Nov. 9: Eastgate to carry Danish torch

Peter Eastgate

This is the fifth in a nine-part series taking a look at the players set to battle at the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event final table in November.Peter Eastgate, who has potential to take the youngest Main Event winner title, is the subject of this round.

It might just be time for the Danish to break their WSOP Main Event donut.

Peter Eastgate is from Odense, Denmark and at just 22 years old is already one of the country's most winning players. Known in the online world as "Isser," he's got a reputation for aggressive play.

He knocked out several prominent players from the tournament on his march to Nov. 9, including media darling Tiffany Michelle.

"Yeah, I have nightmares about it, but what are you going to do?" said Michelle of the hand that knocked her from the tournament.

In that hand Eastgate called Michelle's all-in with an ace on the board. Michelle revealed A-J and Eastgate turned over a dominant A-A.

"Yep, I knocked her out," said Eastgate. "It was nothing personal."

Eastgate is one of two players at the Nov. 9 final table who could break Phil Hellmuth's record as the youngest player ever to win the World Series of Poker Main Event. But he doesn't seem too concerned about that.

He told media that age is irrelevant and winning the Main Event would be absolutely incredible no matter what your age.

Leading up to the Nov. 9 WSOP final table, Eastgate has upped his live play, and has at least one very respectable result for his efforts. That came in the European Poker Tour London main event, where he took $28,606 for an 18th-place finish.

Sure, it's not like Eastgate wound up at the final table of the WSOPE, as did his Nov. 9 tablemate Ivan Demidov, but it was a pretty deep run in a tournament stacked with famous pros such as Daniel Negreanu, Gus Hansen and Barry Greenstein.

In that tournament Eastgate got caught trying to steal a pot from Michael Martin when he raised holding just K 6 with Martin wielding pocket ladies. With the board revealing A T 6 5 2, Eastgate was unceremoniously sent on his way. Martin went on to win the entire event and the huge £1 million first-place prize.

You would think that the young Dane left that experience a little wiser and at least slightly more prepared for the Nov. 9 final table. However, Eastgate says that despite the EPT result, his play leading up to the final table has not gone that well.

"I have been playing in a couple of live tournaments since the final table was decided," said Eastgate. "That has been going pretty badly."

Like many of the top young players in the game, Eastgate got his start in poker by playing online cash games. He's a regular at PokerStars and prefers short-handed and heads-up play, which should help him if he wades through a few eliminations.

"Cash games are far more complex and the decisions you face in tournaments are far easier, I believe. Still tournaments are not easy. You have to have good timing."

Peter Eastgate
Getting some practice in at the WSOP Europe Main Event.

For his part, Eastgate stayed very patient on his run through the huge WSOP Main Event field, picking his spots and working them to full advantage even as he got closer to the final table.

"When things went bad at [other big] tournaments I got a bit out of balance," said Eastgate. "I've been adjusting to [2008 WSOP Main Event] and playing my A game."

With only 10 players left and nobody wanting to be the bubble boy, Eastgate wound up markedly improving his stack with some smart play. He started play at $10.5 million in chips and wound up working that to more than $18 million.

"I started the 10-handed table at $10.5 million and ended up with about $18 million," said Eastgate. "I picked up some hands. There was one big pot where I raised under the gun with aces and got three callers. The flop came down 3-5-5 and I led out. I got one caller and the turn was a six. We both checked it and I bet really big when a jack hit the river. I got an insta-call and my aces were good."

Eastgate will start the Nov. 9 event with the fourth-largest chip stack ($18,375,000), but he knows there will be plenty of pressure to deal with regardless of what his stack looks like. To deal with that he says he's go to have his head right more than anything else.

"[I will prepare for Nov. 9] by studying the ESPN videos and preparing mentally for this big pressure," said Eastgate. "I will take [the spotlight] as it comes. I don't know what to expect."

As for getting a coach, he seems to think his base of friends and playing partners will be the most help in preparing himself. If he's right, we could be witnessing the next generation of poker superstar in the making.

"I will try to live a normal life as I did before, try to keep my feet on the ground," said Eastgate. "If I could come first it would probably change my life for good. I don't know how but it would change my life for good."

As for the restart, Eastgate says he can deal with it; he doesn't care too much about who's to his left when the seat positions are drawn, because he doesn't really fear any one of the players more than another.

"I will just try and play my game. Hopefully that will be enough."

Stay tuned for the next installment of the November Nine series on Saturday.

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