In the 1998 World Series of Poker, I had just been knocked out of the PLO tournament. I had made a bad play and was fuming about it as I sat down in a cash game to cool off. Despite the fact I had won my eighth bracelet in the Razz tournament the night before, I was so upset I was playing bad in the cash game. I lost a couple of pots and picked up a stack of 500 chips and some cash and put it in my pocket. I started for my home on the Las Vegas Country Club not realizing what was in store for me that night.
As I parked my car in the driveway and walked up to my front door, I heard a noise behind me. I turned with my house keys in my hand and saw two men dressed in black and wearing ski masks pointing pistols at me. I instantly realized they were there to enter my house and rob me and possibly do harm to me and my wife. I remember saying “oh shit” and throwing my keys as far as I could. One of the men put a gun to my head telling me if I moved he would kill me, while his partner retrieved the keys from the street where I had thrown them.
One of the robbers was tall, the other one short. The tall one held the gun to my head and said we were going inside. I knew these guys were expecting to get a lot of money from my house because they had several bags with them. I knew there was only a couple of hundred dollars in the house so I told them we were not going inside. The tall guy put the gun back to my head and said then you will die right here. I didn’t know what to so, I was so worried about my wife Louise but didn’t want to get shot resisting. I had just read Ty Thompson’s book The Unsinkable Titanic, the life story of the famous gambler Titanic Thompson. Ty had killed five men trying to rob him by faking a heart attack and coming out with a pistol he carried in a shoulder holster.
I didn’t have a gun but I grabbed my chest and gasped “I’m having a heart attack, get the paramedics.” It flustered the robbers but they opened the door which triggered the alarm on the house. They dragged me inside and started screaming at me to give them the code to turn the alarm off. I knew I had to get help because if they has time they would probably inflict bodily harm on me and Louise. So I kept giving them the wrong numbers until the alarm finally went off. The tall guy started hitting me with his pistol breaking me glasses and cutting my face all over. My wife had been in bed upstairs and came down the steps and was forced into turning the alarm off.
I was still lying on the floor with blood all over me and moaning about my “heart attack.” I must have been an awful sight and Louise was trying to come over to me but the tall guy wouldn’t let her. The phone was ringing and everybody knew it was the alarm company calling. The short guy put his gun up to my head telling me if I moved he would kill be (BTW I was getting tired of that). The other guy put his gun on Louise and told her the same thing would happen to her if she didn’t tell the alarm company everything was ok. Louise answered and told the lady operator everything was ok and gave her a false number for our code. This was supposed to alert the operator something was wrong. When the operator told Louise that was an incorrect code, Louise answered, “yes I know.” Then she repeated the wrong code and hung up. I couldn’t believe she could remember a five digit wrong code number under such stress.
In 15-20 seconds our phone rang again. I later heard a tape of the conversation. The robber answered and the operator was screaming, “that wasn’t the right code.” The robber tried to sound like Louise and kept saying everything was ok. Finally the operator realized something was wrong so she hung up and called the police. The tall guy realized they were on to them and came running back where I was, cocking his pistol and said in a trembling voice “I’m gonna kill you for what you have done to us tonight.” Like a heroine in an adventure film, Louise jumped in front of him saying “Kill me, don’t kill him, kill me.” Everyone, including me was stunned by what she did and then the tall robber threw her to the floor beside me.
I was talking to the guys telling them that the cops were on the way and they had better get going. I told them if they wanted money I had eight or nine thousand in my pocket. He reached in my pocket and pulled out a small roll of bills, probably 3-4 thousand dollars and a handful of $500chips. He threw the chips on the floor saying “you call that money?” He reached in my other pocket taking more bills and a pouch that had $90,000 in $5000 chips. It was money I had received the night before from winning the Razz tourney. I had completely forgotten about them. I had meant to put them in my safety deposit box at the Horseshoe but had neglected doing it.
The robber put everything in a bag then hit me again wanting to know where the safe was. I told him I didn’t have a safe and had never had a safe. I told them there was no money in the house and reminded them the police were on the way.
He took out three sets of handcuffs, put them tightly on me and Louise, linking us together. He opened the door to leave and I said to him. “Buddy, leave my billfold. There is no money in it and if you try to use the credit cards, you’ll get caught.” I’ll never forget how he paused, straddled the door between his legs and stared down at me for 30 seconds or so. He then threw my billfold over his shoulder and left. I believe he had some kind of sick sexual experience as he had the door between his legs.
As we lay on the floor unable to get up after they left, Louise who still thought I was badly hurt said, “Did you ever think after 35 years we would wind up like this?” I started laughing and assured her I was ok and had faked the heart attack. She asked me what was the flashing light in my pocket and I told her it was my cell phone. We could barely move but managed to get the phone out and called my neighbor who rushed right over. Then the police arrived and took the handcuffs off. The police tried to make me go to the emergency room but I said “No, I’m not going.” It looked like I was badly hurt but I had taken lots of worse hits in sports and fights. So it was over and I was thankful Louise and me were OK.
The next day I went to the alarm company and talked to the head supervisor. The lady was very apologetic about what happened, acknowledging the fact that the operator had made a bad mistake calling back about the wrong security code. She was in tears and told is that she had personally trained the operator. I told her I understood about people making mistakes and if the would give me the $100,000 the robbers took I would forget it. She said she couldn’t do that so I told her we would sue the company. We did file a suit and made a settlement for $340,000. We would have gotten much more if we had gone to court but I didn’t want to put Louise through a long trail reliving the robbery. She had never experienced anything like that and she was having anxiety attacks. That was my fifth time looking down a gun barrel so I wasn’t affected much. But it was time to put the robbery behind us.
Another amazing thing about this robbery was the fact that my two dogs Casper (the toy poodle) and Cutie (Bichon) stayed upstairs through the entire ordeal. Casper is very territorial and anything of anybody that enters what he considers his domain. He was 4 years old at the time of our home invasion and had never, not one time, failed to greet me when I came in the front door. Why he didn’t come down during the robbery will never be clear. Was it divine intervention? Or was it an instinctive sense of something being wrong? I’m sure if he had charged the robbers something bad would have happened because I would never allowed him to be mistreated. Anyway, when the police got there he ran down the stairs and bit a cop.
Casper is now 16 years old and his running mate Cutie is 15. Both are in good health and are the best dogs you could possibly have. Casper has bitten 47 (brought blood) people that have come into our back yard and house. We finally learned to lock him up in the bedroom when expecting visitors
May the flop be with you!