After more than a decade of poker, Mike Leah secured his first World Poker Tour (WPT) trophy last week at the 2018 WPT Fallsview Poker Classic in Niagara Falls.
But Leah’s win has become a subject of controversy since the trophy was won via a deal during the Main Event’s heads-up with Ryan Yu.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Leah explained the entire story of how the deal happened, saying he was not interested to participate in any chop until Yu offered him the title and the trophy in exchange of an even Independent Chip Model (ICM).
Leah, who wanted the WPT trophy so bad, decided it was too good a deal to pass up and settled with Yu their cuts of the payout, the stacks, and even the tips for the dealers and staff.
What other poker players think about the ‘deal
While Leah defended himself that settling a deal is a practice many poker players employ during tournaments, many poker enthusiasts called him out and claimed that his win was unethical. World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner Grant Hinkle was one of the biggest critics of Leah and Yu’s deal and said that Leah did not deserve the win because Yu had him 2-1 in chips during the heads up. Grant added that Leah’s move to secure the trophy via a deal “cheapened” the value of his WPT trophy and it now shed doubt over all the wins he had in the past.
Grant’s brother, Blair agreed with Grant’s sentiments and said via Twitter that titles and trophies should be earned and won, not negotiated. Canada’s Matt Salsberg even got into a conversation with Yu, after he tweeted that the result of the deal impacts not just the two of them but the whole Player of the Year (POY) race because the POY scores awarded to Yu and Leah were
Despite the critics, some poker players went to Yu and Leah’s defense. One of them was Canadian Vanessa Kade, who said that chip dumping is only cheating when it’s among multiple players at the table as some of the players do not know what’s going on. In Yu and Leah’s case, both were consenting players and they both facilitated their own deals. American poker pro Alex Keating echoed Kade’s sentiments, saying that no one did wrong since no one bought trophies or POY points.
Yu took to Twitter to post his response to the backlash and said that he offered Leah the deal because he was in no way interested in the fame that the WPT trophy carried.
— Ryan Yu (@ineedsheet) February 16, 2018