World Series of Poker Flasher Kenneth Strauss Found Unfit to Stand Trial on Terrorism Charges

Posted on: October 15, 2019, 02:33h. 

Last updated on: October 15, 2019, 03:26h.

A poker player who gained temporary notoriety at this year’s World Series of Poker Main Event for exposing a little bit more than just his hole cards has been declared mentally unfit to stand trial for making terrorist threats.

Kenneth Strauss
Kenneth Strauss at a Las Vegas court hearing in September. He was committed into psychiatric care by a judge on Friday. (Image: Michael Blackshire/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Kenneth Strauss was disqualified from the $10,000 Main Event at the Rio, Las Vegas on July 6 after moving all-in with Q-6, flipping his hand face up on the table, then pulling down his pants to reveal his genitals.

He then removed his shoe, which he threw at his opponent who was contemplating a call with pocket fives.

If the shoe was all about inducing the call, it worked. But Strauss hit a queen on the flop to win the pot. That’s poker. But any sense of achievement for Strauss was short-lived. He was frog-marched out of the tournament shortly afterwards and banned from the Rio and all Caesars properties.

Strauss was spotted later that night in the Luxor poker room in a state of heightened inebriation, once again with his pants around his ankles.

Committed Player

But what most had ascribed to misplaced drunken hi-jinks appears to have been something far more serious.

Later that month, the 45-year-old was arrested by Metro police for making threats and giving false information in relation to an act of terrorism. He was indicted in August.

Having refused to attend a court hearing last Friday, Strauss was declared mentally incompetent to stand trial by Chief District Judge Linda Bell. He was committed to a psychiatric hospital for an undetermined period on the advice of a psychologist’s report.

Police arrested Strauss after Twitter users, with the Las Vegas shooting still fresh in their minds, became alarmed by his tweets, including the following:

Strauss’ arrest report details his movements on the day he sent the tweet. Police were originally called to the Red Rock Casino Resort at 8:40 a.m. due to reports Strauss had attempted to lure an eight-year-old boy from the pool area to his hotel room.

When quizzed by police, he claimed he thought he had recognized the boy as the son of family friends from his native Pittsburgh, and he had given the child his room number so he could meet up with the family later.

Stalking Claim

Police accepted the explanation, but Red Rock staff kicked him out. They already had concerns about their unusual guest, because they had earlier been approached by a private investigator who told them Strauss was stalking an unnamed sports reporter he believed was his daughter.

Strauss’ still-live Twitter account suggests this was ESPN’s Sarina Morales, who is 13 years his junior.

At around 3 p.m. police were called to the Venetian. Strauss had just booked in to the LVS property and was now creating a disturbance, threatening to harm himself and anyone who came near him.

The Venetian assigned armed personnel to watch over his room. But, when police arrived, he had somehow disappeared.

He later resurfaced at the Trump International Hotel — which is where it’s believed he made the offending tweets — and was taken into custody.

Nevada is not a state where terrorist threats are taken lightly. Under Nevada law, any word by an individual or group that authorities believe may be related to terrorism can subject those who uttered them to criminal prosecution, regardless of whether those threats resulted in actual harm. Making terrorists threats is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.