An alarming trend is spreading through the poker community at a rapid fire pace. The latest senseless act of violence ending in death took place at an underground and illicit poker club in Manhattan this past weekend on Friday night.
Four masked robbers burst in on the poker game located on the seventh floor of a Fifth Avenue building, a few blocks from the Empire State Building, sometime after 11 p.m. Unfortunately, this confrontation was very violent, Frank Desena, 55 of Wayne, N.J. was shot in the torso and died at a local hospital 40 minutes later.
Mr. Desena, a mathematician and former professor, was described by others as "the guy next door", and leaves behind a wife and a teenage son.
As police investigated the crime scene, a variety of people showed up for the "freeroll tournament" being advertised through word of mouth and e-mail. Most of the players arriving were middle class, bankers, lawyers, doctors, and financiers. In shock, players were led away from the scene and questioned one by one. It is not clear who is in charge of the game at this time. Building superintendent, Pisha Mithab explained that four or five people work up there and he doesn't know which one is in charge. They hired their own security guard to work when the building's regular man left at 6 p.m. According to Mr. Mithab, the tenant said, "We need someone to check who is going in and out."
So, my question is this, Where was this "security guard" Friday night when the four masked men arrived to rob the poker players? Obviously this is an inside job from someone with knowledge of the underground club because it is a brand new club, very hard to get into and only a select few are granted entry. It's a very tight knit community.
In New York it is not illegal to play poker, but it is against the law for the organizers of the game to make a profit. Players said that the people running this particular game made players cough up $5 every half hour to play.
When asked about the stakes, players mentioned that they weren't very high ranging from hundred dollar pots to several thousand dollar pots. One woman compared the poker games to a book club, "It was friendly, and everyone knows each other". She also mentioned the game was a 24 hour operation on the weekends with as many as 60 players in the room at one time. The room was described as very large, housing about 12 poker tables, plasma TV's, and alcohol was forbidden.
Police are investigating a variety of leads and they are watching surveillance video as well. Hopefully we'll see an arrest come from this.