Poker Champ Who Claims Kidnap Sent Coded Message While Missing

Posted on: January 4, 2024, 04:23h. 

Last updated on: January 5, 2024, 12:54h.

Incredible new details have emerged in the case of Michigan poker player George Janssen, who claims he was kidnapped and held captive in a basement for 35 days.

George Janssen, kidnap, poker
George Janssen, pictured at a Heartland Poker Tour event in 2019, claims he was terrorized and extorted by a criminal gang for two years before his alleged kidnap, according to a missing person’s report. (Image: HPT)

Janssen, who had been reported missing by his family on November 13 last year, was found zip-tied and covered in blood on a rural road outside of the city of Bad Axe, Mich., on December 16. He flagged down a passerby and told them he had managed to escape his captors.

According to a missing person’s report obtained by PokerNews, Janssen told a friend that before his disappearance, he had been terrorized and extorted by a criminal gang for approximately two years.

Extorted then Kidnapped?

The four-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) Circuit Ring winner claimed his ordeal started when a masked man held a gun to his head as he got into his car in the parking garage of a Detroit casino, according to the report. The man demanded $2 million, which Janssen said he did not have.

Janssen was told to drive down the street to meet other gang members who handed him a burner phone, the report states. The poker player claimed the gang would contact him on the phone to demand payments periodically over the next two years, and threatened to harm his family if he didn’t comply.

He was directed to drop-off points, where he was instructed to leave the cash in boxes provided by the criminals. Sometimes a new cell phone would be waiting for him in the box, and he was told to leave the old one with the cash, according to the document.

On the day of his disappearance, Jannsen’s car was found abandoned, with several $50 bills strewn on the floor.

Coded Message

On December 15, just over a month after he went missing, a family member received a handwritten letter from Jannsen, according to the report.

In it, Janssen inquired about the health of certain friends and relatives. But the letter included the names of six family members who did not exist: Kirby, Iggy, Daisey Noah, Anthony, and Parker.

The inclusion of the fake names appears to be a cipher, since the first letters of the names spell out K-I-D-N-A-P.

Jannsen’s finances were also scrutinized in the report. He had been a successful poker player, with $440,763 in gross tournament earnings, according to the Hendon Mob database. It was also claimed in the report he had been taking out loans on vehicles to sell through his car dealership that he could not repay. At the time of his disappearance, he was $2 million in debt to his bank, the report alleged.

The FBI is investigating the case.