Canary Wharf is one of London’s two main financial centers. Here, some of the world’s largest banks as Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, HSBC, JP Morgan, KPMG and Morgan Stanley located. And it is here that we find one of poker’s financial giants, Peter Eastgate. The world champion from 2008 who won just over $9,000,000
World Champion of Poker
There has been spoken and written a lot about Peter Eastgate. It’s one of those things that come with the job when you win $9,000,000 and become world champion of poker. But if you think that life as a multi-millionaire is something with penthouse apartments, great cars and partying with socialites, you will probably be disappointed in Peter’s case. For even if the location of his apartment is in the more fashionable part of London, it’s a former world champion who talks about too few friends in the English capital, too much time spent in the apartment and thinking about a job as a physiotherapist.
In 2004, Peter Eastgate went to high school. And home in Odense, they had not escaped the immersive poker wave, which had its firm grip on all young guys. Peter and his friends were no exception. They were playing home games as if there were no tomorrow, until Peter discovered that the online version of the game was a good way to satisfy his craving.
– Like so many others, I found out that poker on the net was a great form of entertainment. And the first two years I was playing, I actually broke even, until I in 2006 had turned my bankroll up to $ 200,000.
But before that Peter had to overcome a phase where poker didn’t occupy very much of his time.
– I had signed up for the economics study in Aarhus, had moved up there and had gotten me a dorm room. I only stayed for the parties during introduction week…
– I lived like a bum for four months. I barely left dorm and lived on one pizza a day. My internet connection was so bad that I didn’t want to play poker. I was like most other poker players, poorly organized. But I was too lazy to change things. It was not because I was unhappy, I thrived with it, but it was simply laziness.
– Finally, I moved back to Odense, got a decent internet connection and began playing serious poker.
– You could say that it was the beginning of a sabbatical year, which now has lasted for seven years, Peter laughs loudly over the Skype connection, causing the headphones to almost shut off.
The Real Story
And the former world champion is in a good mood, for he also for the first time tells the real story of how he qualified for the WSOP.
– Now it’s so long ago, that I do not think they will come after me, but the story is not quite as you’ve heard it. I started teaching my brother poker in 2007, so we put $ 2,000 into an account for him at Ladbrokes. And on a Friday night, where it had not gone so well and we had lost about half of his roll, he gave up and went out with some friends.
However, I was very dissatisfied with the result, so I stayed at home and played on from his account. Technically, it is illegal, but morally I can still to this day defend it, because I was the only one who subsequently played the account. There was no one else but me and my style of play. Subsequently I found out that it was apparently quite normal among some of the great players to play under different nicks back then.
– I kept winning and moved up in level, and the good run continued. And the rest of the story is familiar to most. There was a cruise to the most raking over half a year, and a WSOP package to the one who raked most in a year – and that was me.
Selling the dream
And what most people do not know is that Peter actually had qualified for the WSOP in 2007, but chose to sell the package instead of playing.
– I lost half my bankroll in 2007, so instead of going to Las Vegas and try me at the WSOP, I decided to sell the package because I could use the money.
And the rest is poker history. Peter Eastgate equaled Phil Hellmuth’s record as the youngest winner of a WSOP Main Event ever, and won the second largest prize in the tournament’s 38-year history. The following year Joe Cada at the age of 21 beat the youth record and attracted the public eye. Peter had at the time become an established part of the high stakes environment and participated in several TV shows, as he traveled around the world and played for his new sponsor.
Then One Day
The whole adventure lasted for 20 months, until Peter suddenly one day in a press release stated that he would put the cards on the shelf indefinitely. One of the reasons he then said, was that he needed to be Peter again.
“I’ve lost the motivation to play poker at the highest level, and I have decided that it is time for me to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. What that is, I do not know yet. Therefore, I’ll take a break indefinitely from tournament poker to focus on the person Peter Eastgate. “
But strongly contributing to the decision was the World Cup finals 2010.
