There appears to be a bag thief in Vegas’ highstakes poker community and whoever it is has made off with what appears to be multiple 5- and 6-figure thefts in the last week alone. Highstakes reg Chris Brewer highlighted the apparently brazen and very lucrative robberies of chips and cash via Twitter…
Have heard two stories of people playing 50/100+ and having bags stolen at table while playing in Vegas this week. Just an FYI to people playing high stakes to be careful about having money in backpacks that can be swiped. Know from personal experience how much that sucks.
— Chris Brewer (@Chris_D_Brewer) March 11, 2022
No sooner had Brewer tweeted out the shocking news, than he was back again with another tale of audacious artifice: “Just got texted another case of someone having 100k stolen at 1/200. Be careful!”
Veronica Brill, she of the Postlegate whistleblower fame, backed up the extraordinary story, having been present during the robbery.
Brill explained: “ Yes, it happened at the Aria yesterday while I was there. There was a high stakes game going on on the upper floor of the Aria poker room. One of the guys from that game came over to talk to me and he told me that someone just got their backpack stolen with over 100k in it.”
Poker Twitter being what it is, the first cries were of the “who carries $100k in cash or chips with them and leaves their bag unattended?”
Quite a lot of people, apparently, and poker pro Will Jaffe was gobsmacked at the thief’s apparently cavalier attitude: “That’s crazy- is this just from the table? Like while the bag is hanging over their seat?”
Brewer replied: “Yeah, then person takes the chips and returns bag to [lost] and found I guess? Seems very planned and targeted.”
Why the thief or an accomplice would return the bag isn’t clear, but it wasn’t just the Aria – home to the PokerGO Studios and the return of the televised High Stakes Poker – that was in the thief, or thieves, sights.
A hop past the Bellagio fountains, a skip across South Las Vegas Boulevard, and a jump over Harrah’s, and the Venetian was apparently also on the hit list.
Andrew Moreno, who had his own, very legitimate, 6-figure score last month at the Venetian, not to mention a 7-figure scoop of the Wynn Millions last summer, shared the grapevine gossip.
I just heard a story about it happening at Venetian a few days ago in the tournament area.
— Andrew Moreno (@Amo4sho) March 11, 2022
Again, poker Twitter was quick to back up the rumours, one user responding: “Was last week… I was at the table where it happened… He did go to the bathroom and left the bag there. The crazy thing is nobody even saw it happen. The bag ended up a table over a little later with just the cash stolen. It was very odd.”
While some were wondering why security seems to be so lacking, it should be remembered that poker isn’t a house game.
Cameras, guards, and all manner of sophisticated technology are used to protect, track and trace the casino’s money…not so much a forgetful player’s bankroll that has been swiped.
When poker players are robbed it is generally done outside of the casino, in the car park such as when Joey Salvaggio had his WSOP Main Event buy-in stolen at gunpoint.
Poker pro Filipp Khavin is suing the owners of the Derby Lane Poker Room in St. Petersburg after he was shot in the stomach after leaving a highstakes cash game in 2019. He escaped with his life, but the cardroom was allegedly aware of multiple similar robberies and had done nothing to beef up security Khavin claims.
Other times the villains target players at their hotel, such as last year’s apparent attempted robbery of Shaun Deeb at the Rio during the WSOP.
Players’ homes have been targeted by armed thieves too, with highstakes pro and staker, Chad Power, having a safe containing $1million in cash and poker chips robbed.
Power believes he was followed home from the casino after a late-night game, his house targeted the following afternoon when he left, with two men captured on surveillance TV making off with the safe.
Inside, according to Power, was “approximately $750,000 in cash in $100 bill denominations, mostly organized into $50,000 bricks,” as well as “approximately $250,000 in high-value poker chips, including ten $25k chips from the Aria Hotel & Casino.”
As lucrative as poker robberies might seem, they don’t always end so well for the villains.
Michael Charles Cohen had already robbed the cashier’s cage at the Bellagio poker room once in 2017, but when he performed a copycat of his own heist two years later, it would be the last thing he ever did.
It should be said, however, that these high-profile thefts and robberies are the exception rather than the norm, but it certainly pays to be extra careful when carrying large sums of money. If someone is acting suspiciously, don’t be shy about reporting them to casino security or asking for help.
Meanwhile, the hunt for the Vegas highstakes bag thief continues…
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