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Don't Call It a Comeback: Eastgate Ends Retirement

At just 24-years-old, Eastgate shocked the poker world last summer announcing his retirement just before the 2010 WSOP Main Event.

In the Fall, he even put his World Series of Poker Main Event bracelet up for auction on eBay, raising $147,500 for the UNICEF childrens' charity.

Now, just eight months into his retirment, Eastgate says he'll return to the felt at EPT Copenhagen later this month and take his seat in the NBC National Heads Up Championship in Las Vegas this March.

"I do not consider this a comeback, as I always knew there was a good chance I would play poker again," Eastgate said in a statement released by the PokerStars Press Office Thursday.

"During my hiatus from poker, PokerStars have been very supportive. Therefore, I am pleased that I will start out with playing two events where I will be sponsored by PokerStars. First, I will be playing the EPT Copenhagen, which of course means a lot to me, since it is on my home ground. Then I will play the NBC Heads Up Championship.

"I am fortunate that PokerStars have the best online tournaments, so I have an opportunity to get back in tournament shape."

Eastgate says he just needed a little time to find himself again.

"Sometimes in life a person can feel lost and wake up one morning not recognizing who he is," reads the statement.

"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 two 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 eight 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 he initially retired, Eastgate said winning the Main Event set him up for life financially, making it hard to find the motivation to continue playing poker.

He reiterated those claims in Thursday's statement.

"When there is no financial pressure it can sometimes be hard to get motivated to move forward as a person," he said.

"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."

Finally, he addressed concerns that the sale of his bracelet was a way of thumbing his nose at the poker world.

"There have been some questions about the sale of my WSOP bracelet," the statement reads. "I was not trying to devaluate the WSOP name. It was not sold to make any kind of statement. It was sold to raise money for UNICEF and I am very proud and thankful that the sale raised £100,000 to UNICEF."

Eastgate has career live tournament earnings of $10,904,211. He won $9,152,416 in the 2008 WSOP Main Event.



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