian's made tournaments more of a priority, he still enjoys playing cash games. When in Vegas, he can regularly be found playing in the mix game in Bobby's Room, or any other high stakes game of any kind that happens to run.
Recently Brian and Juliana moved the family from Panorama out to a house in Summerlin where they enjoy the extra room and slower pace away from the strip. They've added a German Shepherd, Maya, to the family with hopefully more people and dogs on the way. Brian still enjoys playing poker and it remains his primary focus. That said, Brian has a diverse group of interests ranging from health and fitness, nutrition, reading, movies, music, TV series, basketball, and games. Brian remains curious and always enjoys learning new things - keeping up with science, cosmology, politics, and other topics.
"I am fortunate to be where I am, and appreciative for what I have. Life has been an amazing ride so far.
There's an applicable phrase by Newton, 'If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.' Every day I learn from what so many brilliant humans have already done. That concept is true of so many things that we do in life, and it is most definitely true for me with poker. I am grateful for the luck I've had, and also for the people and teachers I've met along the way."
You can find information, discussion, and links on this website to Brian's poker career, affiliations, and interests.