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WSOP Main Event champ disputes claim he owes winnings percentage

Updated August 31, 2022 - 3:45 pm

The champion of the World Series of Poker Main Event is disputing a claim that he owes a percentage of his winnings from the tournament to another player.

Espen Jorstad released a statement Monday on his Twitter account denying that he agreed to swap 3 percent of his earnings from the $10,000 buy-in No-limit Hold’em World Championship with professional poker player Alexandros Theologis.

“After having a pretty uncomfortable experience a couple of days ago, it became clear to me that this is a situation that needs addressing before the rumour mill gets going,” Jorstad wrote. “It’s important to me to tell my side of the story here, as people absolutely love gossiping about situations like this, and I don’t want it to get out of hand.”

According to Jorstad, the dispute began when he received several messages on Day 7 of the Main Event from Theologis, who thought the two had agreed to swap 3 percent of their earnings from the tournament.

Jorstad entered Day 7 in fifth place with 35 players remaining. He went on to become the first Norwegian to win the Main Event and took home the $10 million first prize.

Poker players often swap equity in a tournament with one another to help offset any potential losses. In most instances, players document the percentages they buy and sell through a text or social media message, video, email or even a written contract.

Jorstad posted July 25 on Twitter that he had 56 percent of his own action in the Main Event and agreed to 14 swaps from 1 to 7.5 percent. There was no mention of Theologis or any other player in the post.

“Whenever I swapped with people for the main (or any other tournament), we always confirmed it in a chat, and I also wrote it down in my own document to keep track,” Jorstad wrote. “For Alex, I had neither. … I strongly believe that it is crystal clear that there is no swap.”

Theologis, who busted out of the Main Event without making the money, also approached British poker pro Patrick Leonard during the tournament about the alleged swap, Jorstad wrote.

Jorstad and Leonard are friends and combined to win the WSOP $1,000 buy-in Tag Team No-Limit Hold’em event in June.

“He explained that he thought he had swapped with me, but could not find any evidence for the swap,” Jorstad wrote. “(Leonard) asked me about it, and I told him that I had no memory of ever swapping with Alex. By the time I was chip leader going into the final table, Alex had become certain that there was a swap in place.”

Jorstad wrote that he and Theologis later met at a hotel in Las Vegas to discuss the situation. There, Jorstad explained to Theologis that he had no recollection of agreeing to a swap.

Also, Jorstad wrote in his statement that neither he nor Theologis recorded details of the alleged swap and that Theologis did not recall any specifics, including when or where the agreement took place.

Theologis appeared Tuesday on a video with Joey Ingram, a prominent poker content creator, and said he believed the dispute with Jorstad was over when he sent a private Instagram message July 29.

“I think the most important thing that we need to clarify is that I never sent anyone after Espen,” Theologis said. “When he basically said that he doesn’t remember the swap and he isn’t going to pay, for me that’s when the issue ended. This isn’t an ongoing dispute. I’m not trying to get money out of Espen.”

Theologis admitted in the interview he didn’t document the alleged oral agreement to swap equity with Jorstad and the two haven’t made swaps like this previously.

“It is definitely very dumb of me to not have written it down,” Theologis said.

Theologis is a noted online professional from Greece who won the WSOP Online $25,000 buy-in Super High Roller Championship in August 2021 for more than $1.2 million.

If the swap took place, Theologis would be in line for a $300,000 payout from Jorstad’s $10 million victory.

Jorstad wrote he made the dispute public after he was confronted during a cash game Saturday night in Cyprus by someone threatening violence if he did not pay Theologis his 3 percent.

Jorstad also wrote he received a direct message on Instagram “a couple of weeks ago” telling him to pay Theologis.

“I’ll give Alex the benefit of the doubt here, and I don’t think he is trying to tarnish my rep out of spite or anything like that,” Jorstad wrote. “I hold my own integrity in very high regard (which is why this situation is very frustrating to me).”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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