Eight years ago Peter Eastgate beat Ivan Demidov to win the 2008 Main Event for $9.1 million in dramatic fashion.
The following year the Dane represented PokerStars and played poker tournaments around the world becoming a major face on the poker circuit.
In 2010 Eastgate announced he was retiring from poker at the ripe old age of 24. Since then he’s played a few tournaments but largely stayed away from the poker world.
Peter Eastgate: Bought into 2015 Main Event on a Whim
Peter Eastgate in 2015
Now 29 years old, Eastgate showed up out of the blue to play the 2015 WSOP Main Event and quickly blended into the field.
He was very honest when asked how he’d been spending his time for the last few years.
“I’m sorry to disappoint you but I haven’t really done anything,” laughed Eastgate on the break.
Eastgate, who resides in London, hasn’t been playing much poker and only bought into the Main Event because he was vacationing in Las Vegas with his girlfriend.
That’s the kind of lifestyle you can afford to live when you win $9.1 million in a poker tournament.
“I wasn’t even planning on playing the Main Event but I decided to register last minute,” he said. “I’m enjoying myself. It’s a lot of fun.”
Eastgate Defends Role as World Champ
Peter Eastgate's banner in the Rio.
Over the years the role of the WSOP Main Event champion has been heavily debated. The argument reached its peak when former champ Joe Hachem blamed Jamie Gold and Jerry Yang in an interview last year and said they “destroyed the legacy of the game".
Peter Eastgate after winning the Main Event in 2008.
Eastgate, who's largely been absent from the poker world for the last five years, doesn’t think the world champ really owes the community anything.
“Judging by my actions — I haven’t really promoted poker — I would like to defend that,” he said.
“You’re free to do whatever you want. Just because you won the Main Event doesn’t mean you have to play poker. You can just quit the game if you want, you didn’t sign anything.”
While Eastgate will always have love the Main Event don’t expect to see him playing a full time schedule any time soon.
“I don’t think I’m ever going to be a professional again,” he said.
“If you’re out of the game for a number of years it’s hard to get back into it,” he said. “The competition is so much more fiercer these days.”
Eastgate Doubtful He'd Turn Pro Now
The Peter Eastgate banner that hangs in the Rio.
Eastgate admits if he had been born 10 years later he’s not really sure he would have become a professional poker player in the first place.
“I’m not a very good player compared to the field these days so I don’t believe there’s a lot of value in it for me,” he said.
The poker industry has changed a great deal since Eastgate won in 2008 and one of the biggest changes came this year when the WSOP decided to flatten the prize pool.
It means that 1,000 players will get paid — the most ever — but it also severely limits the chance of anyone winning close to the $9.1 million Eastgate locked up.
When asked about the change Eastgate shrugged it off.
“I like steeper prize pools but if you make the final table you’re happy with scoring $7.6 million,” said.
As far as Eastgate goes it seems unlikely we’ll see much of him at the WSOP anymore but time and time again poker pros have been drawn back by the siren call of huge prize pools and thrilling action.
Just don’t count on it.