EPT Berlin Main Event Robbed Of $1 Million Prize-pool By Armed GunmenMarch 7, 2010 11:42 am
Up to six armed men carrying guns, machetes and possibly grenades caused havoc at the European Poker Tour Berlin Main Event, after making off with up to €1.1 million of the tournament’s prize-pool.
Almost 1,000 players had handed over their €5,000 entry fee, when at 2.15pm on Day four of the five day event the armed robbers burst into The Grand Hyatt Hotel in Berlin and, as eye-witness and poker participant Tobias Reinkemeier described:
“They screamed ‘armed robbery’. We didn’t know what was going on. Then there was panic and everyone jumped underneath tables before they tried to escape through the emergency exit.”
Carsten Mueller, a German photographer for ‘Bild am Sonntag’ newspaper, also described the moment when the gunmen first burst in to the building: “I was at the entrance to the poker hall when they stormed in. I saw three masked men struggling with security personnel in the room where cash is exchanged for chips. I saw one of the men stuffing 500 euro notes into a backpack.”
“A second pinned down a security guard with a machete to his chest. As they ran one of the security men pulled a robber to the ground. I couldn’t decide if this was all a PR stunt or not; it seemed incredible to believe that it could be a real robbery in the heart of Berlin in daylight.”
During the struggle, the gang were forced to relinquish one of the bags containing a large part of their haul before making off, and although initial reports indicated that the robbers managed to get away with up to $1.36 million, subsequent reporting says that figure may now be nearer to $272,000.
Seven people were slightly injured during the panic, but four hours later the poker players were able to take to their seats once again and resume the poker tournament.