Player Reactions to EPT Berlin Robbery
Last weekend, a robbery took place at the site of the EPT Berlin event. Some of the chaos that ensued during the robbery was taught on tape and can be seen in this YouTube video. This week, we caught up with three people who were in the room for the incident to ask them a few questions about their perspective on the heist.
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Paul Thomas Otto, who participates on our poker forums as 'BubbleBoy', and eventually finished 12th in this tournament for €40,000, had this to say:
PokerTips.org: Where were you when the robbery took place and what went through your mind when you realized what was happening?
Otto: We were seated on 3 tables around the final table, the other 50 or so tables were filled with players from the €2k side event and the €1k euro that had just started.
I was one of the 20 players left in the Main Event, 12 more to go for the day. I had just folded Four-Three of spades in the SB to a raise from an aggressive Scandinavian. That's when I saw a like a wave of people approaching from the entrance area of the poker floor. It took about two seconds for everyone to realize that people were running for their lives.
I was thinking someone must be running amok and got up eying for cover...
PokerTips.org: When you fled your table where did you go? How far away did you run and how long did it take before everyone calmed down again?
Otto: You can see me in that famous live video stream. I went behind the final table and by the TV set. There were two back exits behind the bar to the hotel staff's rooms. Getting sort of in line with everyone else I peeked back at the tournament area. There were some people running over the tables, others were lying underneath them. It was quite the scene. Once I passed the door it was a quick walk to get outside the hotel. We gathered outdoors behind the hotel and quickly started talking about what just happened.
Mike McDonald, who won this event two years ago and finished 5th last year, was playing in the €10,000 High-Roller event when the robbers entered the room.
PokerTips.org: When the assailants entered the building, where were you and how long did it take you to realize what was going on amidst the commotion?
McDonald: I was in the poker room playing the high-roller event kind of in the center of the room. Our table realized pretty early on that something was going on and we were some of the first people to leave the room. It wasn't until hours later that I knew exactly was going on (ie. that they didn't actually have machine guns and grenades, that there weren't actually shots fired, etc). So I guess I knew something was happening that wasn't good but during the panic I was pretty uncertain what the exact details were.
PokerTips.org: Was there a sense of mass panic? Were any announcements made by any tournament or casino staff or was it a free for all?
McDonald: There was mass panic, as you can see in the videos people were going absolutely nuts. There were no announcements and it was pretty unclear how significant/insignificant the situation was to all parties involved.
PokerTips.org: When play finally resumed, did you find it tough to concentrate on the poker?
McDonald: I was kind of coming down from the adrenaline but my heart was still going faster than usual. It was kind of a weird combination that when combined with not that much sleep made me pretty drowsy at the tables. I went into the day feeling really focused and after that just felt kind of average. Play was stopped for like 2.5 hours.
Hans Joachim Hein, who posts as HhCMotU on our poker forums, was also in the room.
PokerTips.org: Where were you and what were you doing when the robbers entered the building?
Hein: I was in the back of the room playing in the €1k side event.
PokerTips.org: From your position, did you feel a sense of danger or an urge to run or were you far enough away that fleeing didn't seem necessary?
Hein: I felt real danger, because nobody really knew what happened. Some people thought it was a massacre or maybe a hostage situation. I didn't see anything, just noise and people running in the back of the room and hiding under the tables. After that we ran outside through a kitchen. While we were outside still nobody knew what was going on. So we fled because of the mass panic, not because we knew what was going on.
PokerTips.org: How long did it take before the situation was calm and under control?
Hein: I think it took maybe like 2-5 minutes to get everyone outside. Then Police arrived, and after 10 to 15 minutes the first people started going back inside. The initial fear most that people had was gone after about 10 minutes. I'm not completely sure on these numbers, they're just estimations.
PokerTips.org: Do you think the incident will deter anyone from playing live tournaments in the future?
Hein: I talked to a couple people about this, and we were really unsure. I don't think it will have that much of an effect, because nobody got hurt and so most people got over it pretty quickly. I don't know how it effects bad, recreational players though who come to a live tournament and just play for fun. But I'd say most of the professionals or people making money will get over this incident quickly.