WSOP Main Event Champ Espen Jorstad in Row Over $300K ‘Equity Swap’

Posted on: August 31, 2022, 10:20h. 

Last updated on: September 1, 2022, 12:48h.

The World Series of Poker’s newest Main Event champion, Espen Jorstad, is $10 million richer after charging to glory through a field of 8,632 others in July. But the Norwegian is finding that life at the top isn’t always smooth sailing.

espen jorstad
Espen Jorstad holds up the Main Event winner bracelet after his July 16 win. But another pro wants a cut of the $10 million prize money. (Image: Erik Verduzco/LVRJ)

Jorstad released a statement via Twitter Monday denying that he agreed to “swap” a piece of himself with another pro player in the Main Event. That’s after he says he was threatened by a stranger who accused him of welching.

Swapping equity with others is a common practice in tournament poker — a form of hedging that allows players to minimize risk by spreading their money more thinly. But Jorstad’s predicament highlights the problems that can arise around these often verbal agreements.

Fellow pro Alex “Pwndidi” Theologis claims he and Jorstad agreed to swap 3% of each other in the tournament. If true, that would mean Jorstad would owe Theologis $300K.

The problem is, Jorstad claims he can’t recall any such conversation ever taking place.

Rumor Mill

“After having a pretty uncomfortable experience a couple of days ago, it became clear to me that this is a situation that needs addressing before the rumor mill gets going,” Jorstad wrote on Twitter. “It’s important to me to tell my side of the story here, as people absolutely love gossiping about situations like this, and I don’t want it to get out of hand.”

The champ goes on to explain that on Day 7 of the Main Event, which fell on July 7, Theologis contacted him via Instagram to remind him about the alleged swap.

Jorstad responded that he had no record of any such agreement with the Greek player, who busted the main event without reaching the money.

F*** I knew this would happen when I didn’t write down in chat with my [swaps],” Theologis wrote. “I am sure that we swapped 3% at some point, maybe it was on our way or during dinner? Maybe at the Wynn? I’m not sure at what point but I’ve swapped with everyone and I’m very confident we swapped.”

“That’s awkward indeed,” replied Jorstad. “I don’t remember swapping with you, and I have all my swaps in a list here.”

For transparency, Jorstad posted the list in a message to Theologis. It showed he had 56% of his own action in the Main Event, swapping percentages with 14 other players from 1% to 7.5%.

Veiled Threats

Jorstad was moved to go public about the disagreement after he said he was approached at a cash game in Cyprus by a man he did not know. The man pointed at Jorstad, saying, “Pay the man his money, pay the man his money. You know what I’m talking about, pay him his 3%,” before making a veiled threat of violence, according to Jorstad.

Jorstad said he didn’t believe Theologis had put the man up to it, but the rumors were clearly getting out of hand. He was adamant there was no swap, but he was willing to enter into arbitration with Theologis if the poker community believed it was necessary.

But the community was largely backing the champ on this one.

“I think he [Theologis] believes there was a swap convo between you, but swap is off if there’s 0 recollection and no record,” top pro Fedor Holz told Jorstad.