Stalk the teeming tournament rooms and the crowded corridors at the Rio in Las Vegas and you'll bump into poker's big-name players before very long. They're here, along with thousands of others, to win a WSOP bracelet and make some serious cash. While many previous WSOP World Champions are among them, one famous name, and winner of more than $9million in 2008, is conspicuous in his absence. Peter Eastgate.
The Dane, a member of Team PokerStars Pro, has revealed he intends to play only one tournament in this year's WSOP schedule - the Main Event in July. The reason? Football. He's going to the World Cup in South Africa instead. Oh, and he says he has little motivation to play the smaller events to try and win a second bracelet - and he does not care too much for the searing heat of a Vegas summer either.
He told PokerStars Blog HQ: "I'll be at the WSOP in time for day 1D of the Main Event. At first I was meant to play the $25,000 tournament (6-max) on June 30, which would suit me well because of its buy-in, format and challenge. Under normal circumstances I would have played it, but there are several reasons why I have postponed my departure from Europe.
"First and foremost, there's the football World Cup - an event I look forward to very much, especially to see all the big teams play great football. Of course I support Denmark and hope they'll do well, but honestly I don't think they play that well for the moment.
"Secondly, I prefer the summer in Europe rather than the one in Nevada where temperatures can reach up to 50c degrees during the day. And finally, I don't have the motivation to play all the small events at the WSOP. That would be a waste of money. To me it's not that important to win bracelet number two."
Eastgate, who has followed his Main Event victory with a succession of good results, sending his lifetime tournament earnings to $11million, believes many of the other high-profile pros would also skip some of the smaller events if it were not for the big side bets, like the bracelet bets they make with each other. Just look at what happened when Tom 'durrrr' Dwan made it to the recent $1,500 NL final table.
"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 as me. I see no reason to enter into such bets as I'm primarily a hold'em player. If you're to enter bracelet bets, you have to play all the events and I have never had a flair for mixed games."
So there you have it, an explanation of why no-one has seen Peter Eastgate in Las Vegas so far this summer. He's happy to let others take the heat (in terms of weather and poker).
He summed up: "So it suits me perfectly to be home in London at the moment and leave all the attention to the defending World Champion Joe Cada. On the other hand, I'll make sure to be motivated to play a good Main Event when I arrive in Vegas in July!"
Team PokerStars Pro Cada has played many of the events so far, but has been unable (yet) to replicate the form that propelled him to the main event championship, which he won last November for a cool $8.5million.
Before yesterday Team Pro had secured one final table (Alex Kravchenko in the $1,500 2-7 Lowball NL), and then up popped Dario Minieri.
The Italian, known for his fearless no-limit hold'em style and online play that netted him a Porsche from PokerStars, made it to yesterday's final of the $10,000 Stud High-Low Split 8 or Better final table. In what is a specialist format, which can test stamina and patience to the max, Minieri impressed with how he could switch his style.
Once the final table - which included Jen Harman, Steve Zolotow and John Juanda - was set, Minieri brought out what he described as his "secret weapon". That'll be his Roma football scarf, which he wrapped around his neck as the final got under way.
Unfortunately, this time the scarf did not live up to its billing, with Minieri busting first in eighth place, still good for a nice $52,366 payday (the biggest Team Pro cash to date). First Vladimir Schmelev, the Russian who finished runner-up in the $50,000 Poker Player's Championship, scooped the pot against him with a heart flush and an 8 low. That left Minieri in deep trouble, and shortly after he was finished off by Allen Kessler who hit two pair against Minieri's pair of aces. Frank Kassela went on to win the bracelet - and $447,446.
There were more cashes for PokerStars yesterday. In the $1,500 No Limit Hold'em Six-Max, Team PokerStars Pros JP Kelly finished in 40th (out of 1,663) for $7,610, while Andre Akkari, in his first WSOP event this year, got $3,636. Team PokerStars Online's Jorge Arias also cashed for $6,533.
The big starter event yesterday was the $5,000 No Limit Hold'em. In total, 792 ponied up the money for this one, including a long list of Team PokerStars Pros. Joe Cada, Noah Boeken, Hevad Khan, Daniel Negreanu, ElkY, Chad Brown, Barry Greenstein, Vanessa Rousso, Maria Mayrinck, Thomas Bichon and Pat Pezzin among them.
There was also a first sighting at the WSOP this year of Frenchman Arnaud Mattern and Germany's Florian Langmann.
By the end of ten levels, only 225 survived to come back today for day 2. They include Team PokerStars Online's George Lind, who bagged up an impressive 63,600 despite spending much of the day in Minieri's Stud event, where he finished tenth for $43,833! Also bagging up last night were Team PokerStars Pros Jason Mercier (57,300), Humberto Brenes (50,300) and Langmann (26,700).
Today sees the start of the $2,000 Limit Hold'em event, as well as the $10,000 NL Draw Lowball World Championship, which will bring out the PokerStars big guns once again.
But one thing is for sure: Peter Eastgate will not be there.
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Tweets of the Day - Daniel Negreanu $5K NL special
@RealKidPoker: I have a huge, dirty, smelly guy on my left who also happens to hum constantly. I want to bust him soooo bad.
@RealKidPoker: Stinky went broke with the JJ. Came back from a 20 min break and the seat still smelled so I switched it out
@RealKidPoker: Moved in on a limper with KQ for 2500. Button called with JJ. Board came vomit, blah, crap, garbage, airball. I'm out.
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Thought of the Day
Eastgate's Denmark have no chance in the World Cup. Come on England!
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Previous WSOP Diary entries
WSOP Diary: Ville Wahlbeck joins Team PokerStars Pro
WSOP Diary: Durrr misses biggest-ever poker payday, pros overjoyed
WSOP Diary: Poker's clean-up operation begins again
WSOP Diary: Manchester United soccer star Darren Fletcher tackles World Series of Poker
WSOP Diary: $10,000 Stud Championsip draws big names
WSOP Diary: Nh, gg, wp Daniel Negreanu, k?
WSOP Diary: Grinding out $1.5million with perfect timing
WSOP Diary: Team Pro Maridu needs Baker, Baker needs dough
WSOP Diary: Viva la revolution in Las Vegas
WSOP Diary: Safari, so good for Noah Boeken
WSOP Diary: Barry Greenstein mixes it up in the $50K
WSOP Diary: Going supersize in Las Vegas