Poker Top Twenty Tragedies


Krunal Mehta was an Indian poker player who used to play on PokerBaazi and other online poker sites.

One day he came back home with his wife and two sons from a dance event. He was living in Rajkot, then he moved out of the house and was not found until morning, when his body was fished out of a well.

He had left a suicide note stating that he had lost over 110,000 USD in a game on and he had this in the form of a debt taken from relatives and friends and he was commmiting suicide due to debt woes and financial constraints.

He used to regularly lose large sums of money playing online poker. 

It is to be noted that gambling is not legalized in India, and there is no authority or jurisdiction that would foresee if the games are run in a fair manner or not.

Despite this Indians have been playing at online poker sites in large numbers and suffering losses.

With majority of the Indian poker sites getting allegations that cheating is happening and most have been rated as 1 star or 2 star at online review sites like

His case is well documented by various news sites



Johannes Strassman died on 21st June 2014, in Ljubljana.

He was missing and was found dead in a river.

He was an extremely talented player and a very strong winner.

If you see his results they are astounding!

Below are his statistics from TheHendonMob

Major and Recurring Tournament Statistics

Statistics from all major events and recurring events.

                World    Europe The Americas     Rest of the World

Total      $ 1,558,401          $ 1,395,107          $ 115,524             $ 47,770

2014       $ 33,757                $ 33,757                –              –

2013       $ 420,642             $ 363,842             $ 56,800                –

2012       –              –              –              –

2011       –              –              –              –

2010       $ 265,891             $ 265,891             –              –

2009       $ 117,509             $ 112,646             $ 4,863  –

2008       $ 595,569             $ 517,280             $ 30,519                $ 47,770

2007       $ 125,033             $ 101,691             $ 23,342                –

There are theories that he was high on hallucinogenic drugs and he disappeared suddenly.

If he was kidnapped or murdered no-one knows. But with such a track record it seems hardly unlikely that he commited suicide.


Alessandro Bastiononi was an Italian poker professional.

His suicide too is very well documented. It is reported that he lost over 600,000 dollars. He was found dead in a luxury apartment in Miraflores, Peru due to apparent poisoning.

He told his girlfriend that he had huge debts and that he had lost a lot of money. His dead body was recovered from his hotel room after 10 days.

His suicide is well documented in news too. It is alleged that he took a mix of cocktail of drugs to commit painless suicide. 



Brandi Hawbaker is a really sad story.

It’s about a girl having mental issues, having no job, and dreams of becoming the ultimate poker professional and making a living at it.

She tried to do everything, she mingled with the best poker players.

She lived with the poker players and that too notable poker players like Mark Newhouse, then casino pit boss, and other players in hoping to learn their secrets.

But she kept on destroying everything, her mind had too much chaos in it.

She wanted release and ultimately she was found dead in her bathtub in apparent suicide.

She had suffered a lot and had to move from place to place.

A lot of people tried to malign her name, they tried to show to others how much they helped her. All their help was phony, it was a way to abuse and use her.

Finally with all the abuse and online trolling and live trolling, plus mounting poker losses she was forced to commit suicide.

Her name was spoilt already and she could not approach anyone and get sympathies or finances.

There is a very big twoplustwo thread on her.



Dennis Blieden won a million dollars in LAPC 10k buy-in poker tournament.

However he had been embezzling funds from his employer’s account to fund his gambling.

He was working in StyleHaul company which shut down US  operations and moved to london office after this scam was unearthed.

Blieden had already moved out 22 million dollars from his employer’s accounts.

Blieden now faced 200 years in jail for his crime.

In his own words it started with a couple of thousand dollars, but it kept becoming bigger and bigger as he kept on chasing losses.

And before he knew it, he had already moved 22 million dollars to his own personal accounts.

His stats from TheHendonMob are as  follows

Statistics from all major events and recurring events.

