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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Pro poker player says he was robbed $8K after leaving the WSOP

Posted at 12:51 PM, Jul 01, 2019

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Professional poker player Joe Salvaggi exclusively told 13 Action News he was robbed at gunpoint outside of the Rio hotel-casino Monday early morning.

Joe says that a man in camouflage shoved a gun in his face and demanded his backpack which Salvaggi says contained his rental's car keys, approximately $8,000 worth of cash and casino chips combined, which he won playing poker in the World Series of Poker.

"I kind of froze for a second and he, again says, give me your bag and I handed it to him," says Salvaggi.

Salvaggi also took to Twitter that he believes that he was targeted and that police have the robbery on surveillance video.

However, it appears they may not be able to track the thief.

"They're saying they can see a shadow of the altercation going down but not enough to get a plate or like an actual image," says Salvaggi.

The reaction on social media has been mixed. Some posters seem to think the poker player should take some responsibility for the crime since he was carrying cash.

In his defense, professional poker players don't always cash out.

"As a cash game grinder as we call in in this industry, we just have to have cash on hand at all times," says Salvaggi.

Others are blaming the Rio hotel-casino and WSOP for not providing enough security in the parking lots.

Other people are sharing similar experiences or expressing sympathy.

Las Vegas police have confirmed that they received a call this morning about a robbery in the hotel-casino's parking lot. Police say that they responded around 5 a.m. and the victim told them that he was approached by a white male adult with a gun. The thief reportedly took 4 items from the victim. Police would not confirm that one of the items was cash. Police say they were told that the thief left in a red car.

Police also would not confirm that their is surveillance video but said that the detective assigned to the case will review all available evidence.

Caesars Entertainment also sent the following statement:

“Caesars is working with Metro to investigate the theft claim this morning related to the WSOP tournament. Caesars does have extra security patrolling the parking garages during the tournament, and the following are additional steps many WSOP participants take to protect their money:

Ask for security escorts to parked car which will be provided without question;
Utilize safe deposit boxes provided upon request to all participants;
Utilize wire transfer and check options for payment;
Choose tournament buy in accounts, where funds can be left for summer.”

WSOP, which attracts thousands of professional and amateur poker players every year, ends on July 16.

Security experts told 13 Action News they encourage people to to take a friend when they gamble, to be cautious of overly friendly people, and be aware of surroundings.

"As poker players we don't always cash out," says Salvaggi.

If poker players insist walking out with cash, security experts also encourage players to be on the lookout for people who might be following you, before leaving the casino have car keys ready to go, and lock the vehicle door's immediately.