The last couple of months the planets have aligned in such a way that has caused the poker community to be rocked by horrific acts of violence. This January, Jason Potter, a 22 year old poker pro, was blindsided by an Australian who stole the $30,000 Potter had won at the Aussie Millions earlier that night. A month and a half ago, there was an attack in Florida that resulted in the death of three individuals. Duane Crittenden II was arrested for killing the players at a private poker game he was hosting.
Now the bad tidings have reached Atlantic City. Earlier this week, 61-year old Arthur Prince was killed in the valet area of the Trump Taj Mahal by 57 year old Vicente Perez. In Florida, the murder played out much differently – Crittenden became enraged thinking that the other players had been cheating him. He left for a couple hours only to return with a gun and knife. He proceeded to shoot and stab the other three players to death.
This is very different than the murder at the Taj Mahal. In Atlantic City, Perez attacked Prince in an open public setting. And what really sets these two cases apart is that neither the victim nor the assailant in Atlantic City had a criminal record, unlike Duane Crittenden II.
News reports have differed on some of the first-hand accounts of the incident while discussions about what really happened have popped up on various poker forums.
So far all of the reports agree that Prince was seated at a $1/2 no-limit cash game at the Taj. After losing all of his money, he made a request for his seat to be saved while he went to get more cash. According to various accounts, other players heard his request but the dealer did not, so the seat was subsequently given to Perez who was the next player on the waiting list.
When Prince returned to his seat an argument ensued between himself and Perez. Supposedly the floor was in favor of Perez keeping his seat although an NBC Philadelphia report has the roles reversed maintaining that it was Prince, not Perez, that the floor supported. Another account suggests that Prince was offered another seat at the same table, but refused it saying that he wanted his old seat back.
At that point Perez got up from his seat to take a break outside and was followed by Prince. Most reports have Prince following Perez to the parking lot to continue the escalating argument. One unverified (although widely read) version of the incident claims that Prince grabbed a walking stick from Perez or an uninvolved third party then struck Perez with it. At this point Perez allegedly retaliated with a hidden knife, wounding Prince in the left cheek, middle back, left lower abdomen and left upper abdomen.
Another version of the story has Perez pulling out the knife before Prince grabbed the cane – or even a bystander’s umbrella – which he used in an effort to defend himself from Perez’s blows.
The wound to Prince’s left cheek proved to be the fatal strike that ended his life as it severed his carotid artery. Prince was declared dead a little more than an hour after the fight broke out. Perez, who was photographed by a New Jersey newspaper while being led off to an ambulance covered in blood, was subsequently arrested and charged with three felonies, including aggravated manslaughter.
Perez is currently residing inside an Atlantic City jail cell on a $500,000 cash bond pending a bail application. Further details of the investigation have not yet been released by police, including actions taken by casino security staff. No information on any security camera tapes that may have caught the fight has been released to the public yet either. The poker world continues to discuss this tragedy as it awaits a public statement from the Trump Taj Mahal.