World Series of Poker main event champion Peter Eastgate talks exclusively to PokerPlayer: “But truthfully, I wasn’t focusing on the record. I was focusing on the game – a championship was on the line”

History is made as 22-year-old Dane scoops $ 9.1m and becomes youngest ever WSOP world champion

At 2.36am on November 11, the curtain finally came down on the longest poker tournament in history. The 2008 WSOP Main Event started way back on July 3, when 6,844 hopefuls stumped up $ 10,000 for the chance to win poker’s biggest prize – the No-Limit Hold’em World Championship. This vast field was reduced to just nine players by July 14, at which point the tournament took an unprecedented 117- day break. Play resumed on November 9 and finally finished in the early hours of November 11 after a final table that lasted a record-breaking 15 hours and 39 minutes.

And that wasn’t the only record broken in a truly memorable final. At just 22 years of age, the new WSOP champion Peter Eastgate smashed Phil Hellmuth’s 19-year record to become the youngest ever WSOP Main Event bracelet winner.

After the marathon tournament and the media whirlwind of the past few months Eastgate must have felt he’d earned his money. And what a payday! With a first prize of $ 9,152,416, Eastgate earned over $ 100,000 for every hour he played in the Main Event. As a Danish citizen Eastgate would have been liable to pay more than half of this amount in tax, but perhaps unsurprisingly, he moved to London during the summer and now enjoys tax- free gambling as a UK resident. No matter what pots he played over the course of the 80.9 hours in the Main Event, this could actually prove to be his most astute move.

Eastgate beat Ivan Demidov heads-up for the title, and you have to feel for the young Russian player. Less than two months ago Demidov narrowly missed out on the WSOPE Main Event title when he finished third behind fellow Russian Stanislav Alekhin and eventual winner John Juanda. Another narrow miss must have been a crushing disappointment, but Demidov can take consolation in the fact that he’s become the first player to make both WSOP and WSOPE Main Event final tables.


Moments after the young Dane became the new world champion, PokerPlayer got his thoughts on the most publicised tournament ever…

POKERPLAYER : How does it feel to be the new champion?

PETER EASTGATE: It feels incredible. Especially since I’ve broken Phil Hellmuth’s record as the youngest player to win the Main Event. But truthfully, I wasn’t focusing on the record. I was focusing on the game – a championship was on the line.

PP: You started playing poker four years ago, and became serious about the game two years ago. What drew you to the game?

PE: I’m just a gambler. The way I learned to play poker was by putting in the hours and improving my game to the point where I could turn pro. I started playing in high school and broke even for two years. Then, in the summer of 2006, I caught a heater and really built my bankroll.

PP: Do you play a lot online?

PE: I love to play cash games online. I like the flexibility that comes with games always running.

PP: Did you catch a lot of tells on the other players at the final table?

PE: I had minor tells. I couldn’t put them on complete bluffs or the nuts, but I had ideas as to whether they were strong or weak or going to fold. Those weren’t the key factors influencing my decisions though. I don’t think physical tells are a big part of this game. It’s more like online poker where I focus on betting schemes.

PP: Was it difficult to play against Ivan Demidov?

PE: Ivan plays differently than the other guys. He plays tricky and looser than a lot of them. He’s a very good player and knows how to switch gears. Ivan is very famous on the tournament circuit.

PP: Now you are as well. How did you manage to stay focused?

PE: The $5m difference between first and second place keeps you focused.

PP: What’s the deal with those beaten-up red trainers?

PE: They’re my lucky shoes. I wore them four months ago and they brought me to the final table. Now they’re in pretty bad shape, though. I guess I need to get a new pair.

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