March 07, 2010

Armed Robbers Snatch More Than $136,000 at Berlin Poker Tourney

Four men armed with handguns and a machete stole more than 100,000 euros ($136,000) at a poker tournament at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Berlin, police said.

The disguised men stormed the hotel yesterday just after 2 p.m. local time while the competition was underway and forced employees to hand over prize money, Berlin-based police spokesman Guido Busch said by phone. A security guard was slightly wounded but managed to force one of the robbers to drop a bag with a “large share” of the booty, he said. Seven people suffered light injuries as players and spectators panicked and tried to flee the hotel.

“When I entered, I saw a number of security people struggling with three masked men,” said Olaf Wagner, a photographer for Germany’s Bild newspaper, who witnessed the robbery. “One guy stood in the corner stuffing 500 euro notes into his backpack, while a second man pinned down a security man with his machete.”

“An armed robbery in broad daylight in the heart of Berlin, at Germany’s biggest poker tournament,” Wagner said. “I just couldn’t believe my eyes.”

The prize for winning the tournament is 1 million euros, according to the Web site of European Poker Tour, the event’s organizer. German police, who are interviewing witnesses and evaluating security-video tapes, have yet to make any arrests.

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