The first controversy of the WSOP - Haxton calls out Soverel

Sam Soverel made a big mistake at the final table of the WSOP $50K, and many believe, it was intentional.

The 2019 WSOP has only started a few days ago, but the first big controversial hand already went down and it happened at the final table of the biggest event. The $50,000 High Roller tournament attracted 110 runners, creating a $5.28 million prize pool with $1.48 million to the winner.

Ben Heath was the last man standing, he took down the prize and the gold bracelet after beating Andrew "LuckyChewy" Lichtenberger heads-up.

Final results

Position Player Country Prize
1 Ben Heath United Kingdom $1,484,085
2 Andrew Lichtenberger United States $917,232
3 Sam Soverel United States $640,924
4 Dmitry Yurasov Russia $458,138
5 Nick Petrangelo United States $335,181
6 Chance Kornuth United States $251,128
7 Elio Fox United States $192,794
8 Cary Katz United States $151,755
9 David Einhorn United States $122,551

Even though the field was filled with household names and the final table was also made up of the world's best, it was a mistake made by Sam Soverel, which got the poker community talking.

The hand in question started at the 100,000/200,000/200,000 blind-level, with only four players left. Soverel opened from the cutoff, holding jack-nine of spades and Russia's Dmitry Yurasov moved in from the button with ace-ten of diamonds. The two had about the same amount of chips. After Lichtenberger quickly folded from the small blind, Ben Heath looked down at ace-queen of hearts. He asked for a chip count and then threw in a time-bank to make a decision.

At this moment, Sam Soverel quickly looked down at his cards once again and folded them. He instantly realized the mistake and its consequences. For those, who has lesser experience in tournaments: even though Sam acting out of turn can seemingly be meaningless, it made it much easier for Heath to make a call as he didn't have to worry about a third player only about Yurasov - and in this case, he can call with a much wider range.

Heath indeed made the call, Dmitry was seemingly upset about the whole situation, got up pretty angrily almost tossing his chair. He ended up losing the hand and exited in 4th place.

As Ben later explained with this exact hand, he would've called no matter what: "It was definitely going in either way. I think if I have a slightly worse hand then it could become a bit interesting, but I genuinely think he did it by mistake."

However, as many pointed out if this mistake was intentional by Soverel it was way beyond unethical and should've caused disqualification for him. Ike Haxton was one of the loudest critics on Twitter and several seasoned pros agreed with him. 

Isaac Haxton on Twitter

If this is reported accurately, anything less than disqualification and fourth place money for Sam is insufficient. You absolutely can't let people get away with shit like this at the final table of a $50k. @wsop 

Bonologic on Twitter

You can make up your own mind on Sam, but just know he has a history of pulling this shit He will just straight flip over someone's hand from the muck and then laugh about it. I've seen him do this 5+ times This is his rep:

Many others joined the conversation with the likes of the tournament directors, Kenny Hallaert: “That's seems a hard decision to me. I would go with 3 orbits. I can see the timebank card being taken as a chip. However, he should still pay attention and for sure get a penalty and I don't see any mention of that … Three orbits is the maximum penalty I give someone before DQ,”

Fellow TD Matt Savage also threw his two cents in: “No way someone gets DQ’ed for mistake but it does seem like a careless and maybe convenient error. How can you DQ the ‘High Roller Player of the Year?’”

Do you think Sam made an innocent mistake or did he do it on purpose? Let us know in the comments!