– I lost $ 1.7 mil. on the World Cup. I had played EPT Monte Carlo in April, and after that I was fed up with poker. And out of sheer boredom, I started with sports betting. With hindsight, it was something I should not have done, and when my huge loss was a reality, I decided to take a step back and get an overview.
And today, Peter has had time to think about life. Even before the final table in 2008 he moved to London, and still lives in his apartment in Canary Wharf. When gently asked about what Peter has used the prize money for, and if he has created an ivory tower, he says:
– Well, besides my short career as a sport better, I used some of the money on travel and consumption.
– And in terms of a social life, I don’t have much. This is partly because I still haven’t found so many friends over here and partly caused by the reason that I do not have a job. Of course it is my own fault, I have probably rested a little too much on the laurels. It is of course no excuse, just an observation.
I’m thinking about starting on an education and then get a job. Right now something like physiotherapy appeals to me. That way I would get out, get going and get me a network.
But despite his announced career stop, Peter has not kept his hands completely off the cards.
– I got an invitation to the NBC Heads-up last year. PokerStars invited me and offered to sponsor the experience, so I said yes. But it was an isolated event until the WSOP this year.
– During the spring I got an offer to play at the WSOP Main Event and a $ 5,000 side event, if I would act as host for a poker collective during the tournaments, and I agreed. We lived in a house outside of Las Vegas away from the Strip. It was three really good weeks. In many ways I enjoyed the experience more than my victory in 2008. It is two months ago now, so there hasn’t happened much subsequently.
Explanation on retirement
And Peter’s victory in 2008 might be a part of the explanation on his retirement from poker.
– Nothing beats my victory from 2008 in profit terms. Today I only play sporadically online. I sat and played 10 hours a day for a whole week in a row back in May and after the WSOP I build $1,500 up to $50,000 and threw it all again in one morning … and that’s it.
– Another thing is, that if I have to get seriously started to play again; I have to feel that I have an advantage. It could do that 4-5 years ago, but the times were different. Today, everyone now has a personal coach and a nutritionist, and you have to get up early in the morning to beat them.
– Being a pro is of course a gradual process, where one is imperative to keep up with the rapid growth and fierce competition.
BRM is an individual temperament issue, where certain people with a high risk are trying to hit the stars, while others barely leave their comfort zone. So you’re balancing between potentially increasing your winrate by forcing one’s development, with the risk, that you stumble into the resistance that puts one further back than if you had practiced conservative BRM.
– Personally, I have been risk-loving in a basic setting that if I lost really big I had to resign myself to play lower levels for a longer period to build roll up again. Many times I didn’t make the right decisions whether my score in the game was profitable, but based my game selection on reckless, laissez-faire daring. I could allow myself that on the somewhat softer European sites before I won the world championship, but when I later played high stakes at PokerStars, the variance caught up with me and my superior opponents tore me well deserved in half.
– I’m not particularly mathematically based, but more of a logically and intuitively nature. Poker is basically simple. You just have to figure out your opponent’s tendencies. It is easier said than done, and I can see my friends in the environment evolve constantly. So if I had to come properly back, I first would need to obtain the 3 years I was behind while my opponents still continued evolving enormously, while I tried to catch up the lost ground.
View form the sidelines
And even though Peter no longer plays, many of his acquaintances are still in the environment, and in this way he follows it from the sidelines.
– There are a few Danish poker players here in London that I hang out with once in a while. Lars Bønding just moved here from Las Vegas and in a short while Mads Andersen and girlfriend Vera will also move here. It will be nice to get some more familiar faces over here.
Back to School?
Peter never got started with his studies, but is in no doubt that he would have completed them if poker had not got its claws into him. When he is asked about WPT in Copenhagen in November he replies:
– No, I won’t play it. I’ll probably play EPT in London; although it has been moved to March instead of August … Or in other words, I might be playing the WPT Copenhagen … considering it is in Copenhagen or… yes … I think I will cross that bridge when I come to it.
World champion or not, Peter himself has said it: Poker players do not plan so well.