After three years of taking the C$1,100 side event at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Fallsview Poker Classic, Mike Leah finally won the Main Event last week but the win was shrouded in controversy due to an interesting deal. Mike Leah won the C$5,000 WPT Fallsview Poker Classic No-Limit Hold’em Main Event against Ryan Yu for C$451,821 in prize money. Yu took home C$301,217 at second place.
Controversial Deal Cut During Bathroom Break
The win was a long-time goal for Leah, who came ever so close to winning the title and trophy in 2015 when he lost to Anthony Zinno. This time, when he came heads-up against Yu at the Main Event, he was prepared to thrown it all in and push hard for the title. An unscheduled break and a publicized deal after, Yu’s raise-folded away all but a handful of his chips in a few consecutive hands and Leah emerged the champ.
It turned out that a deal was worked out between Yu and Leah during the bathroom break into the heads-up, where Yu gave way for Leah to take home the title in exchange for an even Independent Chip Model (ICM) chop. Because of this deal, many people started bashing Leah for taking the deal and calling his trophy a bought trophy.
One of the biggest critics of the Leah-Yu deal was World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet holder Grant Hinkle, who said that major league events such as the WPT Fallsview should be played out instead of settled with a deal. According to Hinkle, Leah would have had lost if the deal was not drawn since Yu had him 2-1 in chips.
Poker fan Lance Williams did not hold back on his words either and called Leah an ‘embarrassment to poker’. William said that the deal was unethical and that it was a slap in the face for poker players who would have battled it out until the end. William even called for Leah to be banned from future events.
Leah Responds To Growing Criticism via Social Media
The long awaited Main Event win which should have brought much joy to Leah ended up bringing him a lot of criticism from players and fans. Leah decided to respond and share his side of the story via a lengthy Facebook post.
According to Leah, he went into the WPT Fallsview Main Event confident that he was going to make it and win the Main Event title. The thought of a deal or an ICM never occurred to him throughout the competition until Yu mentioned it during the break. Leah said that Ryan was a poker acquaintance and that they were friends on Facebook and shared a lot of common friends. Leah added that he held utmost respect for Yu’s game even though they did not know each other personally.
When Yu proposed the deal, Leah made it clear that he was not taking it unless he came out of it with the trophy. When Yu said he’d be okay as long as they worked out an even ICM, Leah decided to go ahead and take the deal.
Leah said that the deal was pretty comprehensive and he and Yu calculated the stacks, payouts, took into account the $15,000 seat, and even considered the tips they were giving out to the dealers and staff. After working out the deal, Leah and Yu went back to the table and made no effort to hide that that had a deal in place. Leah explained that their deliberate joking at the last hands was in no way done to disrespect the parties involved in the event, but was their way to celebrate their win.
According to his post, Leah was in a backing deal during the first six to seven years of his poker career so he really was not able to make decisions of his own during this time. In the last three years, he started finally playing and making all the decisions for himself and despite the many instances that came up, Leah believed that he turned down more chops than most people.
In response to his many haters over the deal, Leah said that everyone is free to make their own opinions. In a statement, Leah said “If you want to pretend my results over the years are tarnished because I made a deal HU ok; you’re free to your opinion… You have to get there before you can even consider making a deal and I get there more than you.”