What Ever Happened To Peter Eastgate?
Back in 2008, Peter Eastgate took the entire poker world by surprise when he took down the WSOP Main Event, becoming the youngest player in history to do so at the time. He was only 22 when he triumphed in the 6,844-strong field, banking $9.1 million.
Young Eastgate’s story was the stuff that dreams were made of.
He was only at the start of his poker journey, and he had already achieved more than most players manage in their entire careers.
The poker media was ecstatic. Everybody expected the young champion to go full throttle moving forward, traveling the world to play cash games and tournaments.
In addition to the money won, Eastgate probably had many sponsorship opportunities, which would allow him to live the good life.
After all, he was the youngest WSOP Main Event winner, and that had to count for something.
But the young Dane never really fell into his role.
He gave it a try for a couple of years, playing some tournaments and appearing on a few poker shows, but it was pretty clear his heart just wasn’t in it.
He had a few more memorable results after the Main Event, the most notable one being his second-place finish in the EPT London Main Event in 2009, good for around $850,000.
But, as time went by, he started to play less and less, and by 2013, he was pretty much gone from the poker circuit.
So, what ever happened to Peter Eastgate, the young Dane who made the entire poker world buzz with excitement in 2008?
Did he go bust, has he been playing in some private games away from the public eye, or has he substituted poker with something else?
Peter Eastgate: An Accidental Pro?
Most of those who get lucky enough to win the Main Event are over the moon because of all the opportunities that come with the title, but not Eastgate.
He never really cared too much about being an ambassador for the game and didn’t feel like it was his duty just because he happened to win in 2008.
Several years later, in one of his interviews, Eastgate explained he didn’t feel like he owed anything to anyone.
It’s not like there is some contractual obligation for Main Event winners to promote the game. They’re free to do with their time and their money as they like.
And Peter Eastgate chose soon after his big win that being a full-time pro wasn’t his dream.
He was signed by PokerStars and spent a couple of years traveling the circuit and playing in some of the major tournaments around the globe.
He had a few decent scores after the Main, as his lifetime winnings now stand at $11.1 million.
But, as 2010 rolled out, Peter Eastgate was nowhere to be found.
He played in a few events earlier in the year, but he wasn’t there for the World Series.
Later in 2010, the Dane came out with an official statement that he was retiring from poker. The news came as quite a shock, especially given the fact he’d only been around for a few years and was still in his prime.
It’s not that unusual for poker pros to announce their “retirement,” only to come back to the felt a couple of years later, but Eastgate seemed pretty determined.
Auctioning Away His Main Event Bracelet
Shortly after announcing his intention to quit poker, Eastgate did something that caused a lot of turmoil among fellow players and fans alike.
He put his Main Event bracelet up for auction on eBay.
The 2008 champ wasn’t looking to make any money from this transaction. All proceeds were going to the charity, but many still characterized this move as disrespectful.
The Main Event bracelet is probably the most coveted piece of poker jewelry, and for someone to just sell it without a huge reason was confusing, to say the least.
When the bracelet appeared on eBay, Tony G was one of the well-known pros who wanted to get their hands on it.
Of course, keeping up with his persona, Tony said he wanted to buy Eastgate’s bracelet so he could use it as a collar for his dog.
The G-man didn’t get his wish in the end. The bracelet was sold to an unknown bidder who paid $147,500 for it.
The money went to UNICEF, so Eastgate’s action could hardly be described as selfish.
But many still couldn’t get over the act itself.
Commenting on the news, Scotty Nguyen, another WSOP Main Event winner, said that he’d never sell his bracelet as it was virtually priceless to him.
In the end, though, despite all the outrage, the bracelet was Eastgate’s to do with as he liked.
He won it fair and square, and if he didn’t hold it in as high regard as other winners, that’s his prerogative.
Eastgate played a few more events after 2010, including a $1,500 WSOP tournament where he came close to winning another bracelet but ended up busting in 4th place.
But, it was pretty clear that the Dane was done with his career as a professional poker player by that time.
Peter Eastgate’s Life After Poker
Having disappeared from the public eye, the poker world didn’t have much information about Peter Eastgate’s whereabouts or plans.
After some time, it was safe to assume that most people stopped caring and it seems that was the way Eastgate preferred things to be.
However, he did share some of the details of his post-poker life in a few rare interviews, explaining to some degree his reasons for leaving poker.
In 2015, Eastgate registered for the Main Event, and his presence piqued the poker media’s interest.
They thought that the former champ might be on the comeback trail. But, it soon turned out it was a fluke.
