"Whenever there's a big tournament in town, the cash games get larger," Peters explains. "Big-name pros come into town to play the tournament, bust out, but then play in the cash games."

At the Maryland Live! Casino outside Baltimore, Riley came out $10,000 ahead. In his first week in Atlantic City, he brought his $80,000 up by about $25,000. Junior, who had moved to Brooklyn, arrived to cheer him on. When Riley and other card players went out to dinner or grabbed drinks on the boardwalk, Junior was there. "He was annoying, bothering me every day while I was there playing," Riley says. "He would not go away."

In the second week, Riley busted out of the tournament. Bummed, he decided to leave. A friend had taken his car to Maryland, so Riley planned to head to JFK and buy a JetBlue ticket at the counter. His phone then buzzed with a call from Junior, who happened to be in Atlantic City. He offered to give Riley a ride to the airport.

Instead of heading straight for JFK in Queens, the men, along with Junior's girlfriend, went to Brooklyn for the day, running errands, Riley says. He remembers Junior spotting a Lexus GS in traffic. "That's a nice car," Junior told his girl. "One day I'm going to buy you one of those."

That afternoon, Junior and Riley headed for JFK. At the airport, Riley pointed out open parking spaces near the beginning of the terminal. Instead, Junior parked the car at the very end of the departure area. Riley told Junior to open the trunk and then got out to fetch his bag. That's when Junior sped off and Riley jumped into the cab in pursuit.

The chase didn't go far. Ahead, Riley saw the Camry sandwiched in by rows of cars snagged at a red light. The trunk was still open. He jumped out of the cab, sprinted to the Camry, and grabbed his black nylon backpack. The light changed and the traffic lurched. Riley ducked to his left and landed on the concrete shoulder.

Then things got weird. Another Camry, this one piloted by two guys in dark jackets with fur-lined hoodies, arrived. "We're undercover cops," the driver told Riley. "What happened?"

"I can't believe this fucking asshole," Riley said. "He's a friend of mine, but he took my fucking shit."

"Get in the car," the driver said. "We've got to get him."

Riley climbed into the back seat. The black Camry plowed into traffic. "Dispatch, shut down the airport," one of the guys seemed to say into a cell phone. Riley leaned forward as the car picked up speed to about 40 mph. Then the guy in the passenger seat slid the hoodie of his jacket over his head. Metal clanked. Riley felt his brown Polo sweater bunch up in a fist and a hard edge press into his chest. "Don't move."

Riley regularly watches AMC's The First 48, a reality cop drama that gives the play-by-play of homicide investigations. "I know by watching that show that there's nothing good that comes from leaving with a guy with a gun," he explains.

He opened the door. The gunman held onto his shirt. The sweater and jacket lifted up and off Riley as he scooted backward out of the car. He somehow tumbled out with the backpack.

Wearing only a T-shirt and paranoid the second car might return, Riley frantically tried to flag down help. After about ten minutes, a cab slowed and took Riley to police. He didn't have his ID, credit cards, or phone — just his improbable story and $100,000.

The Port Authority Police Department is investigating the attempted robbery and declined to comment.

On poker message boards, Riley has been blasted for being naive. "It was more of a story that should remind players that they don't need to be carrying this kind of money around in public," PokerNews' Peters says. "It seems like Eric just didn't take the necessary precautions."

Riley says he'll never again travel with that amount of cash. He's not sure whether Junior and the men in the second car were working together, but he thinks back to the day in Brooklyn when Junior boasted to his girlfriend about buying her a car.

"All along, this guy is planning to rob me and buy his girl a Lexus."

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1 comments
tonybigcharles
tonybigcharles

im sure this will happen to me as soon as i ever hit it big, all my blog readers know how terrible i am in good judgement. or some woman and her black pimp will set me up

 
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