BY TOM SOMACH
According to media reports, three masked gun-toting bandits broke into a building at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 28th St. in Manhattan at about 11:15 p.m. Friday and went to the seventh floor, where the illegal poker club, called Straddles, is located.
About 100 people playing poker inside the club were told by the robbers to hand over their money, as was the club’s cashier, the reports said.
During the robbery, one of the poker players, Frank Desena, 55, a math teacher from Wayne, New Jersey, was shot by one of the bandits, and died 40 minutes later at a nearby hospital, the reports said.
Desena once played in the World Series of Poker, the reports said.
The bandits got away with about $100,000 in cash, the reports said.
Police in New York City have been cracking down lately on underground poker dens, of which there are estimated to be dozens, perhaps hundreds, in America’s largest city.
In addition to being illegal, the clubs, because of the large amounts of cash on hand, are frequent targets of violence, police say.
The clubs are also often hotbeds of illegal drug use and other unlawful activity, police say.
Nevertheless, many celebrities, including baseball player Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez and pro poker player Phil “Poker Brat” Hellmuth Jr., have been known to frequent such New York poker dens.
(E-mail Tom Somach at [email protected])