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WSOP History -- 2008 Recap

Peter Eastgate Wins the Main Event and Tops the First November Nine


The 2008 World Series of Poker saw some of the most significant changes to the schedule in years. For the first time in the history of the main event play would be paused for several months once the final nine were set in July, and they would not return until early November. This led everyone to call the finalists the November Nine. The number of events was actually decreased, moving from 55 to 54, but the buy-ins in many events was increased. There were a total of seven $10,000 world championship events that preceded the main event in 2008. Here is a look at who won the title in each of them:

$10,000 pot-limit hold’em: Nenad Medic
$10,000 mixed event: Tony Rivera
$10,000 seven-card stud: Eric Brooks
$10,000 heads-up no-limit hold’em: Kenny Tran
$10,000 limit hold’em: Rob Hollink
$10,000 Omaha eight-or-better: David Benyamine
$10,000 pot-limit Omaha: Marty Smyth

Other highlights of the summer included the first bracelet wins for professionals Erick Lindgren, J.C. Tran, David Singer, Sebastian Ruthenberg, Dario Minieri, Vitaly Lunkin, Scott Seiver, and Vanessa Selbst. Two brothers won gold bracelets at the same WSOP for the first time in 2008. Grant Hinkle won a $1,500 no-limit hold’em event on June 3 and his younger brother Blair won a $2,000 no-limit hold’em event on June 14. Barry Greenstein and Mike Matusow each won their third bracelet, and Daniel Negreanu captured his fourth. All of these achievements took a back seat when Layne Flack captured the sixth bracelet of his career by winning the $1,500 pot-limit Omaha w/rebuys event to move into a tie for eighth place on the all-time bracelet list with T.J. Cloutier, Men Nguyen, and Jay Heimowitz.

John Phan was the only double bracelet winner of the summer. He won the first bracelet of his career in a $3,000 no-limit hold’em event on June 17, and followed that up with a second bracelet victory in a $2,500 limit deuce-to-seven lowball event on June 24. The two bracelet wins weren’t enough for Phan to win the WSOP player of the year award, but when added to his strong performance throughout 2008, it helped him win the Card Player player of the year title at the end of the year. The WSOP player of the year in 2008 was Lindgren, who along with his bracelet win, cashed five times total and made three final tables.

One of the final tables that Lindgren made was the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. championship where he finished in third place. The two players that finished ahead of Lindgren were Michael DeMichele and Scotty Nguyen. A long battle ensued between the final three players and during that time Nguyen directed table talk at his competitors and staff at the final table that was deemed inappropriate. Nguyen eventually won the H.O.R.S.E. gold bracelet and $1,989,120 prize but his image suffered a setback in the process.

The 2008 $10,000 no-limit hold’em main event attracted a field of 6,844 entries, which was up slightly from the year before. The prize pool stood north of $64 million with $9,152,416 going to the winner. The field played down over the first half of July and then play was stopped when the final nine were set until November 9.

The time off proved to be a big advantage for Ivan Demidov, who cashed in third place at the World Series of Poker Europe main event final table in October and came into the final table as the favorite in second chip-position. He jumped to a chip lead of nearly 36 million early after winning a huge pot early against Dennis Phillips. The long slumber proved tough to awaken from for most of the November Nine and the first elimination didn’t come until four hours into play when Craig Marquis fell in ninth place. Short-stacked Kelly Kim moved all in on the very next hand and he fell in eighth place. The most noted professional at the final table, Chino Rheem, was the next to move all in and he did so with A-K. Peter Eastgate made the call with A-Q and the board ran out Q-7-5-9-4 to bust Rheem in seventh place.

Phillips had fallen to 8.88 million after he tangled early with Demidov, but he started a comeback when play was six handed. He played a huge pot with Demidov once again and this time he was victorious and grew his stack to 27.5 million. This gave him more than enough chips to outlast Darus Suharto (sixth place), Scott Montgomery (fifth place), and Ylon Schwartz (fourth place). He finally fell when he shoved with 10-9 in the hole on a J-4-3 flop. Eastgate made the call with pocket threes for a set and they held up to win the hand and score Eastgate his fourth elimination at the final table. Demidov had won big pots throughout the day so although Eastgate held the lead, the heads-up chip counts weren’t too imbalanced (Eastgate — 79.5 million to Demidov – 57.725 million) when the final two returned the next night to decide who would become world champion.

Eastgate won the first two large pots contested between the final two players to grow his stack to 100 million. He continued to pile up pots by showing down the winning hand at every turn. He won two more key pots with a diamond flush and a full house so when the final hand began he held 120.5 million to Demidov’s 16.35 million. Eastgate limped from the button and Demidov checked before a flop was dealt KSpade Suit 3Heart Suit 2Diamond Suit. Demidov checked and Eastgate bet 1.25 million. Demidov made the call and the turn fell 4Club Suit. Demidov checked, Eastgate bet 2 million, and Demidov check-raised to 6 million. Eastgate called and the river was dealt 7Spade Suit. Demidov moved all in for 7.95 million and Eastgate made the call. Demidov revealed 4Heart Suit 2Heart Suit but Eastgate held ADiamond Suit 5Spade Suit for a wheel. He won the title of world champion and the top prize worth more than $9 million.

Eastgate also became the youngest main event champion in history at 22 years, 10 months, and 28 days of age, which beat the record that Phil Hellmuth set in 1989 when he won the main event at the age of 24.