World Champion Peter Eastgate gives us exclusive analysis on his strategy that made him World Champion. Read it first here!

After winning the WSOP Main Event Peter Eastgate is the man with the world in his hands

At 23, Peter Eastgate is the envy of the poker world but the young Dane appears to be taking it all in his stride. The youngest WSOP main event champion talks us through that historic final table and how it has changed his life forever.

As InsidePoker shares a comfortable sofa with Peter Eastgate in the green room at the Party Poker Premier League III, it’s easy to see why he has been dubbed ‘Icegate’. Despite being surrounded by some of the most intimidating characters in poker, Eastgate could easily be sitting in his front room. He speaks slowly, barely breaking out of monotone and only occasionally ventures a smile or raise of the eyebrow. If you needed more evidence of his icey veins, just think back to his $ 9.15m win at the end of the World Series main event? As his enthusiastic entourage danced around him, he simply re-adjusted his cap and stared at the table. It was a masterclass in understated reaction.

Nevertheless coming across as a cool customer is not a particular draw for Eastgate. He admits that his one regret about the World Series was that he didn’t make more of the moment. ‘If I could redo it I would go wild because I find it very boring to not celebrate,’ he says. ‘But on the other hand I was so worn out that I didn’t really make the transition from being focused to being happy and jolly.’

In hindsight his reaction is completely understandable. In fact both he and Ivan Demidov deserved to look shell-shocked after that final river cards was dealt. The sole focus of their last three months had just been concluded in a high pressure environment, surrounded by lights, cameras and a baying audience. If you were of the temperament that you’d break into a jig in front of Jeffrey Pollack then you’ve probably not got the kind of personality that’s able to whittle through a tournament field of 6,844 players to claim the world title at the age of 22.

Road to fame

Eastgate’s road to victory started years ago when he was introduced to poker by school friends who had seen the World Poker Tour on TV. He became fascinated by the game and learnt the old way rather than reading strategy manuals or getting involved in forum debates, ‘I learnt from my mistakes by playing a lot of hands. You also learn from the other guys that you see are winners,’ recalls Eastgate whose learning curve started a serious climb in the spring of 2006.’I went from a break-even player to winning that year. I’d been playing $ 100 and $ 300 no-limit but made little steps into $ 2/$ 4 and $ 3/$ 6 and by the summer I’d made it to $ 5/$ 10 and $ 10/$ 20.’

Although Eastgate’s main hunting ground was online, he started making inroads into the live arena in 2007 and recorded some impressive results straight off the bat. He made the final table at the Irish Open and soon after, recorded his first EPT cash at EPT Copenhagen.

By the time the WSOP main event 2008 came around, Eastgate’s game had evolved even further and with luck on his side, he was always going to be a good contender for making the final table. In time the history books will probably forget the fact that Eastgate made the November Nine with 18.3m in starting chips or the fact that he was 4/1 to win but they are unlikely to forget the powerhouse finish which saw him extinguish the dreams of five of the last six surviving players.

Up until now, no one has been able to get a detailed insight into the Dane’s strategy and how he dealt with all these markedly different players. Over the next four pages, Eastgate gives us exclusive access to his thought process throughout the final table.


Eastgate: A?-Q?

Rheem: A?-K?

Blinds: 200,000/400,000

Board: Q?-5?-7?-9?-4?

After a slow start the final table exploded into life with the exits of Craig Marquis and short stack Kelly Kim. With seven left, the pressure was beginning to mount and pro favourite Chino Rheem knew that with less than ten big blinds he had to make a move soon. He open-shoved all-in for 3.5m from the cut-off. Chip leader Demidov passed and Eastgate quickly called in the small blind. Showing A-K against Eastgate’s A-Q, Rheem was primed to double up but a Queen on the flop put paid to his dreams of going any further.

 ‘Dennis Phillips had just doubled through Ylon Schwartz with Ace-Queen versus Queens. I had around 24m and Chino had around three so I was only risking one-eighth of my stack. I thought that my Ace-Queen was way ahead of his range as he was pushing from the cut-off. I only had one person behind me and it was fairly unlikely that Dennis is waking up with a hand in the big blind. Chino’s push was almost ten times the big blind so Dennis would have had to have a premium hand if he was going to raise me out of it. That’s why I only called and I did so pretty quickly because that’s what I’d done with Aces and Kings before and I wanted him to believe that I was very, very strong so that he’d put a low pair down. If Chino had 1.5m more I would still have called.

I would think that his shoving range compared to his stack would have been up to five or six million. If his stack was bigger than that he’d probably just make a raise. If he had seven to ten million then he may have made it one million and I would have re-raised to around 2.7m. If he has ten million and pushes I can get away from the hand but if he has closer to seven I’m probably pot committed. If he’d had a bigger stack the hand would have played differently as I may have just smooth-called to keep the pot small. The dynamic would have been different at the table and we don’t know what he would have done with his hand.’


Eastgate: 6?-6?