  World The Americas
Total $ 1,060,394 $ 1,060,394
2019 $ 36,603 $ 36,603
2018 $ 1,000,000 $ 1,000,000
2017 $ 21,148 $ 21,148
2016 $ 2,643 $ 2,643



Greg Raymer is the 2004 Main Event champion. He won 5 million dollars in 2004 and before that he had reported winnings since 1996. So he had spent a lot of time playing poker already.

However even after this big score in 2004 his winnings remained lacklustre and since 2004 Main event finish he has not been able to get any notable finish.

This does not appear to cause much concern but the real tragedy is that a person who has achieved this much in Poker and has become famous will start thinking of himself as having become the ultimate poker professional. He would ignore the luck element of poker.

So Greg Raymer believed in himself and kept on playing high value poker tournaments in which he did not have any edge and he kept losing big amounts until he was broke or close to broke.

Or enough down that he had to open a poker school and do other activities for income.

Now not only this he responded to a prostitute ad which was actually a trap by the police itself, he appeared at the hotel, hoping to get adult services but the police arrested him.

He received much public attention and his case has been widely reported in the media and he has been the point of satire on twoplustwo forums as well.

And if this was not enough he was widely reported to be looking for stake and broke.

If he had invested his big poker winnings in ING account getting interest he would have made at least 3500$ per month. Now that would be an additional supplement to his income, this is taking into account that Raymer netted at least 1.7 million dollars taking into account taxes and paying his backer although I doubt he had a backer in that tournament as claims go.



Matt “notnmyhouse” Roth was a poker player primarily on PokerStars and FullTiltPoker before American authorities shut down online poker.

His pocket fives profile link is

He had been making good money at online poker.

His last big cash was 12,579$ on 3/18/2013 on April 23, 2013 he was dead by self inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

He left behind a wife and a son named Brandon. His father’s name is Bill Roth and he himself had dropped him to the airport for Las Vegas.

His friend Josh Norum said that Matt Roth had an amazing personality and he was very competitive. Since 18 years of age he had won a lot of money at online poker.

On April 15, 2011 Poker Black Friday happened and most pros like Daniel Negreanu relocated to Canada. Most had major problems as their money was stuck at various poker sites suddenly and withdrawals were halted.

However but wait a minute when we see his poker account, and cashes stream on pocket fives we hardly see any stoppage and it seems he was able to play normally even after black friday, was he able to play from another jurisdiction we don’t know. But his father’s premise that poker black friday killed his son doesn’t seem the right explanation for his suicide.

It is my personal opinion that as his username suggests his parents did not approve of him of his playing poker or making a career out of poker and there was a constant struggle in the family.

It could be that he was taking loans from his parents and staying at their place and in the initial days he could be struggling with online poker. His parents might also have held a religious point of view which forbade them for his poker playing, but all we have got his viewpoints about what could have happened.

We also do not know if it could be a murder disguised as a suicide, because as far as we know he did have a big cash just last month and in just 2 days he was dead in Las Vegas.



Inclusion of Stu Ungar’s son is very important. Not much coverage has been given to his death.

However Stu Ungar’s is a real tragedy and so is his son, it shows how even the greatest poker players can suffer tragic fate.

On 22nd November 1998 at the Oasis Motel Las Vegas Nevada Stu Ungar was found dead at the checkout time by hotel employees.

It is alleged that two adult workers left his hotel room leaving him. Stu Ungar was often broke and Bob Stupak had signed an agreement with him to take over his debts and to enable him to play in major tournaments by staking him.

Only 800$ was remaining of the 25,000$ advance given by Bob Stupak to enable Stu Ungar to play major tournaments. Where the rest of the money went, or if it was stolen by the prostitutes who visited him in the night we do not know.

Stu Ungar’s son Richie Ungar committed suicide when he reached 18 years of age.

Stu Ungar himself won several times millions of dollars but was broke very fast, it could be possible that he had become compulsive gambler due to the drug use. He never opened any bank account.

Funds had to be raised to cremate Stu Ungar.

Another aspect of Stu Ungar was he was very generous and careless with money, he would give other people with no regards if he would get it back from them. Unfortunately he was not generous with his own family, and his family too suffered tragically. They saw a little good time but mostly it was tragic with death of Stu and his son Richie. His was was single for 29 years.



