Last November, Peter Eastgate defeated Ivan Demidov heads up to become the youngest World Series of Poker Main Event champion ever. Demidov claimed his own piece of poker history, becoming the first player to ever make the final tables of both the WSOP and the WSOP-Europe, and he did it in the same year! Between making the final table in July and the restart in November, Demidov flew over to London and took third in the Main Event across the pond. So when PokerStars decided to replay the heads-up portion of the WSOP Main Event from 2008, we knew it would be a great matchup. Obviously this time there weren't millions of dollars on the line, but bragging rights a $10,000 for charity isn't chicken feed, either.
The stacks were deep as the competitors took their seats at the virtual felt, with Eastgate leading 80 million in chips to Demidov's 56 million. The blinds were 120,000/240,000 with a 30,000 ante, so there was plenty of play in the structure. The only difference was in the time players had to make their decisions, which was adjusted to fit the standard PokerStars time allowances. The levels were also shortened to fit the parameters of internet play, with 30 minutes levels instead of the 2-hour levels in the WSOP.
First blood went to the runner-up, as Demidov took down a big pot to cut Eastgate's chip lead in half. The pace of internet play took some getting used to for these players, accustomed as they were to taking their time making decisions. Demidov ate into his time bank heavily in the first couple of hands, then his time bank took a further his as he suffered a disconnection at about the 10-minute mark of the match.
By 15 minutes into the match the pendulum had swung back to Eastgate, as he reclaimed his chip lead in this big hand.
Eastgate kept the pressure on, three-betting Demidov and moving all in on occasion to force a fold. Demidov's connection issues came into play again as he times out of a big pot, to which Eastgate jokingly remarked that he was abusing Demidov's lack of a time bank. While he wasn't abusing his opponent's lack of a time bank, Eastgate certainly wasn't giving him any breaks, either. He raised practically ever time he started with the button, not letting off the accelerator for a minute. Demidov responded with plenty of opening raises of his own, and the odd three-bet, and for a spans of five or six hands in a row we sat by as no-flop poker was the method du jour.
Eventually Eastgate's pressure poker built up a 2:1 chip lead, which he extended in a huge pot that actually went all the way to the river. Eastgate raised from the button, eliciting no surprise from anyone watching anywhere around the world. Demidov flat-called to see a flop of 3♠-8♠-2♣. Demidov checked, and again Eastgate surprised no one by betting out. Demidov called again, and the T♦ came on the turn. Demidov checked again, and then called again when Eastgate bet. The river brought the 8♦, and the players went check-check, with Eastgate showing K♦-K♣. Kings were good enough as Demidov mucked his hand, and Eastgate dragged a pot worth almost 12 million in chips.
After a period of raise/fold poker, Demidov's connection issues raised their ugly head again, costing him a big pot and moving Eastgate over the 100-million chip mark. Now holding a 3:1 advantage, Eastgate applied even more consistent pressure as he worked to wear Demidov down. We continued to see very few showdowns, as the players generally got all the raising in on the first couple of streets. Just before the end of the second level, Demidov doubled through Eastgate to bring things almost back to even. All the chips went in preflop, and it was a classic coin flip. Demidov got it all in with K♣-Q♦, and Eastgate called with 5♠-5♥. Demidov caught a king on the 8♥-A♠-K♦ flop, and Eastgate needed one of two cards to eliminate his opponent. The turn and river blanked out, coming down J♠-7♥, and Eastgate's formidable chip lead had been hacked almost to nothing. The champ as undeterred, and he went right back to work, but at the beginning of Level Three the chip stacks were almost exactly even.
Eastgate came back from the first break with a little more gas in the tank, and quickly took control of the match. By just a few minutes back from break, he had extended his lead to 30 million in chips with very few showdowns. But Demidov wasn't ready to lie down and die just yet, picking up a big hand with a flush over flush to move back into contention. And in one big hand, the momentum swung abruptly into Demidov's favor.
Eastgate got all his money in on the very next hand, and it turned out to be for the last time. He and Demidov traded raises back and forth preflop until all the money went in, and Eastgate tabled 4d-4c for a pocket pair. He was in deep trouble when Demidov's 10d-10c was revealed, because not only was he behind to a bigger pair, he had no chance at a four-flush as both his suits were dead. The board ran out 2h-2s-9h-3d-10s, and Demidov rivered a full house to take down the rematch and win $10,000 for charity.
Congratulations to both our champions, as Team PokerStars Pro put on a great show tonight, and congrats to Ivan Demidov for beating the champ heads up!