High-stakes home game players and known poker players are being warned that impromptu live games may be traps set by professional con artists who are on a roll across the continent of North America.
A scam that is said to have been around since 2003 is picking up wealthy businessmen as targets in Canada and the United States. Police forces have issued an official warning after a Vancouver media magnate was targeted late last week.
Alex Tkach, the magnate in question, was invited to a “business meeting” at a location which happened to be hosting an informal game of 7 card stud. Upon his arrival, one of the men present left suddenly to take an urgent business call and asked Tkach to play his hand, with the whole scam set up as if this were the last hand of a post-party game that had spontaneously happened. Tkach won $2,000 on this hand and the original player gave half to Tkach as a commission for “winning him all that money.” Then the con artists offered to play one more hand with Tkack now hooked and the man to beat. Tkach was dealt a full house and was sucked in to playing for the $9,000 pot which he duly, and narrowly, lost to a Jack- high full house
An acquaintance of Tkach’s saw a press release put out by Hamilton police that made Tkach realize he’d been scammed. The policeman on the case has estimated that the gang pulls off the same stunt three to four times a day. The marks are generally always the same: business owners with deep pockets.
“Everybody at the table has a role. Everyone has a script. Everything happens for a reason,” said Tkach to local media sources. “It was so well played, I wish I could have recorded it.”