Peter Eastgate was the youngest player at the 2008 WSOP Main Event final table and just the second Dane to ever make the final table.
With a win he could possibly best Phil Hellmuth as the youngest player ever to become World Champion.
Heavy stuff for a young gun of 22. But Peter Eastgate handled it like a pro and rolled to the biggest title in poker, supplanting Hellmuth (at least until Joe Cada outdid him a year later) as the youngest WSOP champ ever.
All told he battled his way through a field of about 6,800 players to earn a $9,152,416 payday.
What came after, though, was not all wine and roses.
Peter Eastgate's Early Poker Career
Despite being the youngest person at that final table Eastgate wasn't exactly a babe in the woods when it came to poker.
One of the new generation of poker players who plied their trade in obscurity online, Eastgate had actually been a pro online since 2005 where he specialized in short-handed and heads-up high-limit cash games at the $200/$400 level.
He was widely regarded as one of the top Internet pros in Denmark at the time and had built up a reputation for his skills on several European poker sites.
A high-school graduate who traded a future in college to ply his trade at the felt Eastgate got his start in poker with a deposit at an online poker room. He managed to break even during his first year of play and shortly after made his first real cash. This allowed him to start building his bankroll and he soon turned pro.
One thing led to another and in 2008 he found himself buying in to the WSOP Main Event with $10,000 cash and turning it all the way into a World Championship. As he didn't have any backers, that means he took home the full share of the first-place prize - possibly the most ever taken home by a WSOP Main Event winner.
Given how highly skilled and respected a player he is, you expected to hear Peter Eastgate's name at final tables long after that final table played out. And at first, that's exactly what happened.
After his WSOP Main Event win Eastgate hit the tournament circuit and racked up cashes on the EPT and in the PCA Main Event, won a $5,000 side event for $343,000 and came second at EPT London for £530,000.
Peter Eastgate then finished 78th in the 2009 WSOP Main Event, another remarkable run. By 2010 Eastgate had also finished 5th in the NBC National Heads-Up Championship but had started to burn out on poker.
In July of that year he surprised the poker world when he announced his first "retirement" from poker - a period which lasted for 8 months.
WSOP Bracelet Auctioned Off on eBay for UNICEF
As part of his retirement Peter Eastgate also decided to auction of his gold championship bracelet for charity.
He wasn't the first to put a WSOP gold bracelet on eBay but his intentions might have been the best as he intended to donate all of the sale price to UNICEF.
By the time the bidding was done the bracelet had sold for $147,500.
Back in the Game
Eastgate returned to the game in 2011 but only played sporadically at live events over the next few years with the odd cash here and there. He also didn't feel an obligation to continue being a "spokesperson" for poker, so to speak, as many WSOP Champions are expected to be.
As he told PokerListings.com in an interview in 2015 when he spontaneously showed up to play the 2015 WSOP Main Event:
“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.”
He also said he didn't expect to return to the game as a professional ever again:
“If you’re out of the game for a number of years it’s hard to get back into it,” he said.
Independently Wealthy for Life
Despite Eastgate's substantial income from his big win he says he lacked the motivation to continue playing poker at high stakes.
After losing his enthusiasm for poker he even made a failed attempt to earn a bio-medicine degree back in Denmark in 2013 but failed his exams. In 2017 he returned to school after 3.5 years of what he called "drifting around."
He says he made some bad decisions and lost some of his money but has more than enough to live "for the next 70 or 80 years."
"I was an addict, a degenerate gambler," he told PokerListings in a 2016 interview, "but at some point I just got fed up.
"I consider myself very lucky. I could have gone on a big downswing and lost a large part of my winnings, but that never happened. My intelligence is probably average and I have nothing to tell me that I was predetermined to win such an amount of money.
"I was just born at the right time and went into the game at the right time."
Peter Eastgate on High Stakes Poker
One of the perks of Eastgate's high profile following his WSOP win was an invitation to play on the seminal High Stakes Poker TV show.
A flagship show on the Game Show Network High Stakes Poker was home to some of the game's biggest and most famous players including Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu and Barry Greenstein.
It later came to feature some of poker's most exciting young guns including Tom "durrrr" Dwan, a player Eastgate was involved in a memorable hand with.
After Greenstein raised with AA in early position Dwan called behind with QcTc. All six other players at the table, including Eastgate with 4h2d.
On a flop of Td2c2s Greenstein bet $10,000 and Dwan raised to $37,300. Eastgate and Greenstein called. On the 7d turn Eastgate checked his trip deuces and Greenstein check also.