FBI Investigating Michigan Poker Champ’s Claim That He Was Kidnapped

Written By Dan Holmes on January 2, 2024 - Last Updated on January 3, 2024
Man with hands zip-tied behind his back and playing cards sticking up from his back pocket. A Michigan poker champ says he was abducted and extorted for his gambling winnings. The FBI is investigating.

A Michigan poker champion who claimed to have been kidnapped for a month is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

George Janssen of Bad Axe, MI, is a four-time World Series of Poker Circuit ring winner, and former winner of the WSOP Michigan.

In mid-December, he appeared on the side of a road in Huron County with his hands bound. He claimed to have been held captive for more than a month.

Janssen said he was kidnapped and held for more than four weeks in the Toledo, OH area by unknown assailants. On Dec. 16, he was found with his hands in zip ties and with bruises on his face. He was treated for his injuries and is now the subject of the investigation by federal authorities.

Janssen may have been targeted for his poker winnings

Janssen may have been abducted and held by people seeking to seize some of his winnings from both casino and Michigan online poker.

According to a family member quoted by ABC12 News in Flint, Janssen won $200,000 in the last year playing poker.

According to WSOP winnings tables, Janssen won $82,823 in September at the Mid-Stakes Poker Tout Venetian $1,600 Main Event, and nearly $80,000 in October at the Mid-States Poker Tour Ohio Poker State Championship.

9-1-1 call details beginnings of ‘suspicious situation’

In an audio recording of the 911 call when Janssen was found, the dispatcher says, “There is a suspicious situation going on.”

At 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 16, Janssen was on Thomas Road in Meade Township when he waved at a passing automobile and secured a ride.

“Guy’s hands were zip-tied, says he was held captive for a month,” the dispatcher says in the recording.

According to ABC12, Janssen was reported missing on Nov. 13 by a family member.

Kelly Hanson, the Huron County Sheriff, told ABC12 News that Janssen claims he was driven from the location north back to Michigan on Dec. 16.

“From what we gathered, he was being brought up here to recover some money that was hidden to give to these two assailants,” said Hanson.

At this time, there’s no reason to not believe Mr. Janssen. But, the remarkable nature of the alleged abduction and extortion has led to an investigation by the FBI.

According to several news reports, Janssen apparently has told people that he’s been the target of extortion schemes for years. The extortion began when he started enjoying success in online and casino poker tournaments.

“We can’t substantiate whether it did happen or it didn’t happen,” said Sheriff Hanson. “But there are a lot of things that need to be looked into.”

Photo by PlayMichigan
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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is a Michigan resident who writes about sports betting, sports media, casino and sports betting legislative matters. He's the author of three books, and previously reported for Major League Baseball, as well as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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