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Poker Champ Recalls Attempted Robbery

13 June 2005

Las Vegas Sun

LAS VEGAS -- Two men who allegedly attempted to rob 2004 World Series of Poker Champion Greg Raymer in December at the Bellagio only to have Raymer call their bluff and fight them off, will stand trial, Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Tony Abbatangelo ruled Friday.

Kevin Joy, 36, and Deen Cassim, 32, are scheduled for arraignment before District Judge Joseph Bonaventure on June 27.

Joy and Cassim are expected to plead not guilty to charges of burglary while in possession of a firearm, attempted robbery with use of a deadly weapon, attempt to commit first-degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit first-degree kidnapping and conspiracy to commit robbery both with use of a deadly weapon.

Deputy District Attorney Linda Lewis said if Joy and Cassim are convicted on all charges they will face up to 60 years in prison.

Raymer, a former patent attorney turned professional poker player, had been staying at the Bellagio and where he was participating in the Five Diamonds World Poker Classic.

He said he had been playing in the Bellagio's poker room for "six hours or so" when he decided to cash out and head up to his room at roughly 2 a.m. on Dec. 20.

He said that because he was checking out of the hotel early in the morning so he could check into and play a televised poker tournament called "Battle of the Sexes" at the Plaza he had emptied his safe deposit box containing $150,000 in poker chips, put it his duffle bag and was on his way to his room on the 20th floor.

Raymer said when he arrived on his floor he saw Cassim "walking 30 to 40 feet ahead of me. He proceeded down the hallway and stopped at the door next to my room."

"He (Cassim) appeared to fish around in his pocket and then began banging on the door and calling a woman's name saying 'Let me in, I locked myself out, wake-up.' "

Raymer said Cassim's action didn't seem unusual so he went to his room, put the key in and had the door only open a few inches when he was grabbed from behind by a man he would later identify as Joy.

"He (Joy) started pushing me into the room and then the other defendant (Cassim) joined in and attempted to help push me in," Raymer said. "They never got me past the doorway, and I screamed as loud as I could, 'I'm being robbed, someone call security.' "

Raymer said he knew it was "a bad idea to allow two criminals to push me into my room."

"I was being physically assaulted and was in fear for my safety, my life and my money," Raymer said.

The 330-pound Raymer said he pushed back at the 240-pound Joy and short and slight Cassim. Raymer said he flailed his arms out in the manner "a player in the NBA who comes down with a rebound extends their elbows and arms to clear the space."

He said Cassim then reached inside a paper shopping bag and pulled out a silver handgun and told Raymer, "We just want your money."

Ever the strategist, the poker champion said he "stopped yelling and stared at the two of them for one or two seconds" and contemplated his options.

"If I cooperated and went into my room they knew I could later identify them and I felt I would be killed in my room," Raymer said. "Then Kevin (Joy) tried to grab me and I shoved him to the ground."

Raymer said with Joy on the ground Cassim decided to cut his losses and ran down the hall to the elevator. He said Joy got up slowly and also ran away.

"I continued yelling for help and walked down the hall after them and then I saw the Bellagio security guards came toward us. I screamed (that) they were trying to rob me, they have a gun and the security guards stepped aside and did not try to detain them in any way."

The security guards who responded to Raymer's screams said Friday they didn't try to stop the two men because the guards were unarmed. Instead they called the main security office for help.

Nevertheless, Cassim and Joy made it to the elevators and exited the casino without being detained.

Although Joy and Cassim would flee Las Vegas and remain at large for close to five months the pair was arrested in the San Diego area and extradited to Las Vegas three weeks ago.

Police officers found Joy and Cassim selling toy helicopters at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in Del Mar, Calif.

Neither Joy nor Cassim had identification, but Joy had a credit card with his real name in his pocket and Cassim's identity was later confirmed through the National Crime Information Center.

On Friday both men remained in the Clark County Detention Center in lieu of $250,000 bail.

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