The 40th Annual World Series of Poker is only weeks away. Between now and the start of the Main Event BluffMagazine.com will be presenting the 40 Greatest Champions in WSOP history exclusively on WorldSeriesofPoker.com.
The newest and youngest player to make the list is 2008 Main Event Champion Peter Eastgate. He became the youngest Main Event champ in history at 22 years old, unseating Phil Hellmuth who was 24 at the time of his win. Eastgate skyrocketed near the top of the all-time money winners at the WSOP when he banked the $9 million plus first prize.
Eastgate beat Ivan Demidov in perhaps the best heads-up battle for the title in recent history, taking 4 hours and 175 hands. The previously unknown Danish pro upset crowd favorite Dennis Phillips and odds-on favorite Demidov after nearly a four month break between the tenth place elimination and the final table. The final table became known as the “November 9.” The final table became the longest in history taking 274 hands and over 15 hours to complete.
Many poker purists were skeptical about the long break and believed it would radically change the final table. Eastgate said of the break, “It definitely changed the game, that’s for sure. People played differently to how they would have three months ago… I think some of the other guys were worried about getting gout of the ‘zone’ – losing the momentum they had three months ago.” He continued, “I think I was able to take advantage of that.”
Like a lot of young online pros, Eastgate dropped out of college in Denmark to focus on playing full time. He found moderate success in live tournaments previous to his title, but most his experience in poker have come from the virtual felt.
Eastgate’s calm and quiet demeanor stands in stark contrast to his aggressive play. His calm, quiet reaction when he tabled his winning hand is most telling about his personality. While many young online pros would have embarrassed themselves with wild celebrations, Eastgate handled winning the same way he handled losing; with quiet respect.
Eastgate is the most promising of young poker pros and only time will tell how many more bracelets he adds to his collection.