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Poker Tournament Trail -- Peter Eastgate

Former World Champion Talks About Runner-Up Finish in London

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Peter EastgatePeter Eastgate proved his champion status and astounded his opponents once again, but this time on the other side of the Atlantic, when he finished runner up in the PokerStars.com European Poker Tour London main event. He spoke to Card Player straight after about his journey to second place, his image at the felt, and his thoughts behind certain hands.

Rebecca McAdam: You finished in second place at this season’s European Poker Tour London, tell me about how you got there.

Peter Eastgate: On day 1, my table draws were not that hard, I had a lot of different fishy spots at my table, so I tried each time to accumulate chips — obviously you need to hold the better hand to accumulate chips and luckily for me I was connecting pretty well and I got paid off good. So right from the get-go I built my stack up pretty good and I finished the first day with 122,000. Then from day 2 and so forth I was struggling. I was short-stacked throughout many periods but I managed to grind it out and be patient, and I managed, quite primarily, to win the major flips. Most often, I had the better hand like A-J versus A-10 and so on but still I had my tournament life on the line. I could have been knocked out but my cards held up.

RM: Did you expect to get as far as you did?

PE: Well you never expect to make the money when you enter a tournament. Every day I entered the event I felt confident, but I was just happy to go through with more chips than I started the day with, and hopefully around average. I never really have any expectations or make any goals for how many chips I should have or what place to finish in until we are two players left. And even when we were going heads up, it’s not like I would be vastly disappointed if I lose. Poker for me is all about decisions and if I feel like I have made the right decisions I can go back home and sleep very tight about that.

RM: There was only three hands heads up…

PE: Yeah he crushed me (laughs).

RM: Tell me about them because one hand in particular from the final table came into play when you went heads up.

PE: Yeah. In the hand where he held pocket eights, he check-raised me on the river as I made my set on the river. He made quite a tiny check-raise and I eventually called him because I didn’t necessarily believe that he would do that with a straight. It’s very believable that he could have a flush but maybe he would make a bit of a bigger
raise. Anyway, I was getting good odds, and he could have a worse set which was played in a strange way, or some weird two-pair combination. So that’s the reason I just called, I don’t see that there’s any value in three-betting on the river.

That hand paid dividends to the heads-up play where he check-raised me again on the river. This time I bet out 1.1 million, obviously the blinds and stacks were a bit bigger, but in relation to how many chips were in the pot, he made a bigger raise, he made three times my bet on the river, and something just felt wrong about it. He did it in a different way and I thought that the reason why he did it in a different way might be that he just had it this time, but obviously the previous hands always play a part in the current hand.

RM: It must have been quite difficult because on one hand you might think he wouldn’t do it again without having the hand to back it up, but on the other hand, maybe that’s what he wants you to think.

PE: Exactly, that’s the psychological element, and there are all these levels, like first level and second level — those kind of things can drive you nuts.

RM: Is that what you were thinking?

PE: Yeah I try to process all that kind of information, but I only go to the first or second level, not to any deep level or anything.

RM: Do you think that being the (former) world champion intimidates your opponents, especially on a final table for example?

PE: They definitely adjust differently to me than when they’re playing the other guys. I’m known as an aggressive player so they three-bet me very light and they come over the top of me which is basically the same, but what I’m saying is I was opening a pot yesterday from middle position with nine players left and it folded around to Vivek Rajkumar in the big blind and he shoved on me and I made the call with pocket tens, and he happened to have K-7. Obviously you should never ever just pick out one hand to prove that they are doing anything absurd because it doesn’t really prove anything, you’ve got to have a decent sample size. It still kind of proves that they are three-betting me with a very wide range, they don’t believe me, and they are giving me very little respect. The main thing is I have to be aware of that and I need to make my adjustments.

As I mentioned Vivek, I also need to say that he is one of the most intelligent players I’ve ever played against. He’s very bright, so it’s not like they just saw me as an aggressive player, so they just three-bet me, they can adjust and they can figure out when I have strength, and can see right through me as well.

RM: Do you feel that it’s even more vital for you to keep adjusting your game?

PE: You always need to adjust your game. The public image I have as a poker player is kind of a guy who you can push off hands because I have this famous hand against Tom Dwan where I had trips and I folded. A lot of different people have berated me on that hand. I think it’s pretty clear and simple how to play that hand, I think I should have led out on the flop but as I got to the turn the way I did, I don’t think I did anything in particular wrong, and most of the professional players I respect have the same take on it.

I’m way past it. When he showed me the hand in the very moment that I folded, you always feel a bit sick that you got bluffed off the best hand but as I said before, it’s all about making the right decisions for the right reasons.

RM: You made a very big lay down in the penultimate hand of the London main event. You said afterwards you had K-J, so you had top pair (two pair including the board) and he had trips with A-5, you must be happy with your fold there then?

PE: Well I still lost, I didn’t come back (laughs). I’m still contemplating was it the right move to reraise all in with the A-9 in the very end or did I take the right approach on the game — should I have limped a little bit more, but it lasted for so few hands, it was over before it had really begun. Poker for me is all about decisions, and if I feel like I made the right decisions, then I can go home and
sleep very tight about that.

RM: Did your big lay down tilt you a bit and make you just want to get the rest in when you saw the ace?

PE: Yeah, it definitely influenced it, but it wasn’t a tilt move so much as I think it’s reasonable enough to come over the top there.

RM: Where to next?

PE: I’m playing a PKR heads-up tournament which is going to be so sickening because we are starting out very deep and I’m playing against Vicky Coren who is very tight. It’s a televised event and it’s going to be so weird to be playing for $10,000 after having just been playing for like $600,000.

RM: Does that influence how you play?

PE: Yeah it does. I would definitely take the London main event more seriously than the other event.

Peter Eastgate finished second in the PokerStars.com EPT London main event for a payday of £530,000. Aaron Gustavson took the title and first prize of £850,000.