One of the things I always like to watch at the World Series of Poker Main Event is how past champions, particularly the defending champion, fare. Johnny Chan put on the best repeat show, winning the whole thing in 1987 and 1988 and then finishing second in 1989. More recently, Dan Harrington finished third and fourth, respectively, in 2003 and 2004. Greg Raymer made it to 25th in 2005, the year after his coronation. And in 2009, Peter Eastgate finished 78th the year after he took down the title.
But this year, we will not get to see if Eastgate can made yet a third deep run in a row. On Tuesday, the Dane announced through the PokerStars blog that he is taking an indefinite break from live tournament poker. Contrary to some rumors, he did not indicate that it is an official “retirement,” but rather just some time off from the game, although that time off has no defined end.
His statement was brief, and to the point:
“When I started playing poker for a living, it was never my goal to spend the rest of my life as a professional poker player. My goal was to become financially independent. I achieved that by winning the WSOP Main Event in 2008. The period following has taken me on a worldwide tour, where I have seen some amazing places and met many new people; it has been a great experience. In the 20 months following my WSOP win, I feel that I have lost my motivation for playing high level poker along the way and I have decided that now is the time to find out what I want to do with the rest of my life. What this will be, I do not yet know. I have decided to take a break from live tournament poker, and try to focus on Peter Eastgate, the person. I want to thank PokerStars, my friends and family for their support over the last 20 months and for their support in my decision to take a break from poker.”
A month ago, Eastgate wrote on the PokerStars blog that he was only going to play in this summer’s WSOP Main Event, rather than the multitude of preliminary events that so many pros like. He decided, instead, to travel to South Africa to attend the World Cup matches, as he is a huge soccer fan and the sporting spectacle only takes place once every four years. He also said that he had no desire to play preliminary events as he didn’t care about winning another bracelet and, as a Hold’em player, he would be at a disadvantage if made a bunch of bracelet bets like his fellow pros did. In regards to not caring about a bracelet, Eastgate noted, “I’m sure if they didn’t have huge bracelet bets going on that many of the other big poker names would feel the same.”
Eastgate has won plenty of money in just live tournaments alone, so he will not be hurting for money. Of course, he won $9,152,146 at the 2008 WSOP, so that would have easily been enough. He followed that up in January 2009 with a $343,000 win in a $5,000 event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and then nabbed $843,734 with a second place finish at the European Poker Tour’s London Stop in October. All told, he has won almost $11 million on the live tournament circuit.
PokerStars, the online poker room for which Eastgate has played as a sponsored pro, publicly supported his decision in the same blog.
“We know that poker will miss this world class player and world class role model, but PokerStars has only the deepest respect for Peter’s decision. Poker is about determination and excitement and if Peter lacks this in his game, the right decision is to take a break, Peter has played amongst world champions and he has carried his title in the most admirable fashion. Tournament after tournament, the young poker player from Odense, Denmark has achieved great results and has established himself as one of the greatest natural talents the poker world has ever seen.”

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