In news that has stunned the poker community, 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Peter Eastgate has stated that he plans to retire from international high-stakes poker, at least for the time being.
In a blog on his sponsor site, PokerStars, Eastgate indicated that he lacked the desire to continue to pursue the lifestyle of a professional poker player. “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,” the 24 year old Eastgate states. “My goal was to become financially independent. I achieved that by winning the WSOP Main Event in 2008.”
Eastgate goes on to say that, while he has enjoyed the ride of being recognized as a former Main Event Champion, his heart may not be in the game anymore. “The period following (winning the WSOP Main Event) 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,” Eastgate writes in the statement on the PokerStars blog. “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.”
Where Eastgate becomes a bit cryptic as to his future is at the end of the statement: “What this (next chapter) 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.”
Since his victory at the 2008 WSOP Main Event, where he won $9.15 million, Eastgate has been traveling the world and seemingly playing well. In 2009, he won a $5,000 No Limit Hold’em preliminary event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure for $343,000 and then went on a sizzling run in defense of his WSOP championship. In last year’s tournament, he finally succumbed in 78th place, arguably one of the best championship defenses of the past ten years.
In the past ten months, Eastgate has been around the world displaying his poker skills in such locales as London (where he finished second in the European Poker Tour (EPT) Main Event), Tallinn, Estonia; Sydney, Australia; Deauville, France; his home court of Copenhagen, Denmark; and Las Vegas. According to the Hendon Mob database, he has won $1.54 million since his WSOP championship and currently sits sixth in lifetime earnings with $10.9 million.
Obviously, however, Eastgate has felt the call of other things outside of the poker world. In June, Poker News Daily reported that Eastgate would not attend any preliminary events at the WSOP, focusing his concentration on Denmark’s run in the 2010 World Cup and traveling to South Africa for the matches. He commented at the time, “I don’t have the motivation to play all the small events at the WSOP. That would be a waste of money. To me it’s not that important to win bracelet number two.” He also questioned the logic of some of the “young guns” in the game, most notably Tom “durrrr” Dwan, playing in the preliminary tournaments because of prop bets on winning bracelets.
Eastgate isn’t the first young poker pro to make the decision to step away from the felt for a while. Late last year, noted online pro Shaun Deeb announced that he would step away from the game, only to reappear at this year’s WSOP. Former EPT champion Michael “Timex” McDonald and online cash game wizard Jonas “Nebuchad” Danielsson announced a “retirement” of sorts from the game this year.
Comments on Eastgate’s decision has sent social media outlets and poker forums into a frenzy. On Twitter, none other than eight-time WSOP bracelet winner Erik Seidel noted, “Wow, 2008 WSOP champ Peter Eastgate quits poker… Interesting story, wish him all the best.” Noted French poker journalist Benjo DiMeo thought that Eastgate’s move was for the best when he Tweeted, “Now here is a smart kid.”
On the forums, Eastgate’s decision has been met with mostly good will. On PocketFives.com, poster “TpocketT” remarked, “Eastgate seemed like a very smart, thinking player. Gl to him, I think he’s basically done what most people set out to do when they become poker players – get rich and retire.” Another poster, “matze_widi,” agreed, stating, “I like that move, reevaluate your life… there are so many more fun things to do other then playing poker… and he obviously has no money issues.” But perhaps the final word on Eastgate’s decision – and potentially a look to the near future – was written by “wackyJaxon”: “I would guess that he will be back, its just a temporary decision, gives him time and then can play when its ‘fun’ for him. Would take a small prop bet he enters a live tourney by end of next WSOP.”