Kiwi Poker Player-Turned Meth Dealer Loses Assets While Sitting in Jail

Posted on: May 10, 2022, 09:34h. 

Last updated on: May 11, 2022, 03:46h.

Shane Tamihana will have plenty of time to perfect his poker game. He’s sitting in a New Zealand jail cell on drug charges and can only watch as authorities seize his assets.

Shane Tamihana
Shane Tamihana, a former poker player participating in a tournament. He is now in jail on charges he led a major illicit drug ring, and his assets will be sold by police. (Image: NZ Herald)

Shane Tamihana had it all – a budding career as a poker professional, recognition in his home country of New Zealand, and the chance for a spot on the international poker scene. He also had a thriving illicit drug dealership, which ultimately destroyed everything he was working for.

In 2018, Tamihana, aka Shane Thompson, saw everything disappear in the blink of an eye. Police arrested him for moving methamphetamines and a judge sentenced him to 13 years behind bars.

As he sits in the cell, the outside world moves forward. This includes authorities seizing and selling his assets, according to New Zealand’s Stuff media outlet.

Poker Player Folds to Drugs

The budding poker pro pled guilty to playing a major role in a meth ring that pushed around NZ$2.5 million (US$1.57 million) of the drug. Following his arrest, New Zealand seized his assets, including real estate, a vehicle, and over NZ$90,000 (US$56,583) in cash.

It took a while for all of the cash to surface. But the police went after all of it once Tamihana received his sentence. In addition to the money and an inconspicuous 2006 Toyota Hilux, they also seized a home worth NZ$280,000 (US$176,036).

Initially, the drug-dealing poker player tried to contest the seizures. However, possibly realizing that he had no way out, he relented and gave in. That cleared the way for the police to dispose of the assets. But a new wrinkle emerged that caused additional anguish for the court system.

Dubious Ownership Claims

Taking possession of the real estate was not an easy task. Another individual, Michael Allison, tried to intervene and said that he owned the property. He tried to convince authorities that Tamihana had no investment in the home and that it wasn’t his to be seized.

Those arguments fell apart this week. A judge overseeing the seizure claims decided that Allison didn’t have a solid foundation. He added that the man alleged to own the property may have misled the court about the source of his involvement with the real estate.

Allison said that he initially put up NZ$40,000 (US$25,140) to buy the house. When it came time to prove this and show the source of the funds, his story fell apart. It went from winnings at SkyCity, which the casino couldn’t confirm, to poker games with Chinese high rollers.

SkyCity showed that Allison only lost money at the time the purchase of the house took place, weakening the story. It didn’t help the would-be owner’s case that his own father rejected the idea that his son owned the property.

As a result, the judge created a more likely scenario that he presented this week. Tamihana was the true buyer and had asked Allison to put the house in his name. Therefore, the police had the right to seize the “tainted property” and could do with it what they wish.

Not the Reputation He Wanted

Tamihana became a prolific meth dealer even as he was winning poker tournaments. Hendon Mob reports that he took first place at the 2016 Skycity Festival of Poker $1,550 +100 No Limit Hold’em Main Event. This followed a second-place finish at an event at the same festival a year earlier.

Apparently not content with the course his poker career was taking, Tamihana chartered a new course into the world of illicit drugs. This led him to become, as the sentencing judge put it, “the most comprehensive methamphetamine dealer Hawke’s Bay has ever seen.”