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Peter Eastgate Wins the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event

by Ryan Lucchesi |  Published: Dec 31, 2008


Peter Eastgate wins the 2008 WSOP main eventPart I: The "November Nine" Becomes the Final Two

The November Nine finally returned to play the final table of the 2008 World Series of Poker main event on Nov. 9, 2008. The 117-day pause in action made this final table one of the most anticipated events in poker history. The Penn and Teller Theater at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino was the setting for this spectacle, and it was packed with fans and poker players, but primarily the family and friends of each player seated at the final table (most notably Dennis Phillips, who needed 359 tickets to accommodate the group he brought from St. Louis, Missouri). Each player brought a little something to the table in the form of a cheering section. They came in loud and continued to cheer on their individual players late into the night as they inched closer to winning more than $9 million and poker immortality.

Here were the chip counts at the start of play:

Seat 1: Dennis Phillips 26,295,000 Account Manager (St. Louis, Missouri)
Seat 2:
Craig Marquis
10,210,000 College Student (Arlington, Texas)
Seat 3:
Ylon Schwartz
12,525,000 Professional Poker Player (Brooklyn, New York)
Seat 4:
Scott Montgomery
19,690,000 Professional Poker Player (Perth, Ontario, Canada)
Seat 5:
Darus Suharto
12,520,000 Accountant (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Seat 6:
David "Chino" Rheem
10,230,000 Professional Poker Player (Los Angeles, California)
Seat 7:
Ivan Demidov
24,400,000 Professional Poker Player (Moscow, Russia)
Seat 8:
Kelly Kim
2,620,000 Professional Poker Player (Whittier, California)
Seat 9:
Peter Eastgate
18,375,000 Professional Poker Player (Odense, Denmark)

Craig Marquis eliminated in ninthKelly Kim eliminated in eighth
Kim moved all in on the very first hand of play, and picked up the blinds and antes that he sorely needed to sustain his short stack. Other than that early action, though, the players' first hour at the final table was an exercise in getting rid of the rust that had built up during their prolonged hiatus. During that time, each player had taken a different approach to the break. Some had chosen to spend as much time at the poker table as possible, like Scott Montgomery, who played in almost every major poker tournament during the interim, while others remained in the shadows, like Darus Suharto, who returned to his accounting job during the time off. One of the November Nine even found success at another WSOP final table between July and November. Ivan Demidov finished in third place in the £10,000 no-limit hold'em main event of the WSOP Europe in early October to win £334,850. While his opponents were shaking the lead out of their poker step early at the Rio, Demidov was in confident form as he quickly stole the chip lead from Phillips and then increased it to pace the field.

Ivan Demidov Takes a Huge Lead

Hand No. 18
Blinds/Antes: 150,000-300,000 with a 40,000 ante
Ivan Demidov's Starting Stack: 22,380,000
Dennis Phillips' Starting Stack: 21,645,000
Ivan Demidov raised to 1.025 million preflop from the button after Dennis Phillips limped in from under the gun, and then Phillips reraised to 3.525 million. Demidov reraised to 8.225 million, and Phillips made the call after about 30 seconds of deliberation. The flop was dealt J 10 8 and Phillips bet 4.5 million. Demidov decided to move all in, and Phillips went into the tank. He eventually mucked, and Demidov won the pot to increase his chip lead.
Demidov's chip stack after the hand: 35,875,000
Phillips' chip stack after the hand: 8,880,000

Many players doubled up during the first few hours at the table, including Kim, Suharto, and Rheem, and after he tangled with Demidov, even Phillips had to double up to save his tournament life. The eliminations eventually began to come after four hours of play, when Marquis' flopped set of sevens (a 24-1 favorite) lost to Montgomery's runner-runner straight while holding A-Q to send Marquis home in ninth place with $900,670 in prize money. On the very next hand, it was Kim who found all of his chips at risk, and for the second hand in a row, a player fell. Kim was called down by both Suharto and Demidov, and he didn't even bother to show his holecards when he discovered that Suharto had made a pair of nines to bust him in eighth place. Kim took home $1,288,217. Rheem fell next in a way that reminded everyone in attendance of poker's cruelty. He moved all in with A-K and had Peter Eastgate, who held A-Q, dominated. But after the board fell Q-7-5-9-4, Rheem was sent packing in seventh place, good for $1,772,650.

