Peter Eastgate: The World Champion Speaks

By Matthew Showel

The 2008 WSOP Main Event final table has been called historic, and when Peter Eastgate took it down earlier tonight in Las Vegas it lent a great deal of credence to that claim.

To replace Phil Hellmuth as the youngest-ever World Champion, at 22, Eastgate had to wade through a massive 6,843-strong field and face Russia’s Ivan Demidov heads-up. Eastgate, who plays under the name Isser on PokerStars.com, didn’t look worried for a second.

When it comes to media circuses in poker the Main Event’s conclusion is unparalleled. Thanks to a well-placed microphone and the ability to interrupt people, we managed to get a few choice cuts from the post-victory discussion.

Congratulations Peter. Take us through that last hand.

Sure. To sum up the heads-up match a bit I got him crippled, down to under $20 million, and I was lucky he hit two pair on the turn in the last hand and I hit the wheel. It was inevitable that it would go in there. So I was very lucky in that spot.

You were in control of this match for most of the time. Tell us a bit about how it went.

Well, the early stages of heads-up were just the standard swings. I didn’t make any real mistakes. It might have been that he was catching hands but he was taking good advantage of the spots. But I wasn’t afraid of him getting the chip lead. I was confident in my game and I really just wanted to keep playing the game I always do.

I do try to adjust to my opponents and change gears but I wasn’t in doubt of what I was doing. I think I played great.

You’re so calm right now. You just won $9 million and you’re sitting here with such a calm look. How are you feeling?

Well, I guess I haven’t really realized how big this is. I’m sure in the next day or week I will become more emotional.

Do you have a background in games or sports? Are you really competitive?

I’m just a gambler. I’ve been gambling for like four years. With poker I approach it by just putting in a lot of hours. I try to learn from my mistakes and improve my game. I was introduced to poker in high school and I loved it.

Will you be watching it tomorrow on television?

That’s for sure! But tonight I have to celebrate.

How does it feel to be the youngest Main Event winner?

It’s incredible. It’s great to have this record. Phil Hellmuth wished me luck yesterday.

Was there a clear turning point at this final table?

For the whole final table I never got below $20 million. There was one big hand against Dennis Phillips where I got up to almost $40 million so I think that would be the turning point. When I got to heads-up I was pretty confident. I thought I had an edge over everyone but Ivan was probably the most competent player at the table.

It was kind of expected when I ended up heads-up with Ivan.

Thanks Peter and congratulations again.

* * * * * * * * * * *

It seems like Peter Eastgate is a man of few words. Luckily for him his play was able to speak volumes at this final table. Eastgate may have run great, but he backed it up with an extremely disciplined strategy.

We’ll be seeing a whole lot more of Peter in the next year as he begins his one-year sentence as worldwide ambassador of poker, carrying on the long tradition of PokerStars champions.

Having waited so long for this day it’s hard to believe it’s come and gone. In the end it was the longest Main Event final table in history. We enjoyed every second of it and we’ll be back next year to do it all over again.

[Thanks to pokerlistings.com for the contribution]

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