Five stories about poker players who got behind the bars


Poker players are ordinary people. They also make mistakes at the poker tables and in their everyday life. There are more of those who are trying to get financial success, and sometimes they try to get it using the means that are not lawful. Tens of these cases got poker players to the court. We will tell you about five players who got in jail during recent years.

(Mike Matusow)
American professional players Mike Matusow has a very naughty bio. Six times on course of his career, he lost all his money. He has won four WSOP bracelets, got to Main Event final tables three times. He likes to chat while playing, so he got his nickname "The Mouth". He got back to poker after a tough condition and a surgery.
His obsession with the game and psychological problems got him in a lot of trouble back in his childhood. He was caught stealing money from his parents to play slots, so he got to gambling addiction program.
In 2000, Matusow followed the advice of his girlfriend, who was a stripper from Puerto Rico and started to use LSD to relax. Then he go to cocaine and amphetamine. In 2002, at a private party where everyone got doped, he met a guy names Mike Fento. Fento told him that he is in the money laundering business. He became Matusow’s best friend and once asked him for drugs for the friends. Later turned out, Fento was a police officer.
On September, 25 2003 Matusow was arrested and accused of possession and selling narcotic substances. Police were trying to convince him to get them evidence against other player involved in drug trafficking. Matusow refused this cooperation.
Thanks to the lawyer David Cheznov, who called his client a “naive kind-hearted person who always gets in trouble”, Mike only got six months in prison. He served his sentence from Spetember 2004 to April 2005 in Clark County Jail, Las Vegas.
Dragan Kostic
Dragan Kostic is equally famous with Matusow, and he also got behind the bars after committing a mistake. Dragan was born in Macedonia but in 1992 moved to Spain. In the end of 2000s he played in European poker series. In August 2011, he got his breakthrough in EPT Barcelona Main Event. He finished second and received €532,000 in winnings. According to Spanish tax laws; he had to play 228 thousand euros in taxes after winning this amount.
However, he never paid it. Spanish tax workers were in altercations with Dargan for a long time, and filed a lawsuit against him for not paying taxes. At first Kostic was claiming he didn’t know about the taxes from poker winnings. Later according to his words, he expected the taxes to be covered by other payments he made in Spain. He blamed his financial consultant who filed a tax declaration for him.
All these statements weren’t good enough for the count so he got obliged to pay additional 400 thousand euro fine and serve 18 months in jail. Appeal court left it all without any changes and in the end of 2017 Dragan Kostic started his sentence.
Travell Thomas
American Travell Thomas com combined a poker career with the work in Four Star Resolution company. Playing from 2006 in small tournaments on the territory of the USA, he won more that half million dollars (the biggest win $30,445). He used to be a head of collectors agency since 2010 and collected tens of millions dollars in debt.
Turned out, these “efforts” of Travell on collecting debt weren’t legal. In 2015, he and 14 other people were convicted of frauds. The collectors frightened the clients and increased the size of their debt. As prosecutors claimed, Thomas made the calls to agency workers.
In the beginning of the process, Travell denied all accusations and tried to file a claim in response against the prosecutor Prit Bharar saying that he is racist. It took  year for Travell to agree with court requirements. He was on the edge of getting 40 years. In result of the deal the lawyers managed to cut the term down to 8 years and Thomas had to pay 31 million dollars in damages to those who suffered from his actions.
Christian Lusardi
Christian Lusardi can’t be called a successful player. For more than six years in different tournaments in the USA he got IRM in 2008 and 2009 and won merely $30,745.
Perhaps, this is why he decided to cheat in the opening tournament Borgata Winter Poker Open with two million dollars guaranteed back in January 2014. When the event got to last 27 people, it was stopped by the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) of New Jersey and casino management. The management claimed, some fraudulent chips were found.
The criminal was identified with the help of hotel canalization systems, were fake chips were found. The criminal tried to get rid of them after the tournament was stopped. The restroom were the chips got transferred was in Christian’s room.
While being under the investigation, to avoid bigger conviction terms, Lusardi admitted his guilt and agreed for cooperation. Lusardi paid $463,540 to the organizers of the tournament and $9,455 to the casino for spoiling canalization system. Thanks to that, 15 years were cut to 5.
Later we found out that after seven and half month’s imprisonment, he was released, and that caused negative reaction of the players.
Darren Woods
The world got acquainted with Darren Woods  back in 2011 after the latter won Event#9 at World Series and received $213,431. He played online since 2007. Online poker was one of the reasons Woods got into jail.
In 2011, poker forums 2+2 got filled with messages that Darren plays at high stakes with the team. Poker rooms weren’t doing anything about it, so in 2014 Woods got himself a lawsuit filed with other players in Sheffield.
Turned out, he and his dad, Iranian businessman Morteza Gharoun created a network of accounts using fake names. They played together at the expensive tables.
Court obliged the player to pay out more than a million pounds to those who suffered from these schemes as it improved 13 point of the accusations. In addition to that, Woods got 15 months imprisonment. After getting out of the jail, Woods never got back to poker.
Summing it up
Fools learn from their mistakes while wise people learn from the mistakes of other people. Let’s hope this article will save you from not the wisest doings a the poker table an outside of it. Live and play honestly, bring some use to the people around you. That way you will know about the prison only with the help of the info you got from movies like “Shawshank Redemption”.


Hai ottenuto %count% punti
Hai trovato un bug?