The FBI is investigating the case of a Michigan poker player who says he was kidnapped in an attempt at extortion. George Janssen of Bad Axe was found bloodied with his hands bound in zip ties along a road on December 16. He was treated at a local hospital and is now back home with his family.

Details are sparse and the veracity of Janssen’s story has not been confirmed, which is why the FBI has launched an investigation.

The situation dates back to November 13, when one of Janssen’s family members called police, saying he “was in trouble” in Monroe County, according to ABC 12 in Flint, Michigan. A family friend later found Janssen’s car; among other items in the vehicle were a couple $50 bills on the floor.

A family member told ABC 12 that Janssen was kidnapped by two or three people, taken to a house in the Toledo, Ohio area (about 30 miles away), and kept in a basement for 35 days.

He was then driven back to Huron County, Michigan in the early hours of December 16 and left on the side of a rural road. Janssen flagged down a car at about 12:30am and from there, police and paramedics were called to the scene.

Huron County Sheriff Kelly Hanson, one of the first people at the scene, told ABC 12, “From what we gathered, he was being brought up here to recover some money that was hidden to give to these two assailants.”

“We can’t substantiate whether it did happen or it didn’t happen,” Sheriff Hanson added. “But there are a lot of things that need to be looked into.”

George Janssen has made a solid chunk of change playing in lower stakes live poker tournaments, almost exclusively in Michigan. He has over $440,000 in lifetime record live tournament earnings. His results date back to 2015, but the vast majority have come in the last two years, mostly in WSOP Circuit online events.

His two largest cashes came just within the last few months. In August 2023, Janssen finished third in the Mid-States Poker Tour Ohio Poker State Championship in Cleveland, winning $79,861. He followed that up in early September 2023 with a victory a $1,600 No-Limit Hold’em event at the Venetian DeepStack Extravaganza III, also part of the Mid-States Poker Tour, earning $82,823.

Janssen’s cashes since those two have been in WSOP Circuit online events for less than $3,000 total.

It is unknown if the alleged abductors were specifically after money Janssen had won in recent live events or if they had reason to believe that he had the money stashed somewhere in cash. The FBI continues to investigate.

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