Ashiwini Jhunjhunwala transferred from his Goldman Sachs account $5.4 million dollars to an overseas trading company account.

He was promised 400,000$ if he did this.

Ashwini was already down over a 100,000USD of his own or probably more and had debts of 70,000USD.

He was VP in Goldman Sachs and he used his junior’s account to transfer 5.4million dollars into a Hong Kong firm’s account.

The head of the Bangalore Goldman Sachs filed a police complaint and after interrogation of Ashwini he cracked and accepted that he had done this fraud.

Ashwini was arrested and faces a long time behind bars, he leaves behind his wife and children.



Gavin Smith was found dead on Jan 14th 2019.

His total live tournament winnings exceed 5 million dollars. However he had a drinking problem, he was also bad with money and was mostly broke and was being backed for tournaments.

He used to play low and mid stakes cash games. His pokerstars id is birdguts. And his last tournament appears to be  5k buy-in on 9/28/2010 where he finishes 2118 out of 2443 opponents.

His official cause of death is not known, but it appears to be suicide which has been miffed down, a gofundme campaign was launched for his children and it managed to raise nearly 72k  dollars or more from the poker community. This implies the family itself was broke and had no assets.


12 Max Bloom Suicide or Murder?

Max Bloom was an American poker player he was found dead on 28th Jan 2019.

This poker pro had relocated out of USA after poker black friday and was playing Makati city, philippines. Makati City is the financial hub in philippines and is known for skyscrapers, it is one of the premier locations in the Philippines.

Here is a report from a philippines newspaper. 

“The Makati City Police are investigating whether a Filipino-American fallen or suicide, found in the city’s building, on Saturday.

The victim was identified as Max Bloom y Salientes, who lives in the Amorsolo Building, West Tower, Amorsolo Drive, Rockwell Center, Barangay Poblacion, Makati City.

In a report by the Southern Police District (SPD), Calluza Vedal y Sabado, 54, a gardener, discovered the victim’s body at the bottom of the building, around 7:30 am.

Vedal immediately informed the security officer of the building, Federico Marquez, and reported to the authorities.”

Max Bloom was known as “Slider” on twoplustwo forums. He was a very respected member, a number of people knew him well and he had done lot of trades and was a lot into Bitcoins and crypto.

His twitter handle is as follows

He also was the founder of Livecoinwatch and BetterGram, it seems hardly that it was suicide. It seems that he was defenestrated.

The last known halfway crypto business deal was with another crypto businessman going by the name of kingscrownBTC on Twitter.

My personal point of view

Okay guys so this is my personal view on the death of Max Bloom, he was internally known to a lot of 2+2 guys and he was trading with them for a significant amount of money, like exchanging upto 70000 USD in BTC, ETH to local currency and he had no limits. He may have had a lot of crypto as he got into crypto very early. Philippines is a very American friendly country, Americans are treated as rock stars, every native wants to marry American as it could open doors for a green card. Plus he was doing too well, had two startups going good, he was living in a very posh place, now suddenly this guy is found dead seems very implausible to me.

Just look at this reddit post screenshot below

Who are these  people who are making it look like a suicide? Suddenly the poker world came to know about this through twoplustwo account of Douglas Polk going by the name of wcgrider, where he says there are rumours that Max Bloom or Slider on twoplustwo is no more. That they have been frantically trying to reach out to him, and he is presumed dead.

Now a report is fished out of local newspapers of an American male lying at the base of the building dead and is identified as Max Bloom.

Plus there is a reddit post marking it as a suicide by those close to him.

What I perceive from all this is that he probably was murdered and had his crypto stolen by some insiders who were close to him, however all trail is cold, there is no idea which twoplustwo was close to him or visited him.

To get his crypto they had to be there in his apartment, and he might have been kidnapped for some time in his own apartment, forced to shell out his crypto holdings and murdered.

Apart from that there is little to no police investigation and it has been marked as suicide by the local police.



