Deerfield Beach Poker Pro Carrying Backpack with $100K Almost Robbed Twice in One Day
The hands started going his way this year. In July, Riley entered a $2,300 buy-in no-limit hold'-em tournament at Isle Casino Pompano Park. He finished second, walking away with $95,255. Next was a $5,300 buy-in tournament at the
Seminole Hard Rock. He won $14,544, 109th place out of 2,384 contestants. In October, again at Pompano Park in a $2,300 no-limit contest, he came in fourth with $82,038.
"That showed I could do it on a consistent basis," he explains. "Just to make it to the final table with a lot of good players, that says a lot. But to do it back-to-back says even more." So far, he's racked up $282,203 in winnings. Bluff.com ranks him 538th worldwide.
The wins attracted attention. In every casino, clinging to the fringes of the action, is a shady subset of regulars. Whenever a player cooks up a hot streak, they home in, cheering, fetching drinks, boosting egos. In return, they expect a couple hundred dollars for their own games, PokerNews' Peters explains. "Mostly, they'll ask, 'Oh, hey, you just won $100,000. Can you stake me $1,000 for this game?' "
In Riley's case, he was often flanked by fellow Jamaicans. One in particular, a baby-faced 40-something with a two-inch Mohawk who went by the name "Junior," stuck to his side. Riley would let him hang around and even stake Junior in small poker games.
In November, the poker pro decided to take a road trip, working casinos from Florida up the East Coast to a tournament starting November 24 at Borgata Hotel Casino in Atlantic City. Rather than wire buy-in money ahead of time, which could result in delays, bank fees, and needing to find a bank branch in an unfamiliar city, Riley opted to travel with cash so he'd be flexible to enter any promising tournament he stumbled across. He stuffed a backpack with $70,000.
"Whenever there's a big tournament in town, the cash games get larger," Peters explains. "Big-name pros come into town to play the tournament, bust out, but then play in the cash games."
At the Maryland Live! Casino outside Baltimore, Riley came out $10,000 ahead. In his first week in Atlantic City, he brought his $80,000 up by about $25,000. Junior, who had moved to Brooklyn, arrived to cheer him on. When Riley and other
card players went out to dinner or grabbed drinks on the boardwalk, Junior was there. "He was annoying, bothering me every day while I was there playing," Riley says. "He would not go away."
In the second week, Riley busted out of the tournament. Bummed, he decided to leave. A friend had taken his car to Maryland, so Riley planned to head to JFK and buy a JetBlue ticket at the counter. His phone then buzzed with a call from Junior, who happened to be in Atlantic City. He offered to give Riley a ride to the airport.