World Poker Tour Champion Dennis Blieden earned a prison sentence

Senior Reporter

Despite the ultimate success in the world of Poker, Dennis Blieden decided to dabble in misappropriation of funds and got the prize of a lifetime - a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence. And if that’s not enough of a punishment, the trickster will be forced to pay $22.7 million in restitution, which is the exact amount he snatched from his former employer for making bets in Poker.

World Poker Tour Champion Dennis Blieden earned a 6+ year prison sentence
Dennis Blieden. Photo: flickr.com

How did Blieden get a hold of this money? The Poker tour champion is a jack of all trades. Aside from Poker entertainment, he was also a controller/vice president of accounting and finance for a Los Angeles digital organization. Being in this position, he was in charge of the organization’s funds and thought it would be a brilliant idea to use a hefty sum of it to put on the line for Poker gambling.

But of course, he planned to play, win, and replace the money without anyone batting an eye. Besides, Blieden pulled a clever trick with the money transfer, making it seem like he was sending checks to the company's workers.

Why so much money?

Not all the money was spent on Poke; in fact, a chunk of it was distributed for other related needs. Blieden distributed about $1.2 million to other poker participants, another $1.1 million was used to pay off debts on his accounts. He also dropped $8.4 million to invest in crypto - which was another plan to make a bang for the buck. Which, by the way, was a success as cryptocurrency was on the rise during the time. The remainder was spent on Poker bets in tournaments, and a good portion was utilized for his personal needs. Why didn’t he use the crypto money to cover up for this sly act? Well, it simply wasn’t enough, and the amount was far less than the money he stole. This malicious act was happening over the course of several years until Blieden decided to back out and forsake the company before anyone would notice.

How did Dennis Blieden get caught?

The company Blieden was working for caught on later in the year 2019 and began investigating the conundrum. Needless to say, he quickly got exposed and was formally accused in Nevada some months after. Blieden was then handed over to the jurisdiction of Southern California for an official investigation, and of course - the ultimate punishment for the crimes. Dennis eventually got arrested in his hotel room after losing a considerable sum in a casino in Nevada.

Why did Dennis Blieden commit the fraudulent crimes?

Despite the massive success in the Poker tournaments in 2018, Blieden simply couldn’t afford to replace his stolen money. No cryptocurrency or casino winning could save him at this point, and he was already in debt from losing his money in gambling entertainment. So, generally speaking, he wasn’t planning on stealing the company and leaving them high and dry. He had intentions to return the funds, as previously mentioned, but took a bigger bite than he could chew.

“My plans were to take some money, gamble, pay off my loans, then put back the original amounts I took from StyleHaul back without ever being detected," he explained later on.

Perhaps the reason was greed driven by success, intermixed with intimidating dues that pushed Blieden to commit such wrongdoings.

“I was chasing my debt, but also attempting to keep up with a lifestyle that was a lie,” Blieden stated as a justification for the crooked path he chose.

Blieden also wrote a lengthy letter accounting for his actions and described his life story that he claims led him to who he is today. It’s a fifteen-page read, full of tear-jerking details that bring a lot of truth to light. The letter moved many fans and other readers who’d never heard of Dennis before the situation. However, as touching as it may have been, a slap on the wrist was far from enough to make up for the fraudulent crimes.

Blieden's letter
Blieden's letter. Photo: pokernews.com

The original sentence for Dennis Blieden consisted of 8.5 years in federal prison, but the long hand-written letter, as well as excellent cooperation during the court procedures, reduced the sentence by nearly two years.

Was this an honest sob story?

Forgiveness served well in Blieden’s case as the judge snipped off a part of the lengthy prison sentence. However, it was discovered that Dennis continued gambling with hefty sums of money even after his deeds were exposed. So it seems as if Blieden didn’t feel much shame or guilt for his crimes at the moment until he realized how deep in he was. He also claimed that alcohol and drugs played a part in enabling him to turn away from his principles. Blieden mentioned multiple times that he feels utter shame for what he has done and fully grasps that his actions were unpardonable. It’s possible that these were honest words, but none of his actions showed remorse before getting caught.

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