In a crazy story out of the Czech Republic, as reported by PokerArena.cz, it seems as if mild mannered Martin Staszko, the runner-up to the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event, was targeted by a group of deadly kidnappers, after his massive Main Event payday.
The story goes a little something like this: A group of men, allegedly led by one Michael Šváb, would lure rich businessmen abroad in an effort to get them to meet in person, where they would promptly kidnap and extort, through various means, mass amounts of money for the victim. While some of the victims were eventually released, two ended up dead.
In 2011, only 13 days after Marin became big news for his runner-up finish, Šváb allegedly contacted the chairman of the now defunct Czech Poker Association to arrange for a fake private home game with Staszko.
Mr. Šváb, once again under the pseudonym of Robert Kelner, wanted to treat his father an unusual Christmas gift – a private poker game in Cannes featuring the newborn superstar.
The promise of a private jet and huge appearance fee were offered but rather than adding to the allure, this actually sounded alarm bells for the chairman who then thought that the game was a setup, not for a kidnapping, but for a possible fixed game where Martin would be colluded against. With that a possibility the chairman politely declined on Staszko’s behalf.
Staszko had no idea how close it came until the men were caught last April. Seven men face charges at the City Court of Prague and face life in prison.