Top 5 Poker Stories of 2010: Peter Eastgate Retires

Peter Eastgate
'It was never my goal to spend the rest of my life as a professional poker player.'

It was another big year for the game of poker in 2010 and the PokerListings news team was there to document it all.

From highs like Jonathan Duhamel's 2010 WSOP Main Event win to lows like Amir Vahedi's untimely passing, the year was filled with stories big and small.

As has become tradition, PokerListings will spend the final week of 2010 counting down the top five stories of the year the way only we can - With the thoughts, words and opinions of the protagonists.

We begin today with Peter Eastgate's retirement at Number 5:

It appeared as though a star was born in the early morning hours of Tuesday Nov. 11, 2008.

22-year-old Peter Eastgate turned a wheel and it held against Ivan Demidov's two pair making him the youngest World Series of Poker Main Event champion in history.

Eastgate collected the massive $9,152,416 first-place prize and with it all the spoils bestowed upon the winner of poker's most prestigious title.

Wearing the PokerStars patch meant a lucrative sponsorship deal that would see him travel the globe representing the brand and the game itself.

The fresh faced Dane was suddenly thrust among poker's elite and embodied a younger, smarter and more marketable generation of poker player.

But just two years on, he would throw it all away, giving the game and those who helped shape it, nothing but the middle finger.

Eastgate's reign as World Champion was a typical one for the post-boom era.

He threw around some cash in the high-stakes games online, played major tournaments under the PokerStars banner all over the world and acted as a true ambassador for the game, affably agreeing to just about every interview and photo op asked of him.

He even proved the win was no fluke, making 18th at EPT London a month later and booking a $343,000 score by winning a $5k side event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January 2009.

He made a deep run in defense of his title the very next summer, making 78th at the 2009 WSOP Main Event, and followed that up with a runner-up finish at EPT London for a whopping $843,734 in October.

2010 started out looking like another big year for poker's newest and brightest star with a final table appearance at EPT Deauville and a fifth-place finish in the made-for-TV NBC National Heads-Up Championship.

But by the time the 2010 WSOP rolled around, Eastgate was nowhere to be found.

Absent from the preliminary bracelet events, word came down just before the start of the Main Event that Eastgate, at just 24-years-old, was retiring from the game of poker.

“When I started playing poker for a living, it was never my goal to spend the rest of my life as a professional poker player. My goal was to become financially independent,” he said at the time. “I achieved that by winning the WSOP Main Event in 2008.”

Feeling that he'd lost his drive and passion for the game, the initial response from sponsor and online poker giant PokerStars was accepting.

“Poker is about determination and excitement, and if Peter lacks this in his game, the right decision is to take a break,” a statement read. “Peter has played amongst world champions and he has carried his title in the most admirable fashion.”

And while Eastgate gave no indication as to what his future plans were, it appeared the rest of the poker world was shocked, but just as accepting of his wishes.

However, in the fall, as a new crop of November Niners chasing poker's ultimate dream of a WSOP Main Event title were being introduced to the world, Eastgate said his final goodbye to the game in what appeared to be a bit of a kick in the teeth.

He put his 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event bracelet up for auction on eBay, and although it was being sold to raise money for the UNICEF childrens' charity, ultimately, he was saying that the one thing every poker player covets the most, was of no value to him at all.

After a tactless and bracelet-less Tony G made some noise about buying it to use as a collar for his dog, the bracelet sold to an unknown bidder for $147,500.

But while the bracelet may have raised a princely sum, the Prince of Poker says no amount of cash could make him sell his WSOP Championship bracelet and disrespect the game the way Eastgate has.

"It's worth more than money to me baby," said Scotty Nguyen, who proudly wears the bracelet he earned winning the 1998 WSOP Main Event at major tournaments and on special occasions. "If he don't want nothing to do with us, then Scotty don't want nothing to do with him. I have nothing to say to him at all."

While it appears that Eastgate doesn't care about his legacy, he will be remembered by the poker world.

For now, he is a Main Event champion and a young man who retired from the game just two years later, tossing away the one symbol of his historic achievement and ultimately earning the fifth spot on PokerListings' Top Five Stories of 2010.


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About Martin Derbyshire

Martin grew up around gaming culture spending a good portion of his high school years hustling pool in billiard halls around the City of Toronto. Saturday nights meant mixed poker games in smoky basements with the boys and a life-long love for the game ensued. His interest in the world of high stakes poker was spurred on by the success of a player Martin went to high school with who played snooker in the same pool halls around the city. That player is none other than Daniel Negreanu.

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applebook 2013-11-16 18:26:15

Good for him! Most players should be in it for the money. Once you make it, then get out and get on with life.

Dom 2010-12-31 15:29:56

The author of the article can say he gave the middle finger because he is "entitled". It is so obvious that everyone who is commenting doesn't play for a living. I have been grinding for 5 years and gone broke many times, but what keep me from coming back to the game is the passion. Obviously, people who never played the main event say the main event is a lottery are people just by watching it in ESPN. Explain how Phil Ivey finished 23rd in 2002, 10th in 2003, 20th in 2005 and 7th in 2009. Maybe if you actually play in the Main Event, you know that in the early stages that the stacks are so deep and blinds raise like an hour, but obviously you wouldn't know that.

You're so wrong 2010-12-31 14:55:11

By telling everybody that Eastgate gave poker " the finger" that's an opinion you should have kept to yourself. He is entitled to do whatever he chooses to do with his life. When you win something as prestigious as the WSOP at such a young age what else can you aspire to do? For all you know he may be doing something to help others in the world. To me that would be a bigger than being an ambassador to poker.

lionio 2010-12-30 18:54:38

I think peter did the right thing for himself he realized he is not a gambler like other true poker players. But also its a disgrace because he only been playing for 2 years after he won and he made the true poker players feel like u disrespecting our sport

BIG JOHN 2010-12-30 06:27:07

Anyone who thinks selling his bracelet to raise money for charity is "disrespecting" the game of poker he or she needs to get over themselves. Everyone who claims the bracelet means more than money already has enough money to be financially secure. I have NEVER seen anyone on a limited bankroll say they would give back their first million dollar payday for a piece of jewelery. As far as I am concerned, poker has "disrespected" itself by turning the Main Event into a circus. You call it the MAIN EVENT, the biggest, most prestigeous tournament in poker yet entries are as easy to obtain as a christmas grab bag gift or a game show prize? Most professionals now compare it to a lottery. That's your MAIN EVENT? A LOTTERY? Leave the kid alone. The kid made his money and he's out. I'd do the same thing. He's 24. You expect him to spend the next 60 years of his life living up to WHAT YOU WANT HIM TO BE? Get over yourself. Cheers to you Peter, may your future bring you as much success as poker has for you.

Paul 2010-12-29 01:31:49

Fortunes are won and lost on the turn of a card and Peter Eastgate is smart and wise enough to consider his win a very fortunate event indeed and understand that taking the money and running is the best option. Go go go go Peter!!!

Stephen 2010-12-28 18:59:46

Good Luck to Peter Eastgate - why should he be lured into a lifetime of gambling - i think the fact he can move on from this lifestyle shoudl be admired - the ones that who bemoan him that right who go onto lose all their money will be the ones wishing they took a leaf out of his book.