This was the week... Armed gunmen stormed the European Poker Tour

A montage of images from the EPT Berlin armed robbery in 2010
Author Adam Hampton
Adam Hampton
Posted on: March 07, 2024 23:25 PST

Firing all three barrels, chopping the pot, shoving to punish the limpers… there’s a violence in poker lingo that evokes the often-visceral thrills of a game where aggression is not just recommended, but essential. But in an arena where only the defeated get up from their comfy chairs, that violence is usually metaphorical. Usually.

That changed in an instant, this week in 2010, when a group of masked men armed with guns and a machete launched an audacious and shocking attack on the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Berlin, where the EPT was in full swing.

Thankfully no one was seriously injured in the chaos that ensued, which allowed news reports of the event to cram in as many poker puns as they could without veering too far into the realms of bad taste. See for yourself…

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Hit and run

It was March 6, 2010: the EPT Berlin Main Event was nearing its conclusion and - probably not by chance - players were buying in for that day’s €10k High Roller event. Four men, with handguns and a machete, rushed the registration desk and made off with hundreds of thousands of Euros in cash.

The noisy assault was designed to cause panic among the assembled crowds, and did just that. While the robbers never entered the tournament area itself, players quickly caught wind of what was happening and rushed for the exits, leading to a minor stampede as the floor quickly cleared.

Busted

The gang made a relatively clean getaway, though they reportedly dropped a chunk of their loot on the way out. But as the players and staff were running, so were the security cameras. As a result the perpetrators were apprehended within a few days.

The gang consisted of the four men who entered the hotel bearing weapons as well as two of the heist’s organizers - one of whom is believed to have played in the event earlier that week as a means to ‘case’ the venue for his accomplices.

While over €100k reportedly remains unrecovered, the apprehended criminals were convicted and shipped off to jail for up to six years.

Back at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on March 6, meanwhile, cards were soon back in the air. While one €1k side event was canceled, the tournament schedule suffered only minor disruption and all events paid out in full. The Main Event concluded the following day, with winner Kevin Macphee banking the €1m first prize, and zero days’ jail time.

Because while crime doesn’t pay, good poker does.