While the first flurry of eliminations took place, Phillips began a comeback that ignited his large section of the crowd who came to be know as the "Phillipians," for their white dress shirt and red St. Louis Cardinals hat attire that made them look like an army of people who had decided to dress up as Phillips for Halloween. Phillips stepped back into the ring as a championship contender during the 86th hand of play.

David Rheem eliminated in seventhDarus Suharto eliminated in sixth

Dennis Phillips Wins a Big Pot

Hand No. 86
Blinds/Antes: 250,000-500,000 with a 50,000 ante
Dennis Phillips' Starting Stack: 18,150,000
Ivan Demidov's Starting Stack: 39,925,000
Phillips raised to 1.3 million preflop and Demidov made the call. The flop came K 3 3 and Demidov checked. Phillips bet 2.55 million and Demidov made the call. The turn was the 7 and both players checked. The river brought the K and Demidov checked. Phillips bet 5 million and Demidov went into the tank for several minutes before he decided to make the call. Phillips flipped up the K Q and took down the large pot to jump into the top three - and his 300-plus fans went nuts, as had become the custom.
Phillips' chip stack after the hand: 27,550,000
Demidov's chip stack after the hand: 31,075,000

Suharto was the next player to fall when his A-8 was dominated preflop against the A-Q of Montgomery, and he was drawing dead by the turn when Montgomery made an ace-high spade flush to send his fellow Canadian out of the tournament in sixth place. Suharto took home $2,418,563 in prize money. Montgomery would suffer a similar fate a few minutes later, but not before he got involved in the largest pot of the day against Demidov.

Scott Montgomery eliminated in fifth place

Scott Montgomery vs. Ivan Demidov

Hand No. 114
Blinds/Antes: 250,000-500,000 with a 50,000 ante
Ivan Demidov's Starting Stack: 24,975,000
Scott Montgomery's Starting Stack: 32,050,000
Montgomery raised to 1.5 million preflop from the small blind and Demidov reraised to 4.025 million from the big blind. Montgomery thought for a moment and then reraised all in for his remaining 24.375 million. Demidov made the all-in call with the K K, Montgomery showed the A 9, and the board ran out 6 6 4 10 3. Demidov sweated the two toughest cards of his life on the turn and river and doubled up to win the largest hand of the tournament thus far.
Demidov's chip stack after the hand: 50,100,000
Montgomery's chip stack after the hand: 7,075,000

After Montgomery made his ill-timed move, it was only a matter of time before he hit the rail. The second time that he pushed his short stack into the middle preflop, Eastgate called him down with pocket sixes. Montgomery's A♦ 3♦ failed to connect, and he took home $3,096,678 for fifth place.

Ylon Schwartz eliminated in fourthDennis Phillips eliminated in third

Four to Two in Four Hours

The final table had experienced a number of seismic shifts to get down to the final four, and although the finish line loomed for the approaching heads-up match and the end of play for the day, not one of the players remaining was going to roll over lightly with millions of dollars on the line. It took the final four players almost four hours before one of them was forced out. Schwartz moved all in on a bluff at the wrong time on a board that read K 8 2 K 5, because Eastgate held pocket fives and wasn't going anywhere with a full house. Schwartz sheepishly flipped over the A 10 after he was called, and took home $3,794,974 for finishing in fourth place. The hand also gave Eastgate the chip lead; with three players left, he held almost half of the chips in play.

Just 14 hands later, the end of the night came and Eastgate held much more than half of the chips in play after the final hand (hand No. 169). Ironically, it was the man who had been the heart and soul of the final-table proceedings who ended the night when he was knocked out in third place. Phillips decided to move all in on a flop of J 4 3 for his final 14.55 million, and Eastgate was happy to make the call while holding pocket threes for a flopped set. Phillips flipped over the 10 9, and he needed a lot of help in the form of a runner-runner straight to keep his tournament hopes alive, as well as the rooting interest of the majority of the people in the room. That hope died when an ace hit on the turn, and it ended the first part of the final table. Phillips took home $4,517,773 in prize money. Eastgate added Phillips' stack to his already hefty holdings, and went to bed with the chip lead heading into the heads-up match against Demidov.

