WSOP Main Event Champ Espen Jorstad Accused of Stealing $300K, Alex Theologis Responds

WSOP Main Event Champ Espen Jorstad Accused of Stealing $300K, Alex Theologis Responds

This week, Alex Theologis cast aspersions on 2022 World Series of Poker World Champion Espen Jorstad over an alleged $300,000 debt. Details of the dispute came to light on August 29 courtesy of Jorstad. Following an incident at the Mediterranean Poker Party in Cyprus, the Main Event champ felt compelled to tell his side of the story. 

The story is an alleged swap with Greek poker pro Theologis. As explained by Jorstad, Theologis sent him private messages during and soon after the 2022 WSOP Main Event. The pair had spoken in Las Vegas and, according to Theologis in his viral post, they agreed to swap 3% in the Main Event. 

Swaps, for those who don’t know, involve two players sharing action in a tournament. In this instance, Theologis believes he offered 3% of anything he won in the Main Event in exchange for 3% of anything Jorstad won.

Theologis didn’t cash in the Main Event but, but as we all know, Jorstad won it. That performance secured him poker’s most coveted bracelet and $10 million. Therefore, if Theologis is correct and Jorstad agreed to swap 3%, the debt owed is $300,000. 

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The problem, however, is that Jorstad doesn’t remember swapping with Theologis. To compound matters, Theologis doesn’t remember how or when they agreed to the deal. What he does claim to remember is that a swap was agreed. 

Espen Jorstad disagrees and said so in a series of messages with Theologis. Aside from the fact he doesn’t have any memory of the swap, Jorstad doesn’t have any evidence. Critics could say he’s not being truthful but we already know Jorstad had swaps with other players.

Soon after winning $10 million, the Norwegian pro posted his summer results on Twitter. His post (see tweet above) detailed 14 different swaps ranging from 1% to 7.5%. When these swaps are taken into account, he banked 56% of his prize or, in real terms, $5.6 million. If Theologis is right, Jorstad should have banked $5.3 million.

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Poker Pros Give their Take on Swap Dispute

As expected, the Main Event champion’s post caught fire and, after being live for four days, it had generated more than 300 comments. Among those giving their take on the situation were some of the most experienced online poker players.

Patrick Leonard, who is friends with both players, said it’s a tricky situation. He acknowledged that handshake deals are legit and written evidence isn’t always necessary in these situations. However, he’s also cognizant of the fact neither party can remember making the deal and that, before the Main Event, they’d never swapped before. 

 

Also adding to the conversation were pros, recreational players, and Twitter trolls making light of the situation.

 

Matt Salsberg offered a different resolution. In the absence of certainty on both sides, he said Jorstad could agree to stake Theologis for half the money. The $150,000 could be spread over six $25,000 tournaments on a 50/50 split (Theologis gets half the prize money, Jorstad gets half).

Kayhan Mokri said he’s been swapping with Jorstad for the past five years and every deal has been confirmed via text. In his words, “no text, no swap.” Jorstad said he’ll pay Theologis if reputable members of the poker community rule that’s what should happen. Specifically, if Patrick Leonard, Isaac Haxton, and Mike McDonald believe a debt is owed, he’ll ship Theologis $300,000. 

Alex Theologis Responds

The viral thread eventually caught the attention of Theologis. He joined the Twitter discussion and clarified a few points (see tweets below).

He also said that he’s let go of the matter. His final response was buried deep within the comments, but it suggests he’s willing to take it as a lesson on how to handle swaps in the future. 

“I agree, providing proof is on me. As I had none, when Espen didn't remember the swap and refused to pay after a few conversations, I took it as an expensive lesson and gave up on it. The biggest misunderstanding here is that there's a debate on whether he should be obliged to pay,” Theologis tweeted. 

Getting to the top in poker is tough and things don’t get any easier once you’re there. The situation between Espen Jorstad and Alex Theologis appears to be solved. However, with poker being poker, there will almost certainly be another WSOP disagreement at the next series in 2023. 

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