The 22-year-old Danish player Peter Eastgate has survived a field of thousands, a competitive final table and a tough heads up with the formidable Russian player Ivan Demidov to emerge as the winner of the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event.
Starting the heads up last (Monday) night at the Rio in Las Vegas, Eastgate was seriously short – to the tune of 21,775,000 – of Demidov's massive 79,500,000 chip count, but he lived up to his reputation of cool, collected play and disciplined aggression to end the evening with around 120,550,000 in chips to his opponent's 16,350,000!
The final drama was played out under bright television lights following a 2008 WSOP Player of the Year presentation to veteran Erick Lindgren, who looked pleased with his prize of a cool-looking Harley Davidson motor cycle. After that, it was the respected poker announcer Michael Buffer who was given the honour of making the "Shuffle Up and Deal" call, and the action was on.
104 hands later, at hand 274 the young Danish accountant-turned-poker-pro eliminated the hard-fighting Russian to become the first Dane to hold the title, and the youngest player ever to win poker's biggest tournament, breaking a record held over the last 19 years by Phil Hellmuth. He joins an elite list that includes Brunson, Moss, Ungar, Chan, Ferguson, Hellmuth, Yang, Gold, Hachem, Raymer, Moneymaker, Nguyen and a host of other top players going back to 1970.
Demidov's second place finish carries a significant consolation – a cheque for $5,809,595; and he has earned respect for his performance in reaching the final tables at both the Vegas and London editions of the WSOP.
Flanked by Vegas showgirls, Eastgate lived up to his reputation as a calm and even subdued personality, politely thanking his opponent and the sponsors and expressing quiet pride in his achievment. But a smile eventually appeared as he hefted a couple of currency bundles from the suitcase full of cash that was on display.
The 2008 WSOP final table will probably enter the records as one of the longest ever, taking over 16 hours to reach a conclusion. It will also be famous for big blinds reaching the million chip level, where some 32 hands were slugged out.