Peter Eastgate and Ivan Demidov heads up for the 2008 WSOP title

Part II: Eastgate Controls the Heads-Up Match and Becomes the Youngest World Champion in History

The final two players returned the next night at 10 p.m. to play for the title and the huge first-place prize, and they were greeted by a packed house of poker fans, friends, and family members. The battle was set to be a long one between the two when play began, with the blinds and antes still allowing for a lot of poker to be played.

Heads-Up Chip Counts:

Peter Eastgate: 79,500,000
Ivan Demidov: 57,725,000

When things were all said and done, new records were set for the longest WSOP main-event final table, the largest blinds (500,000-1 million) reached in the history of the world championship, and the youngest world champion ever.

Play began slowly between the two players on the 170th hand of play at the final table, and it was Demidov who won the majority of the early pots during this careful and measured period of play, and he regained the chip lead. That lead was short-lived, though, and Eastgate rallied back by winning all of the right pots at all of the right times. Here were the major hands that set the stage for Eastgate's victory:

Eastgate Wins First Large Heads-Up Pot

Hand No. 204
Blinds/Antes: 400,000-800,000 with a 100,000 ante
Peter Eastgate's Starting Stack: 73,225,000
Ivan Demidov's Starting Stack: 63,675,000
Demidov raised to 2.8 million preflop and Eastgate made the call. The flop was dealt A J 3 and both players checked. The J came on the turn and Eastgate bet 3.25 million. Demidov made the call, and the river brought the Q. Demidov checked and Eastgate opened the action once again for 6.95 million. Demidov thought for a moment and then called. Eastgate turned over the A Q and Demidov mucked.
Eastgate's stack after the hand: 86,325,000
Demidov's stack after the hand: 50,575,000

Eastgate Reaches the 100 Million Mark

Hand No. 208
Blinds/Antes: 400,000-800,000 with a 100,000 ante
Peter Eastgate's Starting Stack: 86,825,000
Ivan Demidov's Starting Stack: 50,075,000
Demidov raised preflop to 2.75 million and Eastgate made the call. The flop came 9 7 6 and Demidov bet 3.625 million. Eastgate made the call, and the J fell on the turn. Both players checked, and the Q came on the river. Demidov bet 7 million and Eastgate made the call. They turned up their hands and Demidov held the A 10 against the J 8 of Eastgate.
Eastgate's stack after the hand: 100,300,000
Demidov's stack after the hand: 36,600,000

Demidov Takes a Big Hit

Hand No. 267
Blinds/Antes: 500,000-1 million with a 150,000 ante
Peter Eastgate's Starting Stack: 86,850,000
Ivan Demidov's Starting Stack: 50,050,000
Demidov raised to 2 million preflop from the button and Eastgate made the call. The flop was dealt K 10 7 and both players checked. The J fell on the turn and Eastgate bet 2.5 million. Demidov raised to 8 million and Eastgate made the call. The river brought the 3 and Eastgate checked. Demidov bet 12 million and Eastgate made the call again. They turned up their hands and Demidov held the A 9. Eastgate flipped over the 7 4 and won the pot with a diamond flush to take a huge lead.
Eastgate's stack after the hand: 109,000,000
Demidov's stack after the hand: 27,900,000

Demidov was knocked down even further when Eastgate made a full house against him with pocket threes on a board that read 8-8-5-3-9, which reduced his stack to just 20 million on the 271st hand of the final table, and the final hand came down a few minutes later.

Eastgate Wins the 2008 WSOP Main Event ($9,152,416)

Hand No. 274
Blinds/Antes: 500,000-1 million with a 150,000 ante
Peter Eastgate's Starting Stack: 120,550,000
Ivan Demidov's Starting Stack: 16,350,000

Eastgate limped from the button and Demidov checked preflop. The flop was dealt K 3 2 and Demidov checked. Eastgate bet 1.25 million and Demidov made the call. The turn card was the 4 and Demidov checked. Eastgate bet 2 million and Demidov check-raised to 6 million. Eastgate made the call, and the 7 fell on the river. Demidov moved all in for his final 7.95 million and Easgate called him down. Demidov turned up the 4 2 for two pair, but Eastgate turned over the A 5 for a wheel, and he won the tournament.

