You’ve seen the money, the glitz, the glamour, and all the fancy television shows, but there is more to poker than million-dollar buy-ins: there is also a dark side. Never mind the problems with gambling addiction and bankroll management, we’re talking about the violent side of poker—the deadly side of poker. Check out our list below for nine difference cases where players lost more than just a poker hand.
9. Perez Kills Prince Over Table Spot
This story is so ridiculous we wish it wasn’t true. Sixty-one year-old Arthur Prince was killed in the valet area outside of the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City by 57 year-old Vicente Perez after a dispute. The argument wasn’t over money, or cheating, or anything that high-stakes, but instead over a simple poker seat.
Prince became enraged after Perez inadvertently took his seat at the poker table. Prince claimed that he told the dealer to save his spot, but the dealer apparently didn’t hear Prince. After going to the ATM to get another buy-in, Prince found Perez in his seat and the two got into an argument. Eventually, Perez got up from his seat and went outside, which only further enraged Prince. The argument continued outside and turned violent, and Prince began beating Perez with his own walking cane. Perez pulled a knife out and stabbed Prince in the neck, hitting an artery and leading to Prince’s death.
8. Crittenden Clips The Cheats
In February 2014, Duane Crittenden II was arrested after killing three players at his private poker game in Palatka, Florida. Crittenden, who claimed players on the table were cheating him, left the game for a few hours only to return armed with a gun and a knife and killed the other three players in the game. According to police, Crittenden then stole between $2000 and $9000 from the poker game.
Crittenden had 18 previous convictions, none of them violent. I don’t know about you, but I won’t be inviting Duane Crittenden II to my home poker game anytime soon.
7. Girl Drinks Herself to Death Playing ‘Water Poker’
This one is not only tragic, it’s also incredibly bizarre. A 12-year-old girl on the Åland Islands, located between Finland and Sweden, died after consuming six liters of water in a school game of “water poker,” the rule of game being that the loser of each hand had to drink a whole glass of water. After consuming nearly 3x the daily adult limit, the young girl suffered brain complications and died shortly after. We still don’t’ really get it.
6. Poker Pro Kills Parents to Collect $1M Inheritance
California poker pro Ernest Scherer III was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for killing his own parents, Ernest Scherer Jr., 60, and Charlene Abendroth, 57, in order to collect a $1 million inheritance. Scherer was desperate for money to pay off gambling-related debts, a loan on his house (given to him by his parents), and to keep up his lavish lifestyle, which included having numerous girlfriends all around the United States.
5. Poker Pro Escapes Two Robberies in the Same Day
“Once lucky, twice confident, and thrice dead.”
Poker pro Eric Riley was almost robbed not once, but twice, in a span of minutes in Atlantic City.
On his way to the airport, Riley, who was carrying a bag containing $100,000 in cash, caught a ride with his newfound “friend” Junior. The friendship was short-lived, however, because as soon as Riley got out of the car, Junior drove away from the airport terminal with the trunk open and Riley’s bag of money still in the back.
Riley quickly hailed down a cab, throwing $400 at the driver and telling him to “Follow that car!” Riley would eventually catch up with Junior’s car a few blocks away, where he hopped out of the cab and grabbed his bag from the back of the trunk. Sounds like a happy ending, right? Not just yet.
Moments later, a black car pulled up and two men claiming to be undercover cops offered Riley a ride to the airport. Once inside the car, one of the men pulled a gun out and demanded the bag full of cash. Riley refused and managed to jump out of the moving car and onto the highway with his bag. Despite a few superficial wounds and some ruined clothing, Riley managed to escape with both his health and his hard-fought winnings.
4. Don’t Mess With The Devilfish
If you think Dave “The Devilfish” Ulliott is intimidating on the poker table, you wouldn’t have wanted to run into him when he was in his early twenties and part of a safe-cracking team. One member of his team was caught by the police and informed law enforcement officials that Ulliott was involved. After hiding out from the police for a week, Ulliott was eventually arrested and sentenced to nine months in jail. He spent his 21st birthday in solitary confinement.
Not quite finished with his lawless streak, Devilfish was arrested again shortly after his release for armed robbery, before eventually being released. At age 28, Devilfish was arrested for a fight outside of a nightclub and served 18 months in both Leeds and Durham prisons. Since then, Ulliott has not been connected to a crime… at least none that we know of.
3. The Kid Dies Young
Stu Ungar was one of the greatest poker players to ever play the game, winning the WSOP Main Event in 1980, 1981, and 1997, as well as an estimated $30 million. He also happened to have problems with substance abuse, battling cocaine addiction for several years.
On Friday, November 20, 1998, Stu Ungar checked into a cheap motel in Las Vegas. Two days later, he was found dead in his room.
A month before his death, Stu called his addiction “a sickness. I guarantee you it’s taken 10, 15 years off my life.” At the time of his death, Ungar, age 45, had no assets to his name.
2. Main Event Champion Robbed at Gunpoint by Own Girlfriend
Even World Champion’s aren’t exempt from the dangers of poker.
In 2010, Jonathan Duhamel won the 2010 WSOP Main Event, taking home a first-place prize of $8.9 million. Soon after, he had a six-month relationship with Bianca Rojas-Latraverse. Although it looked like they ended their relationship amicably, Rojas-Latraverse had other plans.
During the 2011 holiday season, two men broke way into Duhamel’s Boucherville, Quebec condominium, heavily assaulted the WSOP champ, and forced him to open his safe. The thieves stole a $10,000 PokerStars Rolex Submariner watch, $115,000 cash, and Duhamel’s Main Event bracelet, valued at $50,000.
A week later, four suspects, including Rojas-Latraverse were arrested. The WSOP bracelet was found near a dumpster, and nearly half of Duhamel’s money was recovered. During the trial, Rojas-Latraverse was described as the mastermind of the operation and sentenced to 42 months.
1. The Dead Man’s Hand
One of the most famous poker hands of all time also happened to be one of the deadliest, and we mean that in the literal sense. Legendary Wild West gunfighter “Wild Bill” Hickok was playing five-card draw in Deadwood, Dakota, when Jack McCall came up from behind and shot him in the back of the head. Reportedly, Hickok died while holding As-Ac-8s-8c, which is now known forever as the Dead Man’s Hand. McCall was eventually hanged for the crime.