Mike postle has been caught cheating big time.

As I write this investigation is on. However, most of the people have now decided clear case of cheating on the live stream at stones poker room california.

People have been cheated out of nearly half a million dollars.

Mike Postle’s net winnings are said to be over 300,000$ and every single session he has won. Figuring in the rake his opponents have been milked out probably a lot more.

Recently he took down his own linkedin page which had some details regarding his links with a poker company supplying RFID and setup for live poker streaming.

Mike Postle also has been hit with a 10 million dollar lawsuit, apart from that stones poker room manager Justin Kuraitis and Stones Gambling Hall too have been hit each with 10 million dollar lawsuits for defrauding poker players.

25 plaintiffs are mentioned in the suit which is filed in the US eastern district of California. Recognizable plaintiffs are Veronica Brill, the original whistleblower, poker content creators Jeff “Boski” Sluzinski and Jaman Burton. The $10 million is to be “divided pari passu between and amongst the Stones Fraud Victims in proration to the number of minutes they spent playing on the Stones Live Poker broadcast from January 1, 2019 through the present.”

It is alleged in the lawsuit that Postle took hundreds of thousands of dollars from his fellow players using some sort of electronic devices and had one more co-conspirator.

Example of a cheating hand

Here in this hand Postle calls on the flop with Th Jc and his opponent has a set on the flop, upon hitting the best possible hand and top pair, Postle folds on a small bet, it could be possible that Postle is hunting for a straight or a bigger flush.

However even the best players in the world are going to call the bet on the turn when they hit top pair, and the bet being a fraction of the pot.

Like this Postle has been playing for a long time and had been running like god.

Also it is seen that when his mobile was kept on the table then he would lose his super human ability at the poker table and would made some bad plays, however when he had his mobile safely in his crotch area away from the prying eyes of others, he would be playing god like poker, in this picture below we see Postle placing his camera in the crotch region for the first time and it is alleged that after this time he would always keep his mobile in that strange location and win like god.



Michael Borovetz case has been included to show what poker can do to normal intelligent people and the pitfalls of poker as a career option.

Most poker players fall in the line of gambling too and start playing other casino games like Roulette, Blackjack etc.

It is alleged that Borotvetz started playing other casino games and started losing a lot of money.

If you see his track record on TheHendonMob he has a career winnings of more than half a million dollars. His first poker cash happened in 2004 and since then he has been regularly playing and cashing with 74 cashes till date in various poker tournaments.

However he has a history of scamming people on the airports and has more than 13 cases registered at various airports against him.

On August 13, 2019 he got arrested again at Detroit Metropolitan airport. Borovetz was also arrested in April 2018, in New Jersey where he asked a passenger for money stating that his flight had been cancelled and he needed money for a hotel room to cover the night, he got a loan of 200 dollars which he never paid back.

How he scams people is perfectly stated by a user on twoplustwo thread with details as to how he panhandles people for money.



Mehmet Hassan used to play poker in London. His last session of poker was in Palm Beach Casino Club.

He had won 3000 euro, he befriended a lady named Granger in casino and he gave her 1000 dollars to gamble with.

He also invited her to his hotel room.

Now she called her boyfriends as she had a soft corner towards him and she realized Mehmet had a lot of cash in the hotel room.

Granger then went out but let her boyfriends secretly in the room as she left and they had a gun on them, Mehmet was tied and beaten, bloodied and left for dead. His cash had been stolen by them.

However these robbers got arrested by the scotland yard police and they were handed very stiff sentences Granger must serve a minimum of 16 years in prison while her two boyfriends must serve at least 36 years.

Granger did admit that she had planned robbing Hassan but was not involved or had planned Hassan’s murder.

After 24 hours of killing of Mehmet Hassan, Hassan’s daughter had been searching for Hassan as he was not picking up his phone.

This goes on to show the dangers that lay in the poker career and visitation to the casinos.

We have seen the results of losing players as well as the tragedy of this winning player.

Now there is more coming up!



