February 6, 2009 (InfoPowa News) — The always-informative 2Plus2 poker forum provided a cautionary tale for travelling poker players this week — don't carry large amounts of cash to (or from) the game.
Professional poker player David 'Viffer' Peat posted that he had to endure deprivation of liberty and the confiscation of $15,000 in cash and an expensive Rolex watch last week — apparently because he was carrying too much cash.
About to board first class on a commercial flight in Detroit on his way to Los Angeles to play in a tournament on his way home to Vegas, Peat was allegedly approached by two men who identified themselves as federal government Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials.
Peat, who had bought his ticket with cash and had already passed through security, recounted: "I was standing against a wall talking on the phone when two guys ask my name."
“I answered ‘Peat, David Peat’. They showed me DEA badges so, obviously, I hung up and answered their questions.
“They played good cop, bad cop and I had about $15,000 cash in my pocket and the bad cop asked why I had so much money on me. I told him what I did and where I was going. They reluctantly let me board the plane.”
However, the DEA duo then apparently changed their minds and took Peat into custody, causing him to miss his flight and the tournament, and subjecting him to further questioning.
Peat claims that he became alarmed and called over airport police, who confirmed that the men who had detained him were bona fide DEA agents.
He posted: "they take me to corner of the bagage claim and ask me to empty pockets and take off jewelry. i do. Now im starting to think i am getting robbed so i yell for someone to call the police they come over and say im screwed and theese guys are dea. 20 min later the dea guys tell me here is a reciept . you will get some thing in mail. they didnt count my money just bagged it, they just put watch on resiept , its a 50k rolex, and the reciept has no contact information on it at all."
Various Internet sites, including Radley Balko's Reason.com blog, were quick to carry the story as a civil rights issue, prompting a lively discussion.
Peat was apparently not formally arrested, charged or even informed on what grounds his money and watch had been confiscated. However, in a separate post, Peat conceded he had "a few" marijuana possession charges, the most recent more than eight years ago.
Further disclosures on the incident are awaited.