Montgomery: A?-3?

Blinds: 250,000/500,000

Board: A?-Q?-4?-A?-6?

Darus Suharto was eliminated in sixth at the hands of Scott Montgomery. But Montgomery had been making some questionable plays and finally made one rash move too many, getting all his chips in with A-3 against Eastgate’s pocket sixes. An Ace on the flop and turn seemed to ensure his safety but the last six in the deck appeared on the river and Montgomery was out.

‘I can’t remember how much I had in my stack at this point but it was after my hand with Dennis Phillips where I had Aces so I must have had around 40m. I wasn’t risking that much of my stack and he was desperately needing chips. All the other guys had around 20m. That made it a pretty easy call. I had him dominated with my pocket sixes and I was lucky to hit the set on the river but I was ahead pre-flop. Maybe Scott thought that I was raising with any two at that point and that his Ace-three was ahead. It was kind of easy to see afterwards that I had pocket sixes but I could have had King-Jack because I would raise with that also. His timing was just off with that hand and I think it was a fairly standard situation to put it all-in against my opening range at that point. He was getting very short so he had to get some chips.

It wasn’t really that hand that bust him out, but the A?-9? against Demidov’s Kings just before. I can understand that play because it could have been blind theft and his Ace means it’s pretty unlikely that his opponent has pocket Aces. Given the probability of that, and the fact that if he’s up against Kings, Queens, Jacks or Tens a couple of those hands pass and he still has 30% against the hands that call. Some players might go along with the small pot poker strategy but it’s very difficult to keep those hands separate.’


Eastgate: 5?-5?

Schwartz: A?-10?

Blinds: 300,000/600,000

Board: K?-8?-2?-K?-5?

Eastgate and Ivan Demidov had increased their lead over the remaining two by over 20m chips and were fully in control of the table. Now it was simply a question of who would be first to buckle: Ylon Schwartz or Dennis Phillips. Schwartz’s chip count hadn’t changed much since the start and the chess master seemed ready to make a move. It happened on hand 155 when Eastgate raised to 1.5m and Schwartz made the call. Both players checked the flop of K?-8?-2?. Another King fell on the turn, Eastgate bet 1.75m and Schwartz called again. The river brought a 5, Eastgate bet 4.6m and Schwartz went all-in. Eastgate called and showed pocket fives for a full-house and Schwartz flipped over A?-10? for a stone cold bluff.

‘I opened up with pocket fives from the cut-off and Ylon made the call from the small blind. I was pretty unsure what he was holding. He could have a trapping hand like eights, nines or tens that he wouldn’t like to re-raise with because he wouldn’t want me coming back over the top. I thought he’d be trying to keep the pot small with one of those hands.

At that point, I thought his range was pretty wide which meant he could easily have me dominated. My pocket fives were a marginal hand but if I were to hit a set it was very likely that the flop would bring two overcards. I wasn’t that happy about the call but I did have position so maybe I could get to the point where I’m playing his hand more than I’m playing my fives.

The flop came down K?-8?-2?. I didn’t like the heart draw but at least it was not a very coordinated board. Actually, it’s a pretty good flop for me as it’s not likely that his hand has hit. He checked the flop and I could have bet to find out where I was but I opted to check.

The King on the turn favours me because there’s less chance of him having a King, and pairing the board is always good in this situation as it reduces the chance of him pairing. Ylon checked and now I bet because I wanted to make him pay, if he had a draw, or fish him out if he has two overs. I wanted to get some value out of my hand because I was pretty sure that I had the best hand.

He calls and again I’m quite puzzled by what he has. He could be slow playing. Why should he raise if he’s playing that line? It’s not that likely that I have a King when I check the flop and even less when the second King comes on the turn. He doesn’t necessarily think that I’m that strong because it’s unlikely I have a King. I could have been checking behind with a flopped set of eights or deuces but that would be pretty lucky as well. He probably thought that I have a complete bluff because he called with just Ace-high.

From my point of view I really don’t know where I am in this situation because he could have a King, a flush draw or a mediocre pair like nines, tens or sevens. When the five falls on the river that changes everything completely because I now have the full house and there’s very few hands that beat me. There’s only one hand that I’d really believe he has and that’s pocket eights. I wouldn’t think he’d play K-8 in the small blind, the same goes for K-2, so it’s only really pocket eights that I’d be worried about beating me.

He checks and I make a fairly well-sized value bet of 4.6m and Ylon then makes an interesting check-raise all-in. He’s doing that because he believes that I could be value-betting a pocket pair. It didn’t really look like a full house from the way that I’d played the hand so he was trying to push me off the hand. I thought for one or two minutes because it was a big pot and it didn’t really make any sense for Ylon to raise without having a full house. He’s not getting value out of me if I have something like pocket nines. If he were to hold a King why wouldn’t he just call? I would only be calling there if I had the full house myself. Any other different river card I’m probably checking behind so maybe his plan of calling on the turn wasn’t so good after all!’


