Peter Eastgate - WSOP Champion

Peter Eastgate

04 December 2008

Only moments after he'd disposed of Ivan Demidov and collected a nice little bracelet and a few million dollars, Bluff Europe interrupted the 2008 WSOP Champion to ask if he'd spent it all yet.

Fearless, unreadable...and we're not talking about the interview. The Young Dane is at the top of the poker mountain, where he'll reside for the next 12 months. We caught up with him moments after the win, just so he didn't do the lot on the craps tables or something....

Congratulations Peter! What goes through a man’s mind the moment he realises he’s won the World Series of Poker?

It was a kind of relief that it was all over – the whole event, I mean. The WSOP began in July and it’s a huge physical drain. I was worn out. So I just was happy that I could relax a little now and celebrate.

How did the three-month postponement of the final table affect the players and the way the game played out?

It definitely changed the game, that’s for sure. People played differently to how they would have three months ago – I played differently. I had to adapt to the new circumstances and I think I did that very well. I think some of the other guys were worried about getting out of the “zone” – losing the momentum they had three months ago – and I think I was able to take advantage of that.

How did you prepare? Did you study the TV footage of your opponents?

Yeah, I watched the footage and tried to pick up some information about the other guys. I spoke to them a bit, too, and tried to get a feel of how much the money meant to them – what their ambitions were. I discussed hands with them in order to get an idea of how they think and feel about poker – and how they regard the final table, which might be very different from how they view poker in general. But I wasn’t doing too much homework – the main thing is to pick up information at the table when the game’s actually going on – all the usual stuff, like players’ physical tells and tendencies. To take it hand by hand – that was my primary goal.

The most important thing in preparing for the final table, though, was dealing with the pressure – the three-month wait, thinking about how high the stakes were. But I felt I was very well prepared – I wasn’t very nervous or afraid. I was ready to bust out ninth if it was meant to be. But I was very lucky and I won the whole thing!

You were trying to gauge what poker meant to the other players. What does it mean to you?

I love poker. When I started playing about four years ago I became fascinated by the game – the psychological aspect, getting into your opponent’s head and seeing how he reacts. It’s fascinating…

All nine of you developed a strong camaraderie over the three months. Did that have an effect on the outcome? Was it tough to have to dash your friends’ dreams of winning the tournament?

I’ve been thinking about that a lot – whether the fact that we had become friends affected the way I played. First of all, it’s very important to keep the camaraderie aside from the game. In poker you need to look out for yourself. There’s so much money on the line that, during the game, the eight other guys become enemies because they can all knock you out.

But I’ve had a lot of fun hanging out with all of them – they’re all cool guys. They’re all so different and they all have something special about them. That made doing all the promotional stuff a lot easier, because we were all having a good time. It’s great that in such an individualistic game you can get along with your opponents so well.

What sticks most vividly in your mind about the late stages of the tournament?

I’ve been asked a lot about the key turning points in the tournament, and for me some of the key moments were when I folded hands. I think I made three very, very good folds and they were the right moves to make at the time. There was a hand against Dennis Phillips which you didn’t see on ESPN. There were 14 players left and I folded my jacks on a 10-high board when he pushed on the turn. He told me he had aces – I don’t know if that’s true, but I guess I have to believe him. That was a very difficult spot. Against Ivan Demidov I got away with losing the minimum after flopping trips. There was a hand against Ylon when I folded my queens as well. That’ll be aired tonight actually, so I may have made a very bad fold – we’ll see. But there were so many moments – it’s all a bit of a blur.

A lot of people say that the Main Event winner becomes poker’s ambassador for the year. Is that a role your comfortable with?

Well, I realise that there’s a lot of responsibility that goes along with winning the title and I’m definitely thinking of ways I can be a good ambassador for poker. A lot of the things you say go out to millions of people and you have to be aware of that. You have to send positive messages. It’s part of your new identity. So I’m aware of the responsibility and will try to conduct myself as best I can. I’ll try to be honest and help advise other poker players on how to become better players.

Are there any particular events coming up that you’re looking forward to playing?

I love all the major events, but I think the event I’m most looking forward to playing is the WSOP Main Event next year. Not only is it the most prestigious tournament there is, there’s also a lot of value in it, a lot of amateurs. I’m also looking forward to visiting some new places on the circuit over the next year.

I don’t really have extravagant tastes. I like to eat and live well; I like to travel but that’s about it. I’m a bad driver (laughs), so I really don’t know what to buy.