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Poker Pro Darren Elias Targeted in ‘Incredibly Scary’ Home Invasion

Darren Elias wins WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic

Over the last decade Darren Elias has quietly established himself as one of the undisputed best tournament poker players in the world but his more than $7.1 million in winnings was enough to attract some unwanted attention from a burglar this week.

Shannon Soroka, also a poker pro, forced his way into the Elias home in New Jersey last Thursday. Elias and his wife were not home at the time and a 19-year-old babysitter was taking care of their two-year-old child.

Soroka, 24, put a gun to the back of the babysitter and demanded to be shown to the valuables. Soroka locked the babysitter in the bathroom and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash and other valuables.

Local police apprehended Soroka the next day after receiving an anonymous tip. Elias and his family were unharmed.

Elias Calls Incident ‘Incredibly Scary’

Darren Elias, who recently finished third in the WPT LA Poker Classic for $473,280, later told a local NBC affiliate:

“It’s incredibly scary for me and my family. It was an awful feeling. I would say he was familiar with what I do for a living and thought that I might have things of value in the house.”

Indeed, Soroka, who resides in Philadelphia, is listed on the Hendon Mob online poker database as having $37,745 in lifetime live tournament earnings.

Incredibly, it wasn’t the first time that Elias had been targeted. He told local newspapers it was the second time that someone attempted to rob him.

It didn’t help that Elias’ recent $473,280 score at LAPC garnered considerable attention from the poker media. The final table took place on March 12 and Elias finished just shy of the outright win, which went to longtime poker vet David Baker.

At this point Elias might want to consider moving as it’s clear that at least some portion of the poker community has figured out the location of his residence.

Unheralded Elias Ranks as WPT’s Best

Darren Elias just might be the best poker tournament player in the world who has yet to gain attention from the mainstream media.

Elias has been grinding steadily since 2008 and is regarded as the most successful player in the history of the World Poker Tour with four WPT Main Event titles and over $7 million in live tournament earnings.

Still, Elias hasn’t received quite the same attention as some of his contemporaries. That might be partially because a World Series of Poker title still eludes him but it also might have something to do with the fact he doesn’t play a huge number of super high rollers.

Elias is renowned for playing a large number of tournaments on his own dime and not selling action. That’s probably kept him from reaching the stratospheric levels of super high rollers like Justin Bonomo but it also makes his overall haul of $7.1 million even more impressive considering he didn’t have to pay back investors for a large portion of it.

Poker Pros a Frequent Target for Burglary

Darren Elias is not the first poker pro to be targeted in a home invasion and he likely won’t be the last.

It started with old-school gamblers like Doyle Brunson who dealt with being robbed numerous times throughout his career. In more recent years, Danish pro Theo Jorgensen was shot in the leg during a robbery that took place at his home.

Jonathan Duhamel, the French-Canadian pro who won the Main Event in 2010, was held hostage, beaten and robbed in his Boucherville home. It turned out the ringleader of the home invasion was his ex-girlfriend Bianca Rojas-Latraverse, who is now serving 3.5 years in prison.

It’s particularly difficult for some of the biggest names in poker to protect their location because they are active on social media. That’s why some of the players never post at their current location and instead wait to post when they get home.