Eastgate: 3?-3?

Phillips: 9?-10?

Blinds: 30,000/600,000

Board: J?-3?-4?-A?-9?

Eastgate had now established a cushion between himself and Demidov and he moved even further ahead when he caught another bluff, this time at the expense of the popular Dennis Phillips.  Phillips had gone into the day as the chip leader but after losing 20m chips right at the start to Demidov, had never been able to establish any sort of momentum. Unfortunately, he chose the wrong time to run his biggest move of the night and was easily caught out by Eastgate.

‘This is an easy one to explain. We’re three-handed and I raise it up with pocket threes. I’m the chip leader by this point with around 60m. Ivan has a little below 50m and Dennis is just below 20m. I’m in a very good position where I can put pressure on Ivan as the middle stack and I can afford to lose some chips, putting pressure on the short stack. Opening from the small blind with pocket threes is pretty standard in that situation. Dennis in the big blind only calls and I’m kind of puzzled by that. He’s in position so there’s a lot of hands that he could be playing, Q-10, for instance. I know his range is very wide there. And I got the perfect flop, as I did for most of the final table. I’ve flopped the bottom set and I lead out for about 20% of the pot and that induces Dennis to move all-in and I had an easy call.

He’s fairly unlucky that in a three-handed game I had a pocket pair and hit a set. He made a pretty risky play for the rest of his stack by playing against a narrow end of my betting range. I don’t know if I’d bet a lower pair than Jacks on that board. It’s a risky all-in but there is some reasoning to it. I think that I like Scott Montgomery’s plays better than this one though. The risk to reward ratio wasn’t very good.’


Eastgate: A?-5?

Demidov: 2? 4?

Blinds: 500,000/1,000,000

Board: 2?-K?-3?-4?-7?

The final heads-up arrived with much fanfare. but it was almost over before it started when Demidov put Eastgate to the test on the very first hand. Following the early excitement, both players tried to find their groove but it was Eastgate who was slowly coming to the fore. Once again, Eastgate proved to be a master bluff-catcher and Demidov could only watch as move after move failed to get through. By the time the final hand came, Eastgate had a 120m to 16m chip lead. The Dane limped on the button and Demidov checked the big blind. Eastgate bet 1.25m and Demidov called with bottom pair. The turn gave the Russian two-pair and Eastgate the wheel straight. Half of Demidov’s stack went in and he was committed to putting the rest in on the river.

‘I limped the button as I had many times before. I played every button. The reason for this isn’t a secret to anyone who knows anything about poker, you always want to play in position. I mixed limping and raising up to two and a half times. This time I limped and flopped a gutshot straight draw. I led out to try and pick up the pot but Ivan called. He’s probably got some kind of hand at that point as 7-8 would be kind of hard to float out of position here! I didn’t know what he had but when he checked the turn it wasn’t so important as I knew I had the best hand with the straight. If he had the 5-6 that would have been a complete sick cooler.

He checked, I led out for value and he check-raised me half his stack. If he had a made hand he would definitely call a shove, it wouldn’t make sense to check-raise and then fold if you had something. The reason I just flat-called was in case he was bluffing as I wanted to squeeze him for the rest of his stack. The river was a blank due to the board texture and he waited for about 30 seconds. The way he said ‘‘all-in’’ I could hear that he was thinking, ‘‘Oh well, this looks kind of weird and I know I could be beat but I have two pair so I’ve got to go with it.’’ I obviously made the call and was in shock as you can see on the ESPN coverage.’

The future

The rest is now history. Eastgate took the applause and the cash and became poker’s latest celebrity. Suffice to say that Eastgate doesn’t possess the kind of personality that allows him to rest on his laurels. In the three months since his historic victory, he’s amply demonstrated his World Champion credentials. In October, he was within touching distance of the final table at EPT London, finishing 18th out of 596 runners. And most recently he managed to win three heats at the PartyPoker Premier League, more than holding his own against the likes of Tony G, Roland de Wolfe and Phil Hellmuth, who has finally had to cede his youngest main event winner crown. ‘Phil congratulated me and has been very nice. I’ve heard rumours that he’s distressed that I’ve broken his record but as he says himself he can’t invent a time machine and go back. There’s nothing he can do about that record. He can do something about having the most bracelets by keeping on playing the World Series but he can’t break the youngest ever again. You only live once,’ says Eastgate without a hint of smugness.

Indeed it’s the Dane’s maturity which seems to impress onlookers as much as his play. If you didn’t know already, it would be impossible to guess that he had just won the most hyped-up poker tournament of all time.  Not bad going for a man barely out of his teens.

‘I was pretty anonymous before the World Series main event and now that’s starting to change as there are lots of people wanting interviews,’ he says. ‘That is probably the biggest change. There’s obviously the money but I haven’t decided what I want to do with that yet. I was pretty wealthy before and could do whatever I wanted for one or two years but now I’m pretty much set for life.’

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