Michigan poker player safe at home after suspected kidnapping

The FBI is investigating the case of a Michigan poker player who says he was kidnapped in an extortion attempt. George Janssen of Bad Ax was found on a road Dec. 16 covered in blood and with his hands tied with cable ties. He was treated at a local hospital and is now home with his family.

Details are sparse and the veracity of Janssen's story has not been confirmed, which is why the FBI has launched an investigation.

The situation dates back to Nov. 13, when one of Janssen's family members called police and said he was “in trouble” in Monroe County. according to ABC 12 in Flint, Michigan. A family friend later found Janssen's car; There were a few $50 bills on the floor among other items in the vehicle.

A family member told ABC 12 that Janssen was kidnapped by two or three people, taken to a home in the Toledo, Ohio area (about 30 miles away) and held in a basement for 35 days.

He was then driven back to Huron County, Michigan in the early morning hours of December 16th and left on the side of a country road. Janssen stopped a car around 12:30 p.m. and from there police and paramedics were called to the scene of the accident.

Huron County Sheriff Kelly Hanson, one of the first people on the scene, told ABC 12, “From what we've learned, he was brought here to obtain hidden money to give to these two attackers.”

“We can’t prove whether it happened or not,” Sheriff Hanson added. “But there are a lot of things that need to be looked at.”

George Janssen has made a lot of money by playing in live, lower stakes poker tournaments, almost exclusively in Michigan. He has a record winnings of over $440,000 in live tournaments. His results date back to 2015, but the vast majority come from the last two years, mostly in online WSOP Circuit events.

His two biggest cash wins came in just the last few months. In August 2023, Janssen placed third at the Mid-States Poker Tour Ohio Poker State Championship in Cleveland, winning $79,861. He then won a $1,600 No-Limit Hold'em event at the Venetian DeepStack Extravaganza III, also part of the Mid-States Poker Tour, in early September 2023, earning $82,823.

Janssen's cash winnings since then have totaled less than $3,000 in online WSOP Circuit events.

It is not known whether the alleged kidnappers were specifically after money Janssen had won at recent live events or whether they had reason to believe he had hidden the money in cash somewhere. The FBI continues to investigate.

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