Controversy as Spectators Accuse Mike Leah of Buying WPT Title

February 14th, 2018 | by Kaycee James

Recent World Poker Tour (WPT) winner Mike Leah hasn’t received the applause he might have expected following calls that he bought the title.

Mike Leah

Canada’s Mike Leah has admitted to making a deal that eventually earned him a WPT title. (Image: World Poker Tour)

As news of the Canadian’s victory in the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic Main Event filtered across social media, questions about his his final table tactics were raised.

According to the February 13 live updates, Leah and second place finisher Ryan Yu took an unscheduled break after Tim Rutherford exited in third.

Break Leads to Suspect Play

Although unscheduled breaks aren’t uncommon following a lengthy final session, suspicions were aroused once the players returned. With Leah sitting on the short stack, Yu raised to 4 million from the button before folding to his opponent’s all-in for just 695,000 more.

The following hand saw Leah limp from the button, Yu raise to 5 million from a stack of 8.7 million and then fold to an all-in. By hand #101 it was all over when Leah’s 9♥5♠ caught a piece of the board to send Yu and his J♦8♠ to the rail.

But almost immediately after the confetti had finished falling on Leah and his WPT trophy, amateurs and pros started to question the series of events they’d witnessed.

Many Twitter commentators pointed out that deals weren’t allowed in the tournament, while others were unsure why any would try to buy a title if that’s what went on.

“It’s a pretty lame move to buy the trophy/tournament. Could understand the value of the play from a branding perspective for some people (Mike isn’t one of them). Don’t think it’s that big of a deal either way,” Doug Polk wrote on Twitter.

Leah Says a Deal Was Done

In response to his critics, Leah took the time to explain his version of events via his Facebook page. In addition to a general overview of his background in poker and his experience in the tournament, he detailed what went down heads-up.

According to Leah, it was Yu who first proposed a deal. Up until that point, the long-time pro hadn’t considered it, but he agreed to talk if he was able to secure the title. Eventually, after taking a moment to run the numbers, the pair agreed to an ICM chop.

With it now out in the open that he’d agreed to split the prizepool and take the title, Player of the Year Points and seat in the Tournament of Champions, Leah offered an apology of sorts.

“We were not trying to disrespect any parties involved but we were celebrating ours wins – and made a decision in our own best interests,” said Leah.

Since outlining what happened, many of Leah’s Facebook followers have been supportive of his decision. At this stage, the WPT hasn’t made any comment on the way in which its latest tournament champion was decided.


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