2008 wsop

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]


Sexy maths: Get the upper hand at poker

by Marcus du Sautoy

Yesterday, Peter Eastgate left Las Vegas with nearly $10 million after winning the 2008 World Series of Poker. There were more than 6,000 entrants to poker’s premier event but the 22-year-old Dane outlasted the game’s greatest exponents to become its youngest winner.

Card games are often considered to be games of pure luck but poker also requires psychology – the ability to read the temperaments of your opponents – and a good handle on mathematics, which is why time and again you see the same faces finishing in the money in major poker tournaments.

Professionals constantly calculate the probability of winning hands with the cards they hold. So, in the final hand of the tournament, Eastgate had to disguise his excitement. The cards he was holding, the ace of diamonds and five of spades, combined with three cards on the table, gave him a straight (ascending numerical cards 1-2-3-4-5). The only way his opponent, the Russian Ivan Demidov, could beat him was with a higher straight. But the maths told him that of the 990 hands that Demidov could hold, only 12 would win, about a 1 per cent chance. Sure enough, Demidov had only two pairs and Eastgate’s maths had won him the 2008 World Series of Poker bracelet.

Even before you start dealing the cards there is a lot of mathematics that it’s worth being wise to. Hustlers and magicians spend years perfecting something called the perfect shuffle, which allows them to dictate where in the deck cards appear. The deck is split exactly into two equal piles and then the cards are perfectly interweaved like a zipper, alternating one at a time from the right and left hand. It is difficult to perform this trick but, once mastered, it can be put to devastating effect. This is because the person holding the cards knows exactly how the cards are arranged.

So, for example, suppose you and an accomplice want to sting two players in a round of poker. Put four aces on top of the pack. After one perfect shuffle the aces are two cards apart. After another perfect shuffle the aces are four cards apart, perfectly placed for you as the dealer to deal your accomplice all four “bullets”.

Magicians exploit an even more amazing mathematical property of the perfect shuffle. If you do it eight times in a row, although the audience is convinced that the pack must be totally random, the magician knows that the deck has returned to its original arrangement. The perfect shuffle is a bit like rotating an eight-sided coin. Each shuffle is like moving the coin round an eighth of a turn. After eight shuffles, just as the coin has returned to its original position, the deck is just as it was before you started shuffling.

But what if you are shuffling cards for a round of poker at home tonight with your friends. How many times should you shuffle the deck to make sure that the cards are properly scrambled?

Mathematicians have analysed the way most of us shuffle. If you are doing a riffle shuffle (also called a dovetail shuffle, the one favoured by dealers in casinos) and there are L cards in your left hand and R cards in your right then a sensible model is to say that there is an L/(L+R) probability that the card is going to fall from your left hand. After analysing the mathematics of this shuffle, it transpires that you need to shuffle the pack seven times for it to become random. Any less than this and the pack retains information from the previous game.

So, if you have aspirations to be sitting there with the finalists at the 2009 World Series of Poker, just remember, it’s the maths that will make you your millions. Lucky players don’t last.

Source: timesonline


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