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Suspect Shot Dead in Attempted Bellagio Poker Room Heist

Bellagio Hotel & Casino

Robbing a casino is often glamorized in movies and TV shows but the reality was significantly grimmer this weekend when someone attempted to steal from the Bellagio poker room but was shot dead by police.

The suspect, later identified as Michael Charles Cohen of Las Vegas, attempted to rob the iconic poker room on Friday and made it to the parking lot of the hotel but police caught up with him and a gunfight transpired.

Cohen took a gunshot wound to the head and police apprehended him. The 49-year-old died in the hospital later that day.

Incredibly, police believe it may be the second time that Cohen attempted a robbery at the Bellagio poker room. In November 2017, an unidentified bandit successfully robbed the poker room and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash.

There are several similarities between the two crimes and investigators are still trying to determine whether it was the same person.

Police Officer Wounded in Gunfight

A police officer was wounded in the gunfight with Cohen but there’s a good chance a bulletproof vest saved his life. The attempted robbery took place at 9:45 p.m. on Friday.

Cohen approached the cage, showed his weapon and demanded cash. The cashier acquiesced and Cohen fled to the valet parking area of the north side of the casino.

Police caught him trying to steal a vehicle and a firefight commenced.

Cohen managed to hit one of the police officers in the chest but a bulletproof vest took the brunt of the blow. The officer survived with minor injuries.

Officer Joaquin Escobar returned fire and wounded Cohen. Cohen was taken to University Medical Center but later succumbed to the injury. It’s unclear if Cohen was himself a poker player.

Poker Pros Unperturbed by Robbery

The Bellagio poker room is one of the most famous poker destinations in the world and there are always at least a handful of world-renowned poker professionals on hand. Friday night was no exception.

Poker pro Eli Elezra, who’s won three WSOP bracelets and appeared on GSN’s High Stakes Poker numerous times, was playing a cash game when the incident occurred.

Apparently the game stopped for approximately 15 minutes but Elezra decided to stick around and keep playing.

He posted a photo on Twitter that showed him playing the game while getting a massage just minutes after the attempted robbery took place.

Casino staff eventually sequestered players in the poker room and wouldn’t let them leave for an hour while police gathered statements.

Some of the other poker players on hand included Andrew Badecker and former police officer Rick Fuller.

Badecker claimed the vast majority of poker players in the room didn’t even notice the robbery when it was happening. He took a video of the commotion.

Bellagio is one of the ultimate destinations for poker players and the high-limit Bobby’s Room (named after casino executive and poker player Bobby Baldwin) has been the location for numerous ultra-high stakes games. Pots in those games have been rumored to exceed $1 million.

The Bellagio poker room has hosted countless tournaments over the years including WPT and exclusive Bellagio Cup events.

Bellagio also served as the primary location for the 2001 heist flick Ocean’s Eleven.