Peter Eastgate recently became the youngest Main Event winner in World Series of Poker history at age 22, breaking Phil Hellmuth’s record by two years. He was the fourth Danish poker pro to win a bracelet during the 2008 World Series and pocketed the second largest WSOP payout ever in the process, $9.1 million. He sat down with Poker News Daily to discuss his big win.
Poker News Daily: Tell us how you got started in poker.
Eastgate: Four years ago, I was introduced to poker in high school. I was fascinated by the game and then heard about online poker. I played [recreationally] for two years and in 2006, my results were getting really good. I decided that I could make a living playing poker.
PND: Has your life been completely turned upside down after winning the Main Event?
Eastgate: It’s not really that much different. I’m back where I live now. I’m not getting recognized on the streets, so I can walk around anonymously. However, the media is calling me much more often that they normally would.
PND: What plans do you have for the money?
Eastgate: I really haven’t thought that much about it. You have to think for a very long time about it. It’s very important that the decision you make is the right one.
PND: Were your friends and family supportive along the way?
Eastgate: They’ve supported me. I’m quite open to them about what my goals are in poker. You need to collaborate with others and be open-minded. They only want to see me happy and that’s the most important thing.
PND: When play was paused in July, what were your thoughts? Did you want to keep playing or was a break needed?
Eastgate: When were played in November, there were more than 1,000 spectators. Even though I would have liked to get it all over with in July, it’s better to have the delay. I think it was a success. The circumstances were the same for everyone. When the cards were in the air, I was more than ready.
PND: Did the final table play out as you expected it to?
Eastgate: Some of the guys played a bit less aggressively than I thought and some were playing more aggressively. It didn’t play out as I expected it to and I didn’t expect to win. There were a lot of different things that happened that I didn’t expect. My momentum was going well for me. So many things went my way. The thing that people don’t think about is that if I didn’t won that big hand against Dennis Phillips, then it would have been a lot different. Winning that hand opened me up to being able to raise pots. Even hands when I wasn’t involved, thing were going well for me. I was lucky in so many ways.
PND: Your stoic attitude at the table was quite admirable. Talk about your demeanor at the table.
Eastgate: When I won, that was the most ridiculous celebration scene ever because I didn’t even celebrate. If I had to redo it, I would have gone crazy. You need to show the world that you are very happy to win. I was happy, I was just astonished. I was in a state of shock and also exhausted after playing for two days.
The tournament was a challenge physically. You’re playing for 12 hours per day and you can’t sleep. You have to eat the right things and think about the things you don’t otherwise think about. We played on November 9th in the morning and on the 10th in the evening, so you have to adjust your play. I didn’t get a lot of sleep, so I had to sleep in the afternoon. Before going into the heads-up play, I had to hide my fatigue. I was hoping that Ivan Demidov didn’t notice that or else he would have dragged it on. When play started, the motivation of the title and money made all my fatigue disappear.
PND: After seeing how it played out, would you recommend that the WSOP have a delayed final table next year?
Eastgate: It’s a great concept. If I make other final tables, I’m glad that I’m not playing them four months later, but I think it can do extraordinary things for poker.
PND: What advice do you have for beginners?
Eastgate: Try to collect as much information on the game in books and on the internet as possible. Try to play freerolls and play without risking any money. When you’re ready to play for real money, think about how much they want to risk. Be conservative with your bankroll.