Michigan Man Arrested in Connection With Murder of Poker Pro Susie Zhao

  • White Lake Township police in Michigan pulled unnamed suspect over on a search warrant
  • Murder investigation is ongoing, with detectives looking at possible poker links
  • Poker pro reportedly earned at least $224,671 since 2009; majority came from WSOP events
Poker pro Susie Zhao at a poker table with other players
Police in Michigan have arrested a 60-year-old male suspect in conjunction with the homicide of professional poker player Susie Zhao. [Image: Susie Zhao’s Facebook account.]

Suspect, 60, pulled over on a search warrant

White Lake Township police in Michigan have arrested a 60-year-old man in connection with the homicide of 33-year-old professional poker player Susie Zhao.

The unnamed suspect, who is from the Oakland County seat of Pontiac, was taken into custody on Friday after he was pulled over on a search warrant while driving northwest of Detroit on I-275 and Michigan Avenue.

Zhao’s badly burned body was discovered on July 13

Zhao’s badly burned body was discovered on July 13 in a parking area at the Pontiac Lake State Recreation Park. The FBI met with White Lake Township Police to coordinate the investigation on July 21, with the department posting a tweet the following week calling for informants to contact the bureau’s Detroit field office:

After residing in Las Vegas and California for over ten years, Zhao, who is known as Susie Q in poker circles, recently moved to Waterford to live with her parents.

Death could be poker related

While the investigation is ongoing, White Lake Township police detective lieutenant Chris Hild told The Associated Press that Zhao’s death could be related to her travels on the poker circuit. “We have to determine whether or not this is a cover-up, or this may be some sort of retaliatory incident because of her profession,” he said.

this may be some sort of retaliatory incident”

Detectives also noted the possibility of debt-related ties in connection to gambling. A White Lake Township detective said of the case: “We’re looking into every lead, every possibility. Obviously when you’re dealing with that type of profession you have potential of owing debt, and those are things that we’re looking into.”

Close contacts have denied knowledge of any conflicts in Zhao’s personal life.

Professional female poker star

Zhao was originally from Beijing but grew up in the northern Detroit suburb of Troy, just a few miles from the suspect’s Pontiac residence. After graduating from university with a degree in psychology, she began playing high-stakes games on the male-dominated professional poker circuit. She earned “at least $224,671 since 2009”, according to New York Post.

The majority of Zhao’s earnings came from her successes in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event. In 2012, she walked away with $73,805 after a particularly deep run.

The live 2020 WSOP has been postponed because of COVID-19, although an online version is currently underway with a guaranteed prize pool of $25m up for grabs in the Main Event.