Poker players start playing poker and think that they will improve, learn and become better over time, and will be able to make a lot of money in this game.

However seldom do realize that it could happen that they continuously lose in their poker career and may never be able to claw out of the poker losses.

Most poker players career winnings graph shows as a red line going deep down in their career.

And why is this so? The simple explanation is that their edge is negative, with all the expenses of poker and rake and travelling, hotel costs, and the time lost in which the person could have done something of value, it is found that person has a gross negative edge.

It means that no amount of time or effort invested in this activity is going to ever be profitable.

Most professional stock market investors and traders who have been winning pay a very small percentage in transaction costs and these are well below the 1 percent in some cases like 0.01 percent.

Now with poker rake standing at 5 percent how can anyone ever generate a profit in the long run, with poker players learning by the hour and getting better.

Most edges remain at 1 or 2 percent of good players and they become negative when the effect of rake and other costs come.

This ensures that players lose in the long run.

Now this story is one such player and his name is Chun Lei Zhou.

Now just take a look at his poker graph of one of his account

This account on full tilt going by the name of Samrostan shows 11 million dollar loss.

The losses were initially small and slow but as time progressed his poker graph looks like fallen from a cliff.

Similarly he has suffered loss in other accounts for a total of over 15 million dollars.

Though recently it is said that he had been playing Macau biggest games and was a winning for several million dollars in them.

However, you should remember that online poker brought many rising stars down at one point of time. Mike Matusow himself says that he lost over 15 million dollars at online poker and if online poker was not there, he would have been the best and biggest stakes player and would not have needed poker staking.


Gus Hansen for a long time was the biggest online loser with losses reported to be over 20 million dollars.

As a poker professional and that too at the helm of the poker field, he became overconfident in his abilities.

He kept on losing and his losing streak never stopped.

For a long time in his career he suffered monetary issues, and at one time he took a photo of himself grinding of less than 200 euro buy-in event.

For a poker professional who has won millions and who used to raise several thousand dollars in pre-flop raise in online game, this is very low point in career.

He has not enjoyed stable success in his career, or any stability.

He attributes tilt to be one form of poker evil that he has struggled with throughout his career.

At Bobby’s high stakes poker room he was recently shown to be cashing out a six figure sum and saying that when you buy-in for 5 figures and you cashout for 6 figures you know it is going to be a good summer!

However, we all know how talented Gus Hansen was from the beginning and continuously losing vast sums at online poker where he did not have any edge was a great sin that he committed.

We all can learn to quit the activity in which we are losing at the earliest, or at the first loss and not be entrapped in an activity which is losing, most people start chasing losses and if someone starts chasing in a negative expectation game like Blackjack or Roulette then he can never win, and whatever amount he has will be gone.

When you see his TheHendonMob results the real tragedy appears. His first cash appears in 2002, and every year he cashed in poker tournaments until a stoppage in 2014. In 2013 he is playing a 35 euro tourney and finishing in 2nd. After 2014 there is no cash until July 2019.

For such a great poker player and tournament player who has a big edge over his opponents, to have his bankroll finished in online poker and not be enabled to play any live tournaments is a real tragedy.

Every poker player can learn from his case and stay safe.

Gus Hansen has a wiki page dedicated to himself and if you are interested in learning more about him, I have given a link.

Hansen was voted one of People magazine’s 50 Sexiest Men in 2004.



Dwan won over 300,000 dollars in 2007 and in 2008 he won over 5 million dollars by focusing on heads up cash games and multiplayer cash games.

However the speed with which Tom Dwan earned he donated it back to the poker ecosystem at 10x that speed.

Here is a graph from Full Tilt Poker account, he used to play with the name durrrr

He still shows ahead in profits by a little over 2 million dollars. It is assumed that he cashed out this amount, or used it to play live poker cash games or tournaments or spent it.

In mid 2015, 2016 there were reports that Tom Dwan had gone missing and was not to be found, there were some reports that he could have been kidnapped by the triads a mafia group.

