WSOP Main Event Winner Peter Eastgate Comes Clean About Gambling and Life After His 2008 Win

March 9th, 2016 | by Kaycee James
Peter Eastgate WSOP poker dream

Peter Eastgate, seen here during final heads-up play approaching his 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event win, is on a quest to find a new passion in life after growing weary of poker. (Image: Isaac Brekken/AP)

Peter Eastgate is still only 30 years old, but the 2008 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event champion has been retired for roughly six years. Two years after pocketing over $9.1 million during his WSOP triumph, Eastgate announced he was taking a hiatus from the game that made him rich, and walked off into the sunset.

Eastgate rose again this week at the WSOP Circuit stop in Tbilisi, Georgia (as in Russia, not the American state), where’s Dirk Oetzmann spotted the former star. Eastgate said he hasn’t been up to much since stepping away from the felt, although he did admit to trying his hand at biomedicine, where he didn’t find nearly the same success that he once did in poker.

“I failed four out of four exams so I couldn’t continue,” Eastgate revealed. “I’m not bored . . . But if you look at it from the outside, it would sure look boring.”

Dream Turned Nightmare

For the thousands of entries into any given year’s World Series Main Event, winning the biggest no-limit hold’em tournament on planet Earth can only be imagined as a dream. In fact, just cashing in the event (the top 1,000 spots were paid last year) is a lifelong goal for many.

Prior to his historic run in 2008, in which he became the youngest WSOP Main Event winner ever at 22-years-old (a mark eclipsed by Joe Cada the following year), Eastgate hadn’t cashed in a single WSOP event. 

The Dane enjoyed continued success post-2008.

He won the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event in 2009 for a $343,000 prize, and then reached Day Six, defending his WSOP Main Event title, the following year before eventually busting in 78th place for $68,979.

But in the end, the glitz and glamour of being a world poker celebrity took its toll. Eastgate confessed to PokerListings to being “an addict, a degenerate gambler,” but is fortunate to still retain enough money to live comfortably for the rest of his life.

“I don’t live a jet-set lifestyle,” he explained. “I don’t have anything that’s fairly expensive so I can lead a pretty cheap life.”

Eastgate told Oetzmann that his appearance on the WSOP Circuit was at the request of Adjarabet, a Georgian interactive gaming company that was the main sponsor of the stop. When pressed on whether he’d return to high-stakes tables anytime soon, the former champ deflected and revealed that he now focuses on $1/$2 no limit cash games and no longer possesses the desire to play events that last for hours.

Felt of Broken Dreams

Winning millions playing the game you love is the fantasy of many a gambler. However, reality can sometimes detour from one’s preconceived visualization.

Gambling is a lot like Hollywood, a place where dreams can be made and hearts can be crushed.

From Archie Karas’ “The Run” where he turned $50 into $40 million, then back into $0 and eventual jail time and Nevada Black Book listing, to the endless stories of lottery winners pocketing millions only to later destroy their lives, the old adage that “money can’t buy happiness” certainly holds true value.

“I know I don’t want to carry on like this for the rest of my life,” Eastgate disclosed. “I need to set some goals, find a passion.”

A cautionary tale if ever there was one.


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