The British Columbia Poker Championship tournament series has been gaining popularity over the last few years, especially with the 2008 Main Event victory by Daniel Negreanu and praises for its tournament structure and good times by such pros as Liz Lieu and Lacey Jones. But the outcome of the 2009 Main Event was bittersweet for all, as champion Sophon Sek was arrested soon after his win on manslaughter charges.
Held at the River Rock Casino Resort, the BCPC attracts poker players from all over America and Canada for its reasonably priced series of tournaments, especially its $2,700 buy-in Main Event. This year, the four-day tournament boasted of a $1,875,000 prize pool and started on November 19, 2009. And the 2009 event garnered a field of 679 players, and Sophon Sek beat them all and won the $364,364 CDN first place prize, beating well-known players such as Scott Clements who finished in seventh place.
But Sek was arrested the following day, on November 23, less than 24 hours after his victory. The police force in British Columbia sought Sek as an alleged gangster with the Red Scorpions, who was part of the Surrey Six slayings, and upon his arrest, he was charged with manslaughter and break and enter, though the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, according to the Vancouver Sun, is looking into additional charges that could be filed.
The Surrey Six murders involved six people in Surrey, British Columbia, who were slain in a high-rise apartment building in what police say was a planned execution of one man - Corey Lal - and the others who were simply caught in the crossfire. Sek was the sixth person arrested in the case, as he is suspected of giving the alleged murderers access to the Balmoral Tower building where the murders took place. Other members of the Red Scorpions are facing first-degree murder charges.
Sek has had previous run-ins with law enforcement. In 2008, he was charged with the possession of an unlicensed firearm.
River Rock Casino did not pay Sek for winning the tournament, as he was scheduled to return the next day to claim his funds but was arrested instead. Howard Blank of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation noted, “The RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] has informed us it is the same person who won our tournament and the RCMP has requested that the funds be held for his winnings. So the funds have not been issued to the winner.”