Dwan had travelled to Macau to play in some of the biggest games, what looked like rich Asian businessmen who were bad at poker at much more tricks up their sleeves and before Tom Dwan could know better he had lost it all in Macau.

Tom Dwan was never to be found for a long time until he made an appearance in a video with Paul Phua. Paul Phua is the largest bookmaker in Asia, he is known to be a high ranking member of the Chinese Triads mafia.

A little more about Paul Phua to see how rich and powerful he is, Paul flew to Las Vegas in June 2014 in his privately owned Gulfstream business jet.

He booked three villas at Caesars Palace Hotel

In three villas which all contained the apparatus to monitor, place or receive bets he was apprehended by the much publicized arrest in Las Vegas.

So it is rumored that Tom Dwan was living with Paul Phua for some time and in this period probably Tom Dwan was giving out his strategies to Paul Phua.

It is alleged that Paul Phua then staked him in various poker tournaments so that Tom Dwan could again build his poker bankroll.

Tom Dwan has a wiki page dedicated to him and is included in the links.

Despite these poker stars having won so much money, they have never realized stability in their lives. Also simple and basic financial management is missing from most poker players. With 4 million dollars invested wisely in interest saving accounts Dwan could have netted 10,000 dollars easily each month, plus with 1 million dollars he could have played the cash games or tournaments, and if he had started losing, he would have stopped and still drawn a handsome amount each month to rebuild his bankroll.

It should be noted that Tom Dwan started extremely humble from just an investment of 50 dollars.

It remains to be seen if Tom Dwan can bounce back from the extreme monetary losses that he suffered and regain the crown as a cash game poker specialist.



Not much history is known about this poker player, or where he got his start from. He has only two cashes in TheHendonMob which show to his name that too very early like 2008 and 2009. But what we can decipher is he played a 300 dollars tournament and ended up finishing 2nd in Atlantic City Harrah’s and ended up winning close to 30,000 USD.

This is his first tournament cash showing and what we can deduce is this is how he got his start.

However at the same Harrash’s resort in 2014 he was to be discovered flushing down poker chips in the toilet clogging their lanes.

And what is even more disturbing is that when police went to search his home they would find an even more sinister crime of international DVD bootlegging scam.

When police went to search his residence in relation to the Borgata scam, they were horrified to find over 35,500 pirated DVDs.

  From June 2010, and July 2012 Lusardi received more than 1.3 million dollars in PayPal account and it was determined he was in the business of receiving, manufacturing and selling counterfeit DVDs.

Wannabe poker players are warned that poker has been the game of cheats and wrong members of society since its inception, it has always attracted all types of people and players need to be very cautious as to who they are dealing with.

The greed for money or the want of money drives people to do insane things for which they under rate the punishment they would get. It is imperative for every poker player to understand and put limits and not play the game of poker in a no limit way.

And for all the trouble that Lusardi took to introduce fake chips in the Borgata Winter Open, he netted only 6,500$ and was eliminated early on. Plus the whole tournament itself had to be cancelled and his name in the poker industry would be tarnished forever.



This is the biggest tragedy and the baddest of them all.

Ernie Scherer III would go on to commit the murder of both his parents using a baseball bat so that he could get their money early.

We see that Ernie has over 300,000 dollars in winnings. However he had debts of over 600,000 USD and often would quarrel with his parents to lend him more money.

From 2003 to 2008 Ernest cashed in at least 28 tournaments.

On March 7th 2008 Ernie would club both his parents dead with a baseball bat and slashed them with a sword. When cops started investigating, Ernie showed no pain at all, however other family members acted like they should. The other family members looked devastated, however Ernie had dinner in a very expensive restaurant in the first 24 hours of knowing about his parents murder.

Also he was extremely eager to go in the house and examine the will of his parents. The investigator mentions that probably Ernie went too far in accruing gambling debts and because of which he snapped.

Another fact that linked Ernie to the crime was that everyone else had good alibis, however not Ernie.

Ernie is still lodged in jail for the murder of his parents and would serve the remainder of his life in prison.