There seems to be no poker tournament Brian Rast isn’t capable of thriving in. Last year, the 30 year-old poker pro won a bracelet in a large field $1,500 Pot-Limit Hold’em event, then won a second bracelet in a tournament that is just about the polar opposite—the elite $50,000 Poker Players Championship.
This year, Rast is putting on a similarly diverse display. First, he final tabled the gigantic $1,000 re-entry event early in the Series. Then, he found himself in the final eight of the prestigious Big One for One Drop tournament. And it appears Rast isn’t done yet either. He currently leads the field in the uniquely formatted WSOP National Championship.
It almost makes perfect sense that Rast is the chip leader in this tournament after one day of play. With such a unique ability to adjust to the amateurs and small stakes grinders in large field events, then shift gears to combat with the game’s top pros, it is almost as if the tournament was made for him. For those unfamiliar with the format, this year’s National Championship invited 100 participants from the WSOP Circuit, who qualified for a freeroll seat in the event, which boasts $1 million in added prize money, then offered the top 100 participants from the past two years of WSOP action to buy-in for $10,000.
Of the 100 players who could buy their way into the event, 57 took up the offer, including Rast and the man right behind him in the chip counts, Bertrand Grospellier. That brought the official field size to 157, but it is worth noting that three or four of the WSOPC freeroll qualifiers did not show up to take their seats in the event.
Each table was a fascinating blend of Circuit stars and bracelet heavy hitters, all of whom were thrilled at the chance to take a piece of the more than $1.57 million prize pool. That money will go to the top 18 finishers in the event. A min cash is worth $22,278, while the winner will take home an impressive $416,051 as well as a gold bracelet.
By day’s end, only 39 of the players were left standing. The remaining field is pretty evenly divided between WSOPC freerollers and WSOP POY qualifiers, with 21 players left who earned seats on the WSOPC and 18 players who bought their way into the tournament. So far, Aaron Massey is the Circuit qualifier with the biggest stack. He finished the day sixth in chips.
On Saturday, the players will return to play down to the final nine who make the National Championship final table. Then, those players will get a couple of days to either rest or play in the WSOP Main Event. Cards for the final table of this event get in the air on July 11th. Day 2 action resumes at 1pm PT on Saturday afternoon. Updates from the event will be available on WSOP.com
Here are the top ten chip counts headed into Day 2:
1. Brian Rast - 248,000
2. Bertrand Grospellier - 231,500
3. Matt Keikoan - 228,500
4. Drazen Ilich - 227,000
5. David ODB Baker - 212,000
6. Aaron Massey - 207,500
7. Hao Le - 192,000
8. Justin Gardenhire - 192,000
9. Huy Quach - 165,500
10. Jerry Monroe - 160,000