WSOP Main Event Champion Espen Jorstad Accused of Not Paying $300K Swap

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2022 WSOP World Champion Espen Jorstad is at the center of a swapping scandal following accusations of non-payment by Alex Theologis.

Espen Jorstad
Alex Theologis has accused 2022 World Champion Espen Jorstad (pictured) of not paying him the $300K he owes him following an alleged Main Event swap. (Image: WSOP)

Jorstad brought the issue to light on Monday following an “uncomfortable experience” in Cyprus where he said someone indirectly threatened to hurt him. The Irish poker player who reportedly made the threat isn’t named, but he’s believed to be a friend of Theologis and demanded that Jorstad “pay the man his money” or be prepared to discuss the issue “outside.”

The money allegedly owed in this instance is 3% of Jorstad’s $10 million WSOP Main Event prize, an amount Theologis claims the pair agreed to swap prior to the tournament.

Jorstad clarifies WSOP payouts

Jorstad explained soon after his victory that he wouldn’t be keeping the entire $10 million he won. In a tweet posted on July 26, he showed his full set of results for the summer. He had 14 swaps in the WSOP Main Event, all of which were between 1% and 7.5%.

In total, he had 56% of his own action. That means he cleared $5.6 million after paying out the people he swapped action with. All was well until Theologis claimed Jorstad owned him 3%.

Jorstad’s TwitLonger post explains the issue in more detail and includes screenshots of the messages sent from Theologis. Those messages (see image below) show that neither player knew when they agreed to the alleged swap. There are also no prior messages or documentation confirming a swap.

jorstad messages
Jorstad posted images of his phone messages from Theologis. (Image: Espen Jorstad)

The two pros met in Las Vegas and discussed the issue. A message following the meeting (see image below) shows Jorstad clarifying his position that no swap occurred. Theologis responded by saying that he’s “disappointed” and feels “betrayed.” He ends the message by questioning how Jorstad can “sleep at night.”

jorstad messages 2
A final message between Jorstad and Theologis. (Image: Espen Jorstad)

English pro, Patrick Leonard, has been brought into the discussion as he’s friends with both Jorstad and Theologis. He said that not writing down the details of a swap doesn’t necessarily absolve someone from the responsibility of paying what they owe. In essence, swaps can be made with a handshake agreement.

However, he also acknowledges that the swap may not have occurred. Jorstad and Theologis have never swapped before and, prior to the 2022 WSOP Main Event, they’d only met twice. Additionally, there are no chat logs referencing a swap, other than the ones after Jorstad won the Main Event.

Finally, neither party has a clear recollection of any discussions about swapping action. Theologis says he remembers they agreed to swap 3% but, other than this detail, he can’t remember much else.

Poker community backs Jorstad

Jorstad believes he doesn’t owe 3% of his $10 million prize ($300K), but he’s willing to accept the decision of his peers. He’s asked reputable players, including Leonard, Mike McDonald, and Isaac Haxton to contact him with their opinion.

For clarity, Theologis is a Greek poker pro and coach for a number of poker training sites, including Run It Once. This doesn’t necessarily add any validity to his claim, but it’s also worth noting that he isn’t an unknown figure within the poker community.

The court of public opinion is currently swinging in Jorstad’s direction. Poker pro and WPT commentator Tony Dunst pointed to the fact Jorstad wrote down all of his swaps, except the one claimed by Theologis.

Pros Brian Rast and Josh Arieh had similar opinions, while David Peat, aka Viffer, stayed true to form and found a way to turn the issue into a bet.

It’s never easy at the top and Jorstad is finding that out the hard way. The incident also demonstrates the fine line poker players walk when they swap action.

Text messages and percentages written on scraps of paper don’t constitute legal contracts, which means verbal agreements are even less watertight.

If Jorstad is wrong or his peers believe compensation is due, he will pay Theologis his 3%. However, it may take some time to untangle this already messy situation.

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