Poker’s come a long way from its shady Wild West past and mob-rule cardrooms of old. But while the multi-million industry continues to spread its wings, crime still punctures the poker sphere from time to time and this year’s been no different.
On October 10th 2010, pro Scott Montgomery took a break from his table at the Bellagio to answer nature’s call. His subsequent mugging got PokerPlayer thinking: What are the biggest robberies in recent poker history?
1. Zee Germans are coming!!
Imagine the surprise as you take your seat in the business end of a tournament only for masked gunmen to arrive demanding ‘your clothes, your shoes and your chips’.
This was the scene confronting 20 players in this year’s EPT Berlin Main Event when four heavily armed robbers stormed the Grand Hyatt Hotel’s casino, taking off with over $300,000 from the High Roller prizepool.
Luckily no one was seriously injured, but there wasn’t a clean pair of keks in the house when the crooks, clad head-to-toe in ski masks and brandishing shiny machetes and pea-shooters, scuffled with security before making off in their getaway car.
Once the terror had subsided, bloggers and commentators alike recoiled in horror as players were called back to the casino floor, the ever understated American pro Kevin ‘ImaLuckSac’ MacPhee claiming: ‘It was a pretty freeky thing to have happen’.
And while we didn’t have to wait too long for the crooks to begin a new life behind bars, only $5,000 of the loot has been recovered, giving a whole new meaning to the term ‘stealing the blinds’.
2. I just lost the game
To some, paying £20 for a poker strategy book is daylight robbery. But renowned author and three-time WSOP bracelet winner David Sklansky would disagree.
The game theorist was on the unfortunate end of a home invasion last summer when two gunmen broke into his Las Vegas lair demanding a share of his career earnings.
But they didn’t bank on Sklansky channelling the calm poker pro within. After years of preparing himself for a such a situation, the 44-year-old was sure that if anyone else had been in his shoes it could have finished ‘terribly’ and kept a cool head until the robbers retreated.
‘I have no personal animosity toward these guys. They used the absolute lowest level of force necessary to accomplish their purposes. . . . if this is being read by the robbers, I would request that they mail me those few things (photos, etc.) that are of no value to them, but are to me,’ an optimistic Sklansky wrote afterwards.
This was the fifth time Sklansky had found himself staring down a barrel. He must just have one of those faces.
Full the full blow-by-blow account of Sklanky's great escape click here:
3. Raymer’s bulge
2004 Main Event champ Greg Raymer may be renowned for giving personalised fossils out in tournaments but that doesn’t make him a sap.
After a great night at the Vegas cash tables in 2004, Raymer was targeted outside his Bellagio hotel room when crooks’ eyes were drawn to the massive bulge in his trousers.
With a reported $150,000 stretching his pocket seems, the fossilman fought tooth and nail to keep hold of his wad, even sticking to his guns when threatened with a few bullet holes.
The strategy worked and security eventually chased his attackers away, leaving Raymer to count his lucky stars and what must have been a mountain of green bills.
‘I don't write this to brag, I just want any robbery-minded people out there who hear about this to know that I'm a tough mark, and they won't get that much off me even if they succeed,’ he later posted online.
4. Piss take
2008 November Niner and WSOP bracelet winner Scott Montgomery became the latest victim of poker crime after he was mugged in a Vegas restroom this October.
During a Bellagio preliminary event for the Festa al Lago, Montgomery was cornered by a ‘Black guy’ with a knife, according to his Twitter account, and told to hand over the $2,000 in his wallet and go about his business.
Ever complimentary of the Casino’s security staff, Montgomery went on to tweet: ‘Security pretty much just said oh well, life sucks, have a nice day. I’m pretty annoyed.’
The 29-year-old should count his lucky stars he didn’t become a human kebab. No doubt his $4.1 million in live winnings and partner Annette Obrestad helped to soften the blow.
5. Dolly Mix
Doyle Brunson’s been robbed more times than he can remember, although these days he can’t remember much.
Old Texas Dolly’s been the victim of stick-ups, home invasions, casual muggings, beatings and a probably a pick pocket or two, but that doesn’t mean he can’t think on his feet - or cane.
During the 2005 World Series, Brunson returned home from an Omaha event to find two masked men patiently waiting on his law. When a pistol was shoved in his face, Brunson feigned a heart attack knowing full well that a silent alarm had been triggered in his house and all he needed was time.
‘Five times this guy put the gun right to my head and said, ‘You’re fixin’ to die’,’ Doyle revealed. ‘I thought that if I was going to die, I was just going to die right there and then.’
A series of events saw Brunson’s wife hauled out of bed, a couple of phone calls from the alarm company and his attackers escaping with little more than $200 and some worthless casino chips. Clearly you don’t win 10 bracelets without knowing your way out of a sticky situation.