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The Best Way Out of Vegas

by 'Mad Marty' Wilson |  Published: Feb 04, 2009


Peter Eastgate and Dave 'Devilfish' UlliottI have found what is by far the best way out of Las Vegas. You must take the East gate and $9 million with you. The first time I saw Peter Eastgate after his unbelievable victory in the main event at the World Series of Poker was at the PartyPoker Premier League launch party. Eastgate approached me and asked me if I remembered a certain incident that arose in 2006 in a heat of the Ladbrokes Poker Million. There were three players remaining in the heat - Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott, Demergis Stefanos, and the infamous Eastgate himself. As the Devilfish was intimidating the players by getting louder and louder, which is a style that sometimes works in poker, I noticed that Stefanos and Eastgate were like two rabbits caught in the headlights. This was all new to them, whereas Devilfish was the seasoned pro who had been playing in televised events since 1999.

I decided to stop the tournament and give the guys a time out. I walked them around the back of the SKY Sports studios and told the two boys not to be intimidated and to take a grip. "This could be a life changing experience," I told them. This seemed to pay off as the next player out was Devilfish himself, leaving Eastgate and Stefanos to fight out a heads up battle. Eastgate came second on this occasion. But he didn't come second in the World Series of Poker. What a fantastic feeling I got knowing that a little bit of advice I gave was in the head of the new world champion of poker when he played the main event in 2008. In my eyes, common sense will always prevail. And this is the rule that I try to use in all of the poker tournaments that I am fortunate enough to be tournament director of. I had completely forgotten about this incident, but the words I had spoken to him had lived with him for a couple of years.

The PartyPoker Premier League launch party was a swinging affair staged in Shaftsbury Avenue in the heart of London. Matchroom Sports had put on a party that was second to none. Food and drinks were provided for all. My co-worker and helper Spivver, who rarely drinks, had one too many that night and thought he was Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly mixed into one as he floated around the wooden floorboards. He was back in time, back to the sixties. The next day was a day of rest. We needed it to refuel the engines and get ready for what was going to be the greatest ever Premier League event.

Matchroom and PartyPoker had put together 12 of the greatest poker players to ever cherish the green felt. And what an eye opener it was for me. The very first heat was won by J.C. Tran, who is a player I was not familiar with, but his style of play will linger in my mind for a long time. One of the things that he said often, I will be thinking about for a long time. He said, "I'd rather make a bad lay-down than a bad call," and he folded a full house of jacks over aces. In this particular instance he was wrong, but invariably he also won that heat as well.

Eastgate was outstanding in his performances also. He had a strange sort of elegance in his mannerisms when he walked into the poker room, a quiet man by nature taking time for an occasional smile. I would like to know what runs through Eastgate's veins; this is the coolest poker player I have ever seen. The Premier League was full of young blood this season, with great players also in Annette Obrestad, Tom Dwan, and Nenad Medic. And of course the veterans like last year's winner Andy Black, the previous winner Juha Helppi, and the second ever youngest world champion Phil Hellmuth.

But the bonus for me came after it was all over. I was invited to play in the Gala festival tournament as a guest player. Packed with all the information and all the knowledge of how the 12 best players in the world had played all week I was out to prove a point. And the point was whether I could use all their infamous play and knowledge to win a few quid for myself. The information I cannot divulge. But if you stop and ask me I may tell me how much I won.

Mad Marty Wilson is a professional gambler and poker consultant for Matchroom Sport.