Posted 2/12/11 : Fame can bring overbearing pressures to a young player
Peter Eastgate was, at 21-years-old, one of the youngest World Series of Poker main event champs ever when he took the prestigious event down in 2008, winning millions in doing so.
But he discovered that the fame it brought him has a serious downside, and last year he retired, selling his historic WSOP winner's bracelet and donating the $100 000 proceeds to UNICEF.
Many asked at the time why a young player at the peak of the pro poker business would do such a thing, and this week Eastgate opened up on his reasons for retiring…and more importantly announced that he was back.
"Sometimes in life a person can feel lost and wake up one morning not recognizing who he is," a statement from the young pro reads. "Last summer that was how I felt. Prior to winning the WSOP in 2008, my life was very much a good solid routine of playing online poker and hanging out with my friends and family.
"Winning the WSOP changed that. I relocated to London and started a new life, the life of a high profile poker pro. For almost 2 years I was in a constant spotlight, travelling from poker tournament to poker tournament, doing thousands of interviews and never had a chance to catch my breath. In the whirlwind that followed winning the WSOP I lost track of the most importing thing in my life, myself.
"Last summer I decided that I wanted to stop playing poker and catch my breath and find out who I am and what I want to do with my life. Over the last 8 months I have had a chance to reconnect with my friends and most important, my family. I have spent quality time with my family and really had an opportunity to figure out who I am and what I want to do with the rest of my life. When there is no financial pressure it can sometimes be hard to get motivated to move forward as a person.
"I truly enjoy playing poker. I love the competitive element and the mental challenges of tournament poker. I feel it is important to constantly grow as a person and for a while I didn't feel I was moving in the right direction. Having had time to think about my life and future I feel I have figured out how I can combine playing poker with a healthy life outside of poker."
Eastgate has hooked up again with Pokerstars, which has apparently been supportive of him during his brief retirement, perhaps recognising his undeniable talent and not wanting to lose it.
He will therefore re-start his poker career by playing two events where he will be sponsored by the giant online poker company; the first will be the PokerStars.com EPT Copenhagen in Eastgate's home nation of Denmark. After that he will compete in the NBC Heads Up Championship, in the meantime honing his skills in Pokerstars online tourneys.