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Controversy Erupts in Poker World Over Recent WPT Title Win

Written by:
Guest
Published on:
Feb/15/2018

  • Deal made between two poker players tarnishes title victory as other individual clearly held big lead
  • Fellow poker pro Grant Hinkle: "It disparages the resume of Mike Leah, the prestige of major titles like the WPT, and whatever integrity is left in the game of poker."
  • Fellow poker pro Eric Rodawig chimed in: "I don’t think a title and the benefits it comes with should ever be offered up as part of a deal.

The poker community was abuzz at how Mike Leah won his World Poker Tour (WPT) title in the Fallsview Poker Classic.  Scroll Down for More...


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PokerNews.com provided a summary of how it all went down:

Leah went into the official final table at WPT Fallsview with one of the bigger stacks and only cemented his advantage early on.

However, fellow Canadian Ryan Yu dominated much of the final stretch of play. He moved into the lead 72 hands in, according to the live updates, and didn't slow down as he eliminated his next two opponents to get heads up with Leah holding a little more than a 2-1 lead.

At that point, the players opted to take an unscheduled break. Often in tournament poker, this means the players are discussing a potential deal, and that's precisely what happened in Fallsview.

When the players returned to the table, they made no pretense of the fact that they'd already come to an agreement and the tournament was essentially over. Yu raise-folded away all but a handful of his chips in a few consecutive hands, and then the two ran out boards until Leah swept up Yu's remaining crumbs.

Leah was declared the champion.

The original payouts called for the winner to bank C$451,821 and a $15,000 seat into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions, while the runner-up would claim C$301,217. A chip value deal that saw each player take home money commensurate with the value of his stack was later arrived at following the initial criticism received.

Many called Leah's title completely farcical, given that he had a far inferior chip count to that of Yu at the time the deal was done, however.  It matters in a world where records and rings count for something. 

Case in point.  Phil Hellmuth is known for having the most World Series of Poker bracelets.  Imagine if you will a situation where a fellow poker pro were to be tied with Hellmuth then make a deal similar to that which Leah made with Yu, thus thrusting that individual to become the WSOP bracelet leader.  How fair would that be to Hellmuth?

"I have no idea how someone goes through the mental gymnastics necessary to value that WPT championship on your resume, but also rationalize to exhaustion to convince themselves that they truly earned it when they cut a deal to rig it," poker pro Grant Hinkle said. "Mike Leah cast a giant skeptical shadow over all of his titles now, and at the same time he cheapened the value of the WPT championship he coveted so much."

Hinkle essentially called the title win a sham.

"It disparages the resume of Mike Leah, the prestige of major titles like the WPT, and whatever integrity is left in the game of poker."

Fellow poker pro Eric Rodawig chimed in: "I don’t think a title and the benefits it comes with should ever be offered up as part of a deal."

Leah later responded to his critics.

"If you want to pretend my results over the years are tarnished because I made a deal heads up, OK. You’re free to your opinion. You have to get there before you can even consider making a deal and I get there more than you."

It remains to be seen whether this goes down as a title with an asterisks.

- Ace King, Gambling911.com

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