WSOP Main Event's Martin Staszko Foiled Kidnap PlotMay 22, 2014 1:24 pm
Back in 2010, Jonathan Duhamel may have won the WSOP Main Event for $8,944,310, but a year later the Canadian pro was subjected to a brutal home invasion robbery, highlighting the dangers faced by the players involved in an industry founded upon big egos and huge sums of money.
Unfortunately, the history of poker is replete with similar harrowing tales, including one would-be robber trying but failing to relieve 2004 WSOP Champ Greg ‘Fossilman’ Raymer of the $150,000 in cash he was carrying about with him the very same year he won the showcase event for $5 million.
Nevertheless, its not just WSOP Main Event winners who draw attention from would be criminal elements and recently we learnt that mild mannered 2011 WSOP Main Event runner-up Martin Staszko was also the intended target of a kidnapping plot involving a vicious gang of potential killers. According to a news article reported by Czech Republic media outlet PokerArena.cz, thirteen days after Martin Staszko won $5,433,086 in Las Vegas, he was lined up as a victim for the gang whose modus operandi involved inviting wealthy people to fake poker games before kidnapping and extorting large sums of money from them.
Apparently the swindle was organized by crime lord boss Michael Svab, and while some of his past victims were robbed before being eventually released, at least two unfortunates ended up dead. As the PokerArena.cz report explains; “those (businessmen) who elected to take the proposed trips ended up kidnapped and blackmailed and in two cases, they even never returned back to their families.”
Martin Staszko, too, faced the same potential threat to his life after the chairman of the then Czech Poker Association was contacted by Šváb, under the fake name of Robert Kelner, wanting “to treat his [Staszko’s] father an unusual Christmas gift – a private poker game in Cannes featuring the newborn superstar.”
Fortunately for Staszko, the chairman sensing a deception possibly involving a rigged game, declined the offer on Staszko’s behalf and since then seven men have been arrested and if found guilty will likely face a lifetime behind bars.
Nevertheless, its not just big poker winners that become the potential targets of ruthless criminals, and a few weeks back the poker community was shocked to learn that UK player Mehmet Hassan, 56, was tied up, beaten and left to die in his North London flat after winning just £3,000 at the Palm Beach casino in Mayfair. Therefore, players should take note of the recent increase in poker related violence, and continue to remain vigilant at all times.