Eastgate ran over to the group of friends who had been supporting him with loud cheers all night, and he embraced fellow Danish WSOP gold bracelet winner Jesper Hougaard in triumphant celebration. The two are the only players in history from Denmark to win WSOP gold, but it was Eastgate who became the first Danish world champion. He also became the youngest world champion in history at 22 years, 10 months, and 28 days of age, beating the record set by Phil Hellmuth (24 years, 10 months, 5 days) in 1989 by almost two years. Eastgate also achieved the distinction of becoming the fifth foreign national player to win the WSOP main event, and the first to do so since Joe Hachem (Australia) in 2005. Eastgate took home $9,152,416 in prize money, which instantly places him second on the WSOP all-time money list.

Demidov won $5,809,595 for his runner-up finish, and achieved the distinction of becoming the first player to make the final table of the WSOP and WSOP Europe main events in the same year. The Dane's victory over his Russian opponent comes at a time when high-stakes tournament poker is experiencing the majority of its growth in Europe. A few years from now, Eastgate could very well be considered the Chris Moneymaker of European poker.

Peter EastgateA Conversation With the World Champion: Peter Eastgate

Question: You're very calm right now, considering that you're the new world champion of poker and have won more than $9 million. Has it hit you yet, what you have accomplished?

Peter Eastgate: I just haven't really realized how big this is, and that will come in the next weeks, and the next days.

Q: Were you very competitive growing up?

PE: I'm just a gambler. I've been gambling for four years and that's the way I learned to play poker. I love the game and the psychological efforts of the game. The first two years, I broke even, but I learned during that time.

Q: How does it feel to be the youngest main-event champion?

PE: It feels incredible, and it feels even better to beat Phil Hellmuth's record. I wasn't focusing on the record, though; I was just focusing on the game. I was determined to win tonight.

Q: How much of your poker playing takes place online?

PE: I love to play online, and I love to play cash games online. That's where there is a lot of action, and I love action.

Q: Did you have specific tells on any of the players whose bluffs you picked off during the course of the final table?

PE: I was able to pick up on the complete bluffs, and I had an idea on whether they were strong or weak, or whether they were going to raise or fold. I picked up some reads when they looked at their cards, and that gave away the strength of their hand.

Q: A lot of young players are going to see you on TV, and they're going to want to see if they can accomplish the same feat that you just did. What advice would you give them?

PE: The advice would be to practice bankroll management and to be disciplined about the game. You will have to improve your game by playing a lot of hands and putting the hours into it. The value of your sessions will come from the critical situations at the table, and you will definitely become a better poker player and improve as you gain experience.

Ivan DemidovA Conversation With the Runner-Up: Ivan Demidov

Question: Are you satisfied with the way you played tonight?

Ivan Demidov: It's hard to say, probably not, but I really had no idea how he was going to play at that point. He had more experience than me, so maybe sometimes I made some bad calls when I should have just folded, but I was thinking he was going to bluff … and I made a few big bluffs at the wrong time.

Q: You were the aggressor yesterday and early on in the heads-up match. What stalled that and turned the tables in your battle against Peter Eastgate?

ID: I just hit a few hands early on and thought I played them well, and after that, it was the other way around. I wasn't able to win any big pots and I wasn't able to pick up any big hands, and that was it.

Q: How much did your experience at the World Series of Poker Europe main-event final table add to your confidence and calm nature at this final table?

ID: It just boosted my confidence level. I didn't really learn anything new at the table from just one final table, and it didn't really change something in my game, but it definitely helped me to feel confident and not as nervous here.

Q: This heads-up match comes at a time when a lot of the growth in high-stakes tournament poker is taking place in Europe. Do you think that this will inspire even more young players in Europe to start playing poker?

ID: Yeah, I think so, definitely. In the past few years, there are a lot more European players, especially Russian players, who are coming to play in the World Series and other big events. It has been mostly U.S. players who have done well. Now it is going to change, and we're going to see a lot of European players, and South American, and Asian players doing it, as well. Poker is growing.