LAS VEGAS – A 22-year-old Danish poker professional won the World Series of Poker early Tuesday, turning a wheel straight on the last hand to become the youngest champion in the history of the no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event.
Peter Eastgate hit an ace-to-five straight on the turn and instantly called an all-in bet from Ivan Demidov on the river to win the title and $9,152,416. Demidov held two pair, twos and fours.
The previous youngest champion was 11-time gold bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth, who was 24 when he won the tournament in 1989.
"It feels good to beat Phil's record," Eastgate said after taking pictures with stacks of $100 bills and his new gold bracelet. "I was not focused on the record that I could break, I was just focused on the game."
Eastgate built a 7-to-1 chip advantage before the decisive hand by sniffing out two bluffs by Demidov for big pots.
Eastgate, of Odense, Denmark, put Demidov on his heels by stopping the 27-year-old from bluffing a pot worth roughly 44 million chips with an ace high. Eastgate called with a diamond flush.
He won a significant pot four hands later with a full house and immediately began putting pressure on the final opponent standing between him and the title.
"My motivation was $9 million and a bracelet," Eastgate said. "That's what kept me focused."
Demidov, a 27-year-old semiprofessional poker player from Moscow, took home $5,809,595 for second place.
Demidov erased Eastgate's initial 24 million chip advantage in their quest for the gold bracelet in less than 30 minutes to start the night.
But Eastgate regained his chips and then some by the first break — taking a 35.8 million chip lead after hitting two pair, aces and queens.
Eastgate took a nearly 2-to-1 chip advantage after calling a 7 million chip river bet with a pair of jacks. A queen was on the board, but Demidov turned over an ace high. The call indicated that Eastgate sensed his hand was good despite the large bet and plenty of cards that could have beaten him.
One player had to collect all the chips in play — some 137 million — to win the tournament. Chips have no monetary value and each player started the no-limit Texas Hold 'em tournament in July with 20,000 chips.
The players were deliberate in their decisions, not rushing to shove their chips in the middle early on. As Eastgate distanced himself from Demidov, it became apparent that Demidov would need to double his stack to keep his options unhindered.