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Last month, the poker community received the shocking news of the gruesome murder of professional poker player Susie Zhao. The victim, known as Susie Q in the poker circuit, was a well-known high-stakes player in the Los Angeles poker circuit. She was found dead in a parking lot at White Lake Township, on the outskirts of Detroit in Michigan on July 13.
The police seemed to have made a breakthrough in the case with the arrest of a 60-year-old man from Pontiac in Michigan. While no charges have been made against the unnamed suspect yet, police are questioning him, and are reportedly looking into Zhou’s profession being the possible motive for murder.
Poker Community Reacts to Zhao’s Murder
A graduate from Northwestern University, 33-year-old Zhao had $222,671 in recorded live tournament winnings. In the 2012 WSOP Main Event, Zhao had finished 90th out of 6,598 entries to pocket $73,805. While that was Zhou’s career-best score, she was well-known in the high stakes poker circuit of Los Angeles, and was widely considered a “natural talent.”
Zhou’s murder sent shockwaves through the poker fraternity, and many reacted. Fellow poker pro Clayton Fletcher tweeted his condolences.
She was one of the bubbliest and most vivacious opponents I've ever had. She was a very strong player who also liked to have fun at the table. Do you remember her from our Day Five in 2015, @jeffplatt? I'm heartbroken reading this. RIP Susie Zhaohttps://t.co/eTdnV07N4q
— Clayton Fletcher (@claytoncomic) July 21, 2020
Another poker player Bart Hanson reportedly told the media, “She really was an excellent player. One of the best in L.A. at the level we played at the Commerce Casino and it’s the biggest poker room in the world. I never would have thought anyone would’ve wanted to do anything to her.”
Hanson later wrote in a tweet, “She had such a great attitude and so much spirit. It’s just awful.”
Poker the Cause of Zhou’s Death?
Originally from Beijing, China, Zhao shuttled between Los Angeles and Vegas for over a decade and had only recently returned to her family in Waterford Township of Oakland County. She was reportedly back home to deal with matters in her personal life, even though she had no known enemies or conflicts with anyone.
According to the police, Zhou was murdered, and then her car was set on fire. After her body was discovered, Detective Chris Hild of White Lake Township Police told reporters,“You have to determine whether or not this is a cover-up, or this may be some sort of retaliatory incident because of her profession.”
Hild’s statement gave rise to speculation if a poker-related conflict could have been the cause of Zhao’s murder. The Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office is still investigating the matter.