Sunday, March 7, 2010

Berlin Poker Heist

I heard about this on AOL.

Wow!

These guys have balls of steel.

Thanks,

Preston


Berlin Poker Heist

(Mar. 7) -- A group of robbers wielding machetes and handguns stormed a Berlin poker tournament Saturday -- escaping with as much as $1.1 million in a stunt that was captured by German television cameras.

In what looks like a scene out of an action movie, four robbers in disguise burst into the poker competition at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, sending panicked players, hotel employees and spectators scrambling for the exits as security guards attempted to tackle the thieves.

The initial moments of the heist were captured on live television, with poker players seen fleeing their tables mid-competition, but coverage soon cut away.

"An armed robbery in broad daylight in the heart of Berlin, at Germany's biggest poker tournament," Olaf Wagner, a witness and photographer for Germany's Bild newspaper, marveled to BusinessWeek. "I just couldn't believe my eyes."

"One guy stood in the corner stuffing 500 euro notes into his backpack, while a second man pinned down a security man with his machete," Wagner added.

Berlin police said seven people were injured and a security guard was slightly wounded when the robbers barreled into the hotel just after 2 p.m. local time Saturday, demanding employees of the poker competition turn over the one-million euro jackpot ($1.36 million.)

A police spokesman said it was unclear how much loot the group escaped with, but the BBC reported the sum could be as much as $1.1 million.

According to published reports, a security guard managed to force one of the robbers to drop a bag containing some of the prize money, but police would not say how much the bag contained.

The robbers escaped unscathed, at least temporarily, as no arrests have been made. Police said they are interviewing witnesses and reviewing surveillance tape.

Despite the scare, the poker playing continued, according to the competition Web site.

"Nobody was seriously injured and the Main Event, High Roller tournament and Ladies Event all managed to resume within a few hours," it said.
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New York Times--". . . a cartographer of autodegradation . . . Like Dostoyevsky, Allen colorfully evokes the gambling milieu — the chained (mis)fortunes of the players, their vanities and grotesqueries, their quasi-philosophical ruminations on chance. Like Burroughs, he is a dispassionate chronicler of the addict’s daily ritual, neither glorifying nor vilifying the matter at hand."

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LEXIS-NEXIS--"By day, P drives a school bus in Miami. But his vocation? He's a gambler who craves every opportunity to steal a few hours to play the numbers, the lottery, at the Indian casinos. Allen has a narrative voice as compelling as feeding the slots is to P." Betsy Willeford is a Miami-based freelance book reviewer. November 4, 2007

Publisher’s Weekly--"Allen’s dark and insightful novel depicts narrator P’s sobering descent into his gambling addiction . . . The well-written novel takes the reader on a chaotic ride as P chases, finds and loses fast, easy money. Allen (Churchboys and Other Sinners) reveals how addiction annihilates its victims and shows that winning isn’t always so different from losing."

Kirkus Review--"We gamble to gamble. We play to play. We don't play to win." Right there, P, desperado narrator of this crash-'n'-burn novella, sums up the madness. A black man in Miami, P has graduated from youthful nonchalance (a '79 Buick Electra 225) to married-with-a-kid pseudo-stability, driving a school bus in the shadow of the Biltmore. He lives large enough to afford two wide-screen TVs, but the wife wants more. Or so he rationalizes, as he hits the open-all-night Indian casinos, "controlling" his jones with a daily ATM maximum of $1,000. Low enough to rob the family piggy bank for slot-machine fodder, he sinks yet further, praying that his allergic 11-year-old eat forbidden strawberries—which will send him into a coma, from which he'll emerge with the winning formula for Cash 3 (the kid's supposedly psychic when he's sick). All street smarts and inside skinny, the book gives readers a contact high that zooms to full rush when P scores $160,000 on one lucky machine ("God is the God of Ping-ping," he exults, as the coins flood out). The loot's enough to make the small-timer turn pro, as he heads, flush, to Vegas to cash in. But in Sin City, karmic payback awaits. Swanky hookers, underworld "professors" deeply schooled in sure-fire systems to beat the house, manic trips to the CashMyCheck store for funds to fuel the ferocious need—Allen's brilliant at conveying the hothouse atmosphere of hell-bent gaming. Fun time in the Inferno.

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Bio


Preston L. Allen is the recipient of a State of Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in Literature and the Sonja H. Stone Prize in Fiction for his short story collection Churchboys and Other Sinners (Carolina Wren Press 2003). His works have appeared in numerous publications including The Seattle Review, The Crab Orchard Review, Asili, Drum Voices, and Gulfstream Magazine; and he has been anthologized in Here We Are: An Anthology of South Florida Writers, Brown Sugar: A Collection of Erotic Black Fiction, Miami Noir, and the forthcoming Las Vegas Noir. His fourth novel, All Or Nothing, chronicles the life of a small-time gambler who finally hits it big. Preston Allen teaches English and Creative Writing in Miami, Florida.