Poker Pro Brandon Steven Forfeits $1M to Feds as Part of Plea Deal in Illegal Gaming Case

Posted on: June 22, 2019, 12:39h. 

Last updated on: June 22, 2019, 12:39h.

Brandon Steven, a Kansas businessman and noted poker player, folded his hand earlier this week when he agreed to plead guilty in a US district court to a single gambling count. While the 45-year-old escaped jail time, Steven agreed to forfeit more than $1 million to authorities.

Kansas businessman Brandon Steven agreed to give up slightly more than $1 million he received in connection to an illegal poker game. He’ll also serve two years of probation. (Image:

Last week, the US Attorney’s Office in Kansas charged Steven as an accessory after the fact in connection to an investigation of an illegal gambling ring. Steven aided Daven Flax, who earlier this year pleaded guilty to running illegal poker games in the Wichita area.

I concealed the involvement of (Flax) and others by hiding handwritten ledgers and other records detailing the gambling credits and thereby relieved, comforted, and assisted (Flax) and others to hinder or prevent apprehension, trial, or punishment,” Steven wrote in his plea petition submitted on Tuesday.

Steven has surrendered the $1 million, which authorities claim said was the proceeds from his involvement in the case, before his sentencing. While he faced a year in prison, Judge Gwynne E. Birzer sentenced him to three years of probation and 200 hours of community service.

Last month, Flax was sentenced to 24 months probation and agreed to pay $117,000 for his participation in the scheme. Authorities said he took a cut from the money wagered in the private games and paid dealers, waitresses, caterers, and property owners that served as hosts.

Failed Casino Pursuit

Steven, along with his brother, owns numerous car dealerships and gyms in the Wichita area as well as three minor league hockey franchises. Four years ago, though, he struck out in an attempt to land a casino in his home state.

According to the Wichita Eagle, Steven, his brother and 16 other investors from the Wichita area pursued a casino license for the southeastern corner of the state. His team’s plan called for a glamorous Las Vegas-style  20-story casino towering near the borders with Missouri and Oklahoma. Ultimately, state officials chose a smaller proposal for the town of Pittsburg about 20 miles north of Steven’s planned location.

Stevens’ team, Castle Rock Casino Resort LLC, sued, though their case lost in the Kansas Supreme Court. That lawsuit helped delay the grand opening of the Kansas Crossing Casino and Resort until April 2017.

In February 2017, Steven said he was under federal surveillance, saying a phone line at one of his gyms was tapped during May and June 2015. It’s uncertain if that wire tap led to the investigation of Flax. However, court documents indicate Steven’s role as an accessory to Flax took place from December 2016 to February 2017.

World Series Regular

According to poker website The Hendon Mob, Steven is an accomplished poker player who has won nearly $3.2 million in earnings.

Four times, he’s finished in the top 10 at World Series of Poker events, with his highest finish being seventh in a $111,111 No Limit Hold-Em event back in 2013. That won him $621,180.

He also finished 10th in the 2010 WSOP World Championship, which earned him $635,011.

His only win in a poker tournament, according to the site, came in October 2016 when he won a $48,000 + $2,000 No Limit Hold’em Tournament at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. That win brought him $648,000 in winnings.

Steven’s plea agreement mentions nothing about him foregoing legal gambling activities. Nor does it keep him from leaving the state.