Last night, as Mark Vos was busy defeating Nam Le in gritty heads-up play at the final table of the $2,000 No-Limit tournament, and the first day of the $2,000 Omaha Hi-Lo event wound steadily down towards the bubble, controversy erupted at the cash games.
At table 165, located along the rail that bisects the floor of the Amazon Room, one player cried foul and another made a mad dash for the exit. Suddenly, security was everywhere, and angry looking men in suits talked nervously into their cell phones. My interest was piqued.
With information cobbled together from a number of dealers, corroborated by the victim himself (who will remain anonymous, for privacy reasons), and bolstered by my own detective work, I managed to find out that just before midnight last night a cash game was robbed.
The victim had inexplicably left the table, and was absent when the thief reached into his stack, grabbing handfuls of WSOP chips and between $4,500 and $5,000 in cash. The thief then made for the hallway, where he succeeded in evading capture and eventually escaped into the night, pursued in vain by the Rio's security contingent.
Apparently, security at the casino had been unexpectedly light around the time of the robbery. I overheard supervisors questioning security guards and explaining into their cell phones that a guard had not been present in his usual spot at the cash-out podium during the incident. Table 165 is positioned such that were a guard in that position, he would have immediately been able to react to the situation and would likely have been able to intercept the thief before he reached the hallway. Just where the missing security guard actually was at the time of the robbery is unclear, although suspicions were raised that he had already gone off-duty.
Staff at the Rio, to their credit, immediately notified Las Vegas Metro Police, and gathered as many witnesses as they could find to make private statements as to the nature of the crime. The dealer at the table was debriefed and instructed to remain on-site while the investigation proceeded, and supervisors were woken up and brought to the scene immediately.
Unfortunately, security cameras over the table were only able to catch the back of the thief's head and his hands as they committed the crime. However, due to the presence of witnesses (it was a live game at a full table that was robbed), and the large number of security cameras positioned throughout the casino, chances are reasonable that the perpetrator will be brought to justice.
Casino officials were understandably tight-lipped about the affair as they tried to sort out what exactly had gone wrong. PokerListings.com will continue to track this story as it develops, and we'll keep you posted when new information becomes available.
So that's how an average poker reporter becomes a hard-nosed investigative journalist. It wasn't your average day at the WSOP, but then, is there ever such a thing?