Jul 19 2010

The Short but Successful Poker Career of Peter Eastgate

written by: John under Poker Pros Comments: Comments Off

Twenty Great Months

It has been two years since Peter Eastgate became the World Series of Poker Main Event winner. In 2008, the first place champion won a $9,152,416 prize and became the first in Denmark’s all-time money list beating Gus “The Great Dane” Hansen, who has cashed five times in various WSOP events in the past and whose highest place in the Main Event was 61st place in 2007. Eastgate also broke Phil “The Poker Brat” Hellmuth’s record for youngest WSOP Main Event winner at the age of 24. Eastgate was the first 22-year-old to sport a WSOP Main Event bracelet.

His Early Days

Poker was just a way to pass time while Eastgate was in college. He soon, however, found that he had a talent. He once logged on to online poker sites to play for cash. When he started winning large amounts of cash, he decided to leave school and pursue poker full-time. He was studying finance at the time and has said he would like to return to finish college someday.

In 2007, Peter entered live tournaments. He played the Irish Open No-Limit Freezeout in which he made it through to the final table and ranked 9th when it was all said and done with. He took home a substantial prize of more than $61,000. Enjoying the success and excitement of tournaments, he went on to play in the European Poker Tour that same year, before heading out to Las Vegas.


After beating Ivan Demidov heads-up for the World Series of Poker bracelet Peter said, “I do not think I have realized yet what a big moment this is. It will come the next days and weeks. I expect I will get emotional about it later. But not as much now.”

Eastgate held A-5 and Demidov had 2-4. The flop came down 2-K-3, and then the turn was the 4, giving Eastgate the wheel straight and Demidov two pair. The river turned a 7 and Demidov went all-in. Eastgate immediately called, winning the championship. The tournament drew 6,844 players and Eastgate became the youngest champion of the event ever.

Then the Danish Taxman Wanted His Cut

Denmark has strict taxation rules for poker winnings; Eastgate would have to pay a whopping 45% in taxes on winnings roughly $520,000 and 75% on the rest (over $8.5 million). In the end the total Danish tax bill would be $6.6 million!

It is reported that luckily, Eastgate moved to England before reaching the Main Event giving him dual citizenship. Perhaps this protected his winnings, but it’s doubtful whether or not the Danish tax authorities accepted his residence in England.

World Cup Distraction?

Over three million fans made the trip to South Africa to cheer on their country at the FIFA World Cup game this year. Among the crowd were quite a few poker players including Eastgate. Even PartyGaming saw an unexpected decline in quarterly poker revenue, and they are blaming it on the World Cup. Since last month, the company reported a decrease of 11% to 13% since last quarter in its poker revenue and a dip in daily average players of 8% to 9%.

Eastgate has always been a big soccer fan, so it does not come as a surprise that he would want to support his home nation at this event that only occurs once every four years. When you are 24, four years seems like a really long time. Eastgate said, “The World Cup is an event I cannot miss, especially to see the best teams playing the best football.”  When it came down to it, the World Cup was more important than winning a second bracelet.

Nothing to Prove

Eastgate has been hard at work on the poker circuit until this point. He finished 5th in the 2010 National Heads-Up Poker Championship for $75,000 and took 7th place in the PokerStars North American Poker Tour  High Roller Bounty Shootout at the Venetian in February for $85,000. In January, Peter landed an 8th place win in the European Poker Tour Deauville Main Event for nearly $100,000. Just one year after winning the 2008 WSOP Main Event, he took 78th place in the 2009 installment for $69,000.

Peter admits, “When I started playing poker for a living, it was never my goal to spend the rest of my life as a professional poker player. My goal was to become financially independent. I achieved that by winning the WSOP Main event in 2008. The period following has taken me on a worldwide tour, where I have seen some amazing places and met many new people; it has been a great experience. In the 20 months following my WSOP win, I feel that I have lost my motivation for playing high-level poker along the way, and I have decided that now is the time to find out what I want to do with the rest of my life. What this will be, I do not yet know. I have decided to take a break from live tournament poker and try to focus on Peter Eastgate, the person. I want to thank PokerStars, my friends and family for their support over the last 20 months and for their support in my decision to take a break from poker.”

He Will Be Missed

The Director of PokerStars Nordics, Michael Holmberg, states, “We know that poker will miss this world class player and world class role model, but PokerStars has only the deepest respect for Peter’s decision. Poker is about determination and excitement and if Peter lacks this in his game, the right decision is to take a break; Peter has played amongst world champions, and he has carried his title in the most admirable fashion. Tournament after tournament, the young poker player from Odense, Denmark has achieved great results and has established himself as one of the greatest natural talents the poker world has ever seen.”

Peter Eastgate has won personal respect all over the world with his honest and well-grounded personality. Whether or not he finds his way back to poker is unknown, but he seems like one of those people who will find success and fulfillment where ever he goes, whether it’s with poker or in some other venture.

Comments Off - Click Here to Speak Up