The Dane was just in Las Vegas for a vacation and decided to register the Main at the last moment.
During one of the interviews from that period, he explained that he never felt that he owed anything to the poker community in general.
He was lucky enough to win the Main Event in 2008, but he just didn’t see himself in a poker ambassador’s role.
He is also rather humble in many ways.
Eastgate says that he was lucky to be at the right place and at the right time but that he doesn’t believe he was in any way predetermined to win.
Describing his skills and intelligence as average, he believes he got extremely lucky to achieve what he had achieved.
In October of the same year, Peter Eastgate visited Georgia’s capital Tbilisi to present the Georgian version of CardPlayer Magazine.
During this visit, Eastgate revealed more details about why he decided to exit poker and what his life has been like after that.
Living A Modest, But Comfortable Life
In 2013, Peter Eastgate decided he was finally done with poker and moved back to Denmark from London.
He tried studying biomedicine for a while, but it just wasn’t for him, so he dropped out despite being passionate about the subject.
After that, he was trying to find a new passion, and, according to his interview in 2015, he was still looking at the time.
He also revealed that when he first started with poker, he was fairly certain this would be something he’d spend the rest of his life doing as he enjoyed the game a lot.
But, with time, that passion disappeared.
The young champion grew tired of his mood being constantly affected by how well he was doing at the tables.
Swings are harsh in poker, especially if you play at the high stakes, and Eastgate was no stranger to nosebleeds, neither live nor online.
He also developed a passion for other forms of gambling, primarily sports betting, which ended up costing him a lot of money.
He lost several million while betting on sports, which made him realize that he just couldn’t handle spending too much time in the gambling environment.
As the Main Event winner, Eastgate could have easily played any tournaments he wanted for free. He didn’t lack sponsorship opportunities.
But, deep down, he understood that his future would be very uncertain if he didn’t quit.
So, he pulled the plug on all of it: poker, gambling, and everything the lifestyle brought with it.
He still had a nice chunk of his Main Event win tucked away, so he was financially in a good spot.
Perhaps it wouldn’t be enough for everyone, but Eastgate seems to enjoy living a simple life without extravagance.
As far as his interest in poker is concerned, the Dane says it’s very marginal.
This isn’t just because he’s no longer a part of that world but also because the numbers you get to see aren’t really indicative of how well someone is doing.
It’s impossible to say how big of a piece a particular player has of themselves, and you have no idea of what their bankroll actually is.
Peter Eastgate in Recent Years: Every Day Is Sunday
Eastgate’s most recent interview for a poker media outlet was in 2018 when he talked to ESPN.
In this interview, he repeated some of the things he’d already explained a few years ago and offered some additional answers to “burning” questions.
One such question was, of course, about his decision to sell the bracelet.
He told ESPN that he was rather confused by the reaction from the poker community.
His decision to put the bracelet up for the auction wasn’t an attempt to show disrespect for the game. For him, it was just a trophy that was sitting in a drawer and that he no longer had the use for.
And, although Eastgate didn’t talk about it explicitly, perhaps it was an important step towards cutting ties with the gambling world, which was something he realized he had to do.
With enough money to live the rest of his days (in his own words), he decided to take up a simple, quiet lifestyle in Denmark, spending time taking long walks and hanging out with friends.
He says that his every day is pretty much like Sunday, and he’s not very productive.
This may sound very boring or depressing to some, but the 2008 Main Event champ seems very happy with his current arrangements.
It’s a simple lifestyle that he enjoys and that makes him happy, which is ultimately the only thing that matters.
He’s not planning to spend the rest of his life “doing nothing,” but he’s satisfied for the time being and grateful for what poker gave him, even if it may not look that way to some.
What If…? – The Unfinished Story Of Peter Eastgate
The number of poker players out there who dream of achieving what Eastgate had achieved during his relatively short career is probably in tens of thousands.
Having a huge bankroll, lucrative sponsorship deals, and the freedom to travel the world and play poker sounds like a dream come true.
And, in many ways, it is.
What more could you ask for as a poker player?
But Eastgate’s story also has a few details hinting at the other side of this Cinderella story, the side that’s not nearly as bright or cheerful.
If he’d decided to stick around, what would have become of Peter Eastgate?
Perhaps a few more tournament wins along the way, but at what cost? Could he fight off other demons that were haunting him?
From everything he said in later interviews, it seems like he made the best choice.
Some players and fans didn’t think it was a cool thing to do, but even professional players have a life away from the felt.
If Eastgate felt that being around poker and gambling was making him miserable, he only had one real option, and that option was to quit.
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Lead image: by Isaac Brekken via ESPN