Many players are becoming wary about attending live poker tournaments after $358,000 was stolen in a daring midday robbery at the European Poker Tour event in Berlin on March 6th.
The PokerStars.com European Poker Tour began in 2004 as a smaller version of the World Poker Tour. It has since grown to become Europe’s most popular and profitable poker tour. This year’s tour has 13 different stops including the prestigious EPT Grand Final which will be played in Monte Carlo this April. While poker related robberies have taken place in the US from time to time this is the first robbery to affect a major tournament and leaves many asking how secure these events are.
Camera crews recording the tournament action got more than they bargained for when four men arrived with guns and machetes and announced that it was an armed robbery. The footage from the tournament shows players ducking for cover under tables and vying for the exit. The amateur gang was unable to get away with most of the money thanks to the intervention of one of the security guards, police said. Police have since gradually reeled in all the gang members after March 17 when one of the gang turned himself in. The Associated Press reported that Mustafa Ucarkus was arrested last Saturday as well as the fourth suspect, พุชชี่888 Jihad Chetwie, was arrested upon his return from Beirut.
Several media sources are reporting that the authorities took a fifth suspect into their custody on Monday. This individual in question is a 28-year old Lebanese citizen and is believed to be one who organized the robbery and subsequent escape.
The Berlin stop of the EPT attracted nearly 950 participants including former tennis champ Boris Becker and featured a 4.7 million euro prize pool. However, the robbery occurred after most of the players had already been eliminated. The game continued a few hours after the robbery and the million euro grand prize was eventually claimed by American Kevin MacPhee.