Chris Bolek just earned his first World Series of Poker Circuit gold ring, but it was a prize that he didn't necessarily win. Rather, the ring was awarded to him, along with the first-place prize money, following an investigation surrounding Chan Pelton after he was caught attempting to remove a T25,000 chip from play at the end of the event.
As a result of the investigation, Pelton was stripped of the title, disqualified from the WSOP National Championship, banned from all Caesars properties, and will receive no prize money.
The removal of the chip is a violation of WSOP Tournament Rule 39, Section A, Part ii, and the Palm Beach Kennel Club where the event was held stated that Pelton’s intent was not considered in their investigation.
In accordance with Section D of Tournament Rule 39, Pelton was disqualified from the event and the title and first-place prize money was then awarded to Bolek, who immediately took to Twitter to voice his reaction: "I'll take it."
"As far as the actual act of stealing the chip, my first inclination was that he genuinely wanted a souvenir and that he just did something really boneheaded," Bolek told PokerNews on Wednesday, following the news of the ruling against Pelton. "I, in no way, felt cheated over the course of the tournament or questioned the result; and I still feel the same way now."
Bolek said he received news of the decision on Wednesday and that he was on the phone several times throughout the day. "If anything, I'd say I of course welcome the extra money, but the tournament win and accompanying benefits feel tainted, and I in no way think this is a win for me," he said.
With the additional prize money in his pocket, Bolek moved over the $400,000 mark for live tournament earnings. This "win," albeit whether or not Bolek truly believes it's a win, marked the third first-place finish of his career and third-largest live tournament score.
"Doesn't feel like a win whatsoever," Bolek added. "This result wasn't in my mind at all over the last two weeks, and I expected absolutely nothing to come of it at first."
Bolek is currently coming off his best year ever in poker, having won over $200,000 in 2013 including a victory in the Isle Poker Classic 2013 $2,500 Main Event in January for $96,000 and taking sixth in Event #30: $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em at the WSOP for over $58,000.
As for the WSOP Circuit, the tour is currently running its stop at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and will do so through March 3 before heading over to Los Angeles, CA and The Bicycle Casino beginning March 6.