Peter Eastgate Becomes Youngest Ever WSOP Main Event Winner
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
The three month wait had finally finished. The now famously named 'November Nine' returned to the Rio Casino in Las Vegas to play out the richest final table of the poker year. In the end the bracelet and $9m went to Denmark as Peter Eastgate took one record from Phil Hellmuth which the Poker Brat will be powerless to regain.
At the start of play it was Dennis Philips who had the chip lead, with Eastgate positioned not too far behind. The action started slowly as the players were seemingly waiting for short-stack Kelly Kim to go bust before making any significant moves. While Ylon Schwartz and Ivan Demidov exploited this, one man who didn't do so well was Dennis Phillips, who soon lost the chip lead to the young Russian.
Ivan Demidov (copyright: Image Masters DPI)
The first elimination came in spectacular fashion, and with a bad beat that would set the trend for a vicious final table. It wasn't Kim who exited first though but rather Craig Marquis, who had his pocket sevens cruelly beated by Scott Montgomery's A-Q on a T-A-7-J-K board. Kelly Kim was out the very next when most of his chips were posted in the big blind.
Next out was one of the men many felt would win, David 'Chino' Rheem. The most experienced of the final nine, Rheem struggled to get much going at the final table, and he finally decided to take a stand against Eastgate with A-K. His hand was in great shape after Eastgate called a 27% underdog with A-Q, but when the door card showed us a lady, Rheem had to catch a king or running straight cards to stay in the tournament. THe turn and river bricked out, and Rheem was left to rue a bad beat which would hurt here more than at any other poker table in the world.
Darus Suharto was the man many identified as the tightest player of the nine, although he might have been over-using his table image somewhat here. He was caught doing just that in his final hand of the WSOP when he three-bet his whole stack with A-8, only to be called by Scott Montgomery's dominating A-Q. Montgomery ended up making the nut flush as one Canadian eliminated the other.
If Montgomery had been lucky to eliminate Marquis at the top of the evening, he would suffer a beat which would make Rheem's seem insignificant. Getting his money in badly preflop with A-3 against the pocket sixes of Peter Eastgate doesn't set up the usual bad-beat story, but when the flop came A-Q-4, the Rio began to wonder if Montgomery's white-hot run would ever stop. The turn brought another ace and a declaration from Dennis Phillips that he had passed a six. If so, the case six which came on the river would have been even more heart-breaking for the man from Perth, Ontario. As it stood, he was eliminated in 5th place.
Eastgate continued his surge when he eliminated the impressive Ylon Schwartz in fourth place. Slow playing his full-house on the river, Eastgate induced a bluff from the former chess pro in a bid to blow the Dane off his hand. The move might have worked if Eastgate didn't have such a monster, and instead it was Schwartz who had to settle with $3,774,974.
The final two were decided in the small hours of the Vegas morning, as Dennis Phillips finally succumbed to the sheer aggression of Eastgate and Demidov. The wily old man of the table had sat back as Eastgate and Demidov traded pots for too long, and decided that it would be time to make his final stand on a rainbow flop of J-4-3. Phillips check-raised for his entire stack in a move similar to Schwartz, but again Eastgate had nailed the flop, flopping bottom set against Phillip's airball Tc-9c. Two perfect cards would be needed on the turn and river, but the suspense was over as the harmless As came on the turn.
Heads-up for the bracelet and the money. (copyright: Image Masters DPI)
One more suspension of play was called as Eastgate and Demidov returned late on Monday evening to play out the heads-up match. Eastgate held a chip lead of 80.3m vs Demidov's 56.6m, but the night would still have twists and turns aplenty over the 105 hand session. After just a dozen hands, Demidov had wrestled the chip lead from Eastgate, largely due to a chunky pot where Ivan rivered two pair on a K-J-6-5-3 board. The lead was about 10m, and with the blinds at 400k/800k, it was no surprise to see the gap close once again shortly after.
Eastgate then regained the chip lead he brought to the heads-up session when he made a great bet with a rivered pair of nines in a strangely played pot. Peter Eastgate limped the small blind and Ivan Demidov checked the big blind. The flop of 8h-3-2 saw Demidov check and a very fast bet from Eastgate of 1m. Demidov called, and the turn 5c saw both players quickly check. The river 9d suited Eastgate's Jd-9h perfectly, betting 2.675m. Demidov dwelled for around a minute before calling. The rivered pair of nines was good enough to rake in the pot, and Demidov had it all to do once again.
Then came the hand which might have given us a Russian champion. As the final table had proved all along, there was drama to be had, and this hand could be considered the moment when Demidov almost won the Main Event. Eastgate limped his button, while Demidov checked the big blind. The flop came 5d-7h-4d, and Demidov check-raised Eastgate's flop bet from 1.25m to an additional 2.125m. Eastgate flat called.
The turn is the 8h, and Demidov once again checks. Eastgate sensed some kind of weakness so fired another shell of 4.25m into the pot. The Russian sunk into thought before raising to a staggering 14m. The Dane looked pensive, asking Demidov to "show me the way" before eventually calling a minute later.
The river card is the 3d, completing the possible flush draw as well as a possible straight with any six. The action slows down, and Demidov shows how his hand went from the nuts, to solid, to horrible as his flopped nut straight turned into a second-nut one, before finally being slowed down by the possible flush. Eastgate turned over 6h-4c for flopped bottom pair and an open-ended straight draw. Checking those match-ups on the various streets show you just how unlucky Demidov was to not win a massive pot.
Odds to win the key pot:
Preflop: Demidov 62.6% v 23.65% Eastgate, 6.87% for a chop.
Flop: Demidov 84.5% v 2.42% Eastgate, 6.52% for a chop.
Turn: Split pot.
From there, it seemed that Eastgate was simply running too good and that this final table was his. So it proved, as he first moved over the 100m mark after making a good call when Demidov bet 7m on the river with ace high, behind Eastgate's second pair.
Demidov hung on for another forty hands or so, before he took one more crucial blow when Eastgate took down a 18m pot with a turned boat. The last hand came just three hands later, and again Eastgate managed to hit the key cards at the right time. In an unraised pot the flop came 2d-Ks-3h. Eastgate is check-called for 1.25m on the flop and both players see the turn card, the 4c. The card improved Demidov's hand to two pair, as he had 4-2 in the big blind. Demidov check-raised for half his stack on the turn, putting 6m into the middle. Eastgate calls, and river is 7s. Demidov moves in, Eastgate snap calls and tables Ad-5s for the gutshot wheel which got there as Ivan turned the two pair.
So it's done. Hellmuth's record is no more, and we have the youngest ever winner of the WSOP Main Event. Even moments after the $9m win and his entry into the poker annals, Eastgate remained stoic and calm, finally breaking out into a smile after lifting two bricks of cash above his head. The bracelet was his moments after, and for the next twelve months Peter Eastgate will be the man the poker world has as their poker champion.
Ivan Demidov as well has to be given huge credit. Third in London, second in Las Vegas: we told you the Russians are coming, and this man is one who will have a huge future in poker, we're sure.
Peter Eastgate (copyright